The very first thing that drew me to Unto the End was the sound design. Watching the trailer when I saw the news it’d be EGX, I was quite excited to get my hands on what seemed to be a fairly simple hack and slash with great audio, and a decent story to go along with it.
What I actually got was a challenging 2D adventure with a more complex combat system and interesting environments to traverse – and of course the aforementioned excellent sound design.
Unto the End has you take up the role of a father searching for his family, making your way through a relentless environment, fighting enemies and figuring out where to go next.
Right from the outset of the demo, there’s a piece of the landscape that’s designed to make your life difficult, and immediately shows you that you can’t just run blindly into the world. It’s here where you realise there’s a bit more to the game than it first appears, and that’s only emphasised when you reach some particularly difficult enemies at the end too.
After learning the combat and cutting down some troll-like enemies on your journey so far, you reach a much bigger and harder to fight troll – a prince I believe I was told – who doesn’t instantly attack you when you draw near. If you run at him with your sword drawn, he’ll attack, and likely demolish you in just a couple of blows. Sheath your sword however, and he’ll simply kneal and offer you a gift. You wouldn’t know it at the time, but the decision you just made means you won’t get mauled by his two big brothers a little further on.
There’s not much dialogue (as far as I played at least), and the decisions you can make aren’t exactly complex, but they fit the game really well – you’re not playing as a soldier or a fighter, simply a man who has a sword and is looking for his family. It’s refreshing seeing more games like this where fighting isn’t your only option, there’s more depth in getting to decide how a scenario plays out, even if the narrative isn’t affected by the result.
Should you decide that fighting everyone is the path you’d like to go down, the combat system involves paying attention to what your enemies are doing, rather than just button mashing them to death. If your opponent is about to attack high, you can either block high or attempt to get a low attack in, and hope that you don’t get countered. One of the developers told me they’ve taken a small amount of inspiration from Sekiro, purely in that you can’t go jumping and rolling around whacking everything until it dies – the combat takes a more considered approach, and has a fairly steep learning curve too.
Unto the End isn’t perfect of course, there are a few kinks to iron out here and there – the biggest one for me was button prompts not appearing where they should leading to a bit of confusion. But here we have another three-person indie dev team making a game with the potential to be a fun and challenging little adventure, and I’m intrigued to see where the story goes.
Unto the End is coming to Nintendo Switch, PC, PS4, and Xbox One on a date yet to be announced, and it’s definitely one to keep an eye on.