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I’ll be honest. Sometimes, games try too hard. Too often modern gaming feels like a contest to be the biggest and the best. This can result in some fantastic experiences. It can also crash and burn. With all this push to be bigger and better, sometimes it’s nice to see a game get back to the basics. Unto the End does this very well.
Unto the End is a combat-heavy adventure game following the journey of a father trying to return home. Armed with only a sword, dagger, and torch, he fights his way through unknown and rough terrain. With every step, he comes closer to home but also closer to the dangerous, intelligent creatures that lurk around the corners of the unforgiving path he’s on.
The game is centered around strategic combat, and it’s important to note that you won’t be able to get by with button mashing. Many enemies strike fast and hit hard, so timing and precision in your attacks are essential. Blocking attacks is also important, as is utilizing your daggers for ranged attacks. This will take a lot of practice to figure out, and the game doesn’t really explain how to fight. You have to learn the controls and the tactics for yourself, which is honestly a great thing.
In a way these elements make Unto the End feel inspired by Dark Souls, making you feel just like the character that you’re playing: alone, out of sorts, and struggling until you come into your own.
The game allows you to also pick up items along the way. You can search remains for herbs, leather, bones, and other items to heal you or help you craft weapons and armor. This is the only form of leveling up in the game. You start with all of your abilities, but you can craft slightly upgraded weapons or armor. Combat relies solely on player ability.
The story of Unto the Dark is simple, yet engaging. You are simply a man, nameless, trying to find his way back to his family. You hold a lock of your wife’s hair close for comfort and motivation to keep going. The game does a great job of being immersive, making you feel what the main character does through combat and exploration. The soundtrack is almost entirely ambient sound: footsteps, metal clanging, and so on. It also adds to the feel of the story, journeying alone with only the sounds of the world around you for company.
One look and you’ll see the graphics are simple, clean, and pleasing, and also serve as your health bar. The bloodier a character, the lower their health. It’s wild to think this game was developed entirely by just two people at 2 Ton Studios.
Unto the End is a challenging, realistic adventure that relies on the skill of the player. There’s no hand-holding; you are completely on your own to figure out controls and remember to pick up your swords, torches, and daggers when you drop them, lest you be defenseless. This feeling of isolation is helped by the simplistic, yet beautiful graphics and atmospheric soundtrack that immerses you in the story, which really brings the plot to life. In a year overflowing with bigger budgets and more cinematic gaming experiences don’t let yours end without sharpening your skills on this exciting adventure.