Estimated reading time: 7 minutes
Getting treated to a taste of Achilles: Legends Untold by Dark Point Games over the weekend, there was one thing that stood out above all else by the time that the final screen appeared in front of my eye telling me “This one story has come to an end… but the circle carries on. Patiently, relentlessly… always.” It was that I wanted more and I don’t think there’s going to be any “patiently” waiting for the full version!
Me wanting more aside, Achilles: Legends Untold is a top down third person isometric soulslike action RPG set in ancient Greece where you’ll apparently be tasked with ending the conflict between Hades and Ares. I only say apparently as our first look takes us to the beaches of Troy where Achilles roars that “Troy will burn” and other than a few quick lines of dialog here and there, this first look is all about the action.
Jumping off the boat and into the sand, you’ll be gaining immediate control with quick pop-ups that act as tutorials to controlling Achilles such as quick and strong attacks, dodging or dodge rolling and blocking your enemies attacks. The controls themselves are fairly standardly laid out for a soulslike but it’s what Dark Point Games have done with the animations behind these controls that constantly had me in awe of what I was looking at.
Smooth animations as swords are swinging and arrows flying are one thing but ducking under a swinging sword while it narrowly misses your head? That’s generally reserved for cutscenes or sick slow motion scenes in motion pictures. I never even noticed we weren’t getting those until now. Dark Point Games have raised a bar by putting these style of animations into the core gameplay. There’s no slowdown, there’s no focus cameras, there “just is” as Achilles will fluid duck or dodge enemy blows and it helps create more of an immersion into this world as you keep moving forwards.
Perhaps a double edged sword in some cases, moving this fluidly can sometimes get you hit if you’re not careful enough or start to gloat at being “so gud” and getting hit on the backend of the swing. To quote Boromir, “they have a cave troll” and this large hulking beast as he swung his weapon around I was laughing saying to myself that it was awesome as I ducked under his blows all the way until the giant slab of tree kept going around to hit me in the back once it made a 180 arc. Lessons learned on THAT one, it also confirmed some other neat elements such as even if you’re blocking a strong attack, that attack can knock you backwards and onto the ground leaving you a bit vulnerable until you can get back up.
Between these more mythical beasts of trolls, giant scorpions and skeletons in an abandoned part of Troy, you’ll be facing off against human opponents with swords, shields, spears, bows and tactics which I realized was not a fluke “look at what we can do entrance.” Again to marvel at the animations and at the combative elements, if an enemy has a shield, they can take a knee and raise said shield allowing their ally to run and jump off of it into the air to come crashing down at you. Super excited about how it looked soon turned to dread as I realized that I was still standing in its path and needed to move, NOW.
Not to be outdone by these fancy moves however, Achilles has a few tricks up their sleeve as well. Potions to restore health, Greek fire to make some fairly large explosions and leave fire burning on the ground, they can also use the souls of the defeated in order to level up. This is a soulslike after all. By taking a knee at a shrine of Hades, you can use the souls of the dead to level up your strength, health, stamina or learn new abilities like Captain America throwing your shield but one step better than Cap, call it back and eventually level that to hit enemies as well.
One element about the shrines of Hades that I really enjoyed was that unlike most soulslikes where if you sit down to one of these the world “resets”, in this adventure you can make that choice on your own. Instead of resetting the world while activating the shrine the first time or coming back to it to level up, resetting the world to respawn the defeated is an option that does not have to be taken if you don’t want it. Want to keep exploring? Then keep exploring. Want to level up a bit because you’re starting to hold onto too many souls? Level up. Want to rest and replenish your stock? Then do it but you don’t have to unless you want to. Finally, these also act as way points which was convenient as one of them in our provided look was our fast travel ticket back to so far my favorite supporting cast member. Hephaestus.
Chilling at their forge, Hephaestus will be able to sell to you equipment if you have what is required to buy it, or, upgrade some of your already existing gear if you have the materials on hand. Other than being just your “generic” blacksmith like support, the one liners Hephaestus spits out are gold. Having the option for Achilles to ask about rumors, Hephaestus responds that what people think of the soul is goatshit as it’s currency and it should be used! It may not carry the same weight in the final version, but when that’s about the only dialog that we were treated to other than “Troy will burn”, “Achilles!!!” and other death noises? It’s gold.
Putting two elements into focus as bonuses to the experience, the first is that Achilles: Legends Untold already supports ultrawide resolutions. It may not sound like much, but ultrawide resolutions can change your immersion as you see more of the world as you move through it. This allows you to better plan how you’ll approach a situation as you can spot enemies faster. Otherwise you wouldn’t be able to see them playing at an average resolution.
The second bonus is that a new game plus (NG+) feature already exists. While for some may be a take it or leave it feature, for the rest it’s a highly sought after feature especially in a soulslike where you want to take what you’ve learned and acquired and test it against tougher foes. While the current build gave me roughly an hour’s worth of action while going off on every little side quest I could find, I dove right back in for a look at what it would be like to face back off against the first boss with my newer gear, abilities and his own shield!
Achilles: Legends Untold is already in an amazing shape based off of the current build that we have been treated to. Responsive combat with fluid animations has only left me wanting more of it while simultaneously making me wonder just how it’s all going to come together once the narrative is available. Just how big of a role are the gods going to play, how in depth are we going to interact with Hades and how many more one liners will Hephaestus have when you visit him in his forge? Hopefully we won’t have to wait too long to find out!Score: N/A