Unto the End is a new adventure platformer that has arrived on the PlayStation 4, The title from 2 Ton Studios promises a challenging adventure requiring a cool head to overcome. So without further adieu, let’s dive in and see if this title is worth picking up.
The story of Unto the End leaves a lot to interpretation due to the fact there’s no real dialog in the title. The best interpretation I can give from the opening scene is you play the role of a husband and father needing to hunt for food during a harsh winter, when an unfortunate event leads to you having to fight for your life and make your way back to your family.
Leaving the story to the players imagination makes a change from a lot of titles I’ve seen recently, and is great for players with little free time as you get back to exploring and combat. Truth is this direction was a welcome change For myself after a slew of story driven titles recently, I found myself wanting a break from tons of dialog and just getting on with my quest. That being said I’m normally a story guy, and while I did like the change, I can see why it would put some people off.
One of the first things of note is the 2D art style for the game that kind of looks as though it could be painted on a cave wall. It’s both charming in its rustic nature and helps add a sense of fear and suspense below ground where you will be spending a lot of your exploration. While not bleeding edge realism, I rather enjoyed the look of the game and each of its pieces of design.
Much like the visuals, the audio also plays its part to make the game seem eerie and suspenseful. Be it the sounds of a blizzard or the scurrying of enemies in the shadows, each aspect of the audio does a good job of immersing you into the world and keeping you on the edge of your seat.
All of this makes for a good platformer in its own right, as the gameplay loop sees you explore caverns full of traps and natural dangers whilst trying to progress. Truth be told, the dangers of exploration alone can make this game tough and will almost surely murder you more than once.
However this title is far from finished torturing you with traps, the caverns you find yourself exploring are full of creatures hellbent on stabbing you in the face. While you can avoid some confrontation, chances are you’ll be taking part in combat and the true challenge raises its head.
Combat in Unto the End can be utterly brutal, with a single mistake costing you dearly. Balancing attack and defence, blocking attacks with your sword or dodging, and ducking below a strike before striking yourself. Waiting for an opening is the aim here, with simply mashing the attack button leading to certain defeat. To top things off you can even lose your sword, causing you to scramble around to try and pick it back up while avoiding a spear to the back.
I’m not going to lie here, the game utterly murdered me more than I care to admit, with both its traps and combat stopping my exploration in its tracks as I cursed it’s name. Fortunately there’s a combat assist in the settings menu that allowed me to get to grips with the title. While this does not hand victory to you on a silver platter, it sure as hell helped me. If you pick this up and find it a little too much, try turning this on and see if it helps you too just a little tip from me to you.
In case I wasn’t clear, combat and exploration are the core of this title, both requiring you to think on your feet and be ready for the tables to turn in a instant. This is most prominent on the combat side as you balance blocking high and low while dishing out your own damage to stunned foes, making each battle a hard won achievement, only for a new enemy type to appear requiring their own strategy. I found this infuriating and rewarding in equal measure, though ultimately feeling I had a good time with it due to exactly the fact it was so rewarding – once I failed a half dozen times.
Overall I both enjoyed and cursed this title, and would recommend it to anyone looking for a challenge. It’s a title that requires you to think about each action you take, and each encounter will require some trial and error before you fully get to grips with it. The overall presentation sets the tone well and makes for a pleasant experience, when you aren’t worried the shadows hide death at least. It’s a far cry from the most beautiful game yet holds its own charm. The ability to lose your sword in combat I found to be a great detail, and utterly panicked the first time it happened to me. It’s just a small thing that is a possibility in actual combat that you don’t normally see in many melee focused games.
A challenging adventure filled with nerve wrecking caverns of danger & despair.