As fans of dark fantasy fiction, Iratus: Lord of the Dead caught our attention early during the initial Kickstarter campaign back in 2018. The title mimics Darkest Dungeon's hardcore gameplay, while putting the spotlight on nasty undead from the underworld. The titular Iratus is a powerful necromancer who has mastered death itself, however, while trying to bend the world to his will, he was beaten and subsequently held captive. After an eternity he finally managed to escape his shackles and, potentially, he might even fulfil his old ambitions.
The initial comparison with Darkest Dungeon is no coincidence, as Iratus: Lord of the Dead also has a strong focus on turn-based, tactical combat. In addition, the roguelike from Russian developer Unfrozen draws heavy inspiration from Red Hook Studios' dynamic squad combat system, in which the positioning of your troops determines attack effects, range, and damage types. You fight with up to four units as well, while also selecting from a wide range of character classes.
The tactical challenge is also noticeable in the choice of skills. While inflicting massive destruction on your enemies is a legit strategy, other skills have little to no effect on the physical form of our foes. Those attacks target the mental psyche of our enemies and serve merely to break down an opponent's stress bar. While in panic, this adversary could lose his or her mind and flee the battlefield, injuring allies or even suffering from a sudden cardiac arrest. These dirty tricks allow for many different playstyles and, with appropriate specialisation, they are very effective and satisfying to use.
One difference to Darkest Dungeon is the active role of our antihero. Although Iratus won't risk his own skin in the heat of a battle, he is allowed to intervene at any given time via his wealth of artefacts and spells. In addition to his buffs and debuffs, two important resources play a role in the skirmishes: classic mana and something called "ire". Various units rely on this resource for their abilities, which partially regenerates between battles.