No Rest for the Wicked

No Rest for the Wicked (Early Access)

The studio calls the game "their The Legend of Zelda", so we put that to the test.

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When the creators of Ori and the Blind Forest release a new game in Early Access, you have to open your eyes with interest and look at their new creation. Ori and the Blind Forest, and its sequel Will of the Wisps, are very, very beautiful Metroidvania games that I loved for their beautiful graphics and personality - something that the gaming industry is sorely lacking today. It's almost only the indie developers who dare to be a little different and create games with heart, not just a focus on the bottom line. Moon Studios, as the developer is called, has now released the game No Rest for the Wicked in Early Access on Steam, and the studio is trying its hand at a completely new genre. So I've ventured into the plague-ridden world to see what it can do.

Of course, it's crucial to note that this is just the beginning of No Rest for the Wicked, and we'll be following it as the studio updates the game. There are already three small updates filled with fixes ready to go.

The king is dead! Magnus, his son, is now in charge of the country, but he believes his father was limited and wants to do things differently. The only problem is that the plague has struck again, and the young king is determined to do something about it. So, your character is sent to Isla Sacre, a disputed archipelago where different forces are vying for power.

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No Rest for the Wicked
No Rest for the Wicked

You play a so-called Cerim, which can be compared to a plague doctor from the Middle Ages. The doctor you play has been sent to Isla Sacre to eradicate the plague, but the people aren't exactly happy to see you, which you become very convinced of at the start of the game when you find yourself on the ship that will take you to the island. However, this trip does not end as expected as the ship is attacked by monsters and after learning how to control and play your character, the ship runs aground on the coast of Isla Sacre and you wake up washed up on the beach. You then have to fight your way to the capital of the dangerous island, Sacrement. The only problem is that the island is filled with former humans that the plague has turned into monsters. Naturally, this is quite troublesome. The story in No Rest for the Wicked is quite bold and the atmosphere is tense and uncomfortable. Fortunately, many of the characters you meet are a little quirky and they balance out the depressing atmosphere, which I appreciate. Balance is important to me so that a game doesn't become too depressing or crazy, and No Rest for the Wicked delivers on that.

In the same breath, it's worth mentioning that the cutscenes are fantastic. They are full of personality and the visual design is magical. The characters you see look like they've been lifted from medieval paintings. I've never seen a style like the one No Rest for the Wicked uses, but man, is it cool. As a history buff, it's especially cool to see the paintings you've analysed for so many years come to life in this way.

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The tone of No Rest for the Wicked is heavily inspired by the Soulsborne series from FromSoftware, and I got the same vibes from the game as, say, the Dark Souls games. That intangible loneliness and decay that most games in the series have. So, if you're a fan, you'll find yourself at home in No Rest for the Wicked. However, those who think FromSoft is a little too vague and allegorical in its storytelling will enjoy that there are characters here, there is dialogue, there is interaction.

No Rest for the Wicked is a kind of isometric Souls game with a lot of extra flavour. So you see everything from above in an isometric angle, just like in the Diablo series. The developers put a warning in your head when you start the game that it should be played with a controller, not a mouse and keyboard, as the game is designed to use this control scheme. However, mouse and keyboard can also be used, but can be a bit imprecise as there are sequences that require very precise control that a keyboard cannot provide. Yes, it's usually the other way round, I know. It works fine, although there are parts of the game where the controls stab you in the back and you jump into thin air and into the abyss. So, there are still teething problems that Moon Studios needs to work on. And that's a general thing with the game. There's huge potential, but that potential will only really come to the fore once the game has been in the oven a little longer.

No Rest for the Wicked's primary game design is about fighting the many monsters brought on by the plague. This is where No Rest for the Wicked stands out from other isometric role-playing games in the same style, as the combat is very Dark Souls-like. Not only do you massacre monsters by the hundreds like in Diablo, but every single opponent you face is deadly and you have to learn their attack patterns to defeat them. If you don't, you'll get your arse kicked and, just like in Dark Souls, you'll be sent back to the last place you saved the game. However, in contrast to Dark Souls, the monsters you defeat don't come back when you restart. This was a pretty big problem for me when I got caught by the first boss in the game, which absolutely battered me. Normally I would have grinded a lot and come back stronger, but it's hard when the monsters don't come back. I'm thinking this is something that will be changed as it's illogical game design in my eyes.

No Rest for the Wicked
No Rest for the Wicked

The character system itself is also like in Dark Souls, and as you level up you have to put points into strength, stamina, health and so on, and the weapons you find can only be used if you have the right skills at a high enough level. What you put the points into will also influence the way you play the game. I chose the regular short sword because it doesn't take as much stamina to block enemy blows, allowing you to dodge and generally be more mobile. With heavier weapons, it takes more stamina to move, but you do more damage. It's all familiar to an old Dark Souls veteran. It works fine, but I can't imagine how you can get by with the heavier weapons as you can do next to nothing when you run out of stamina. I think this is one of the areas that needs to be tested more by Moon Studios while the game is in Early Access. The same with the monsters, which are quite unbalanced in some cases.

Another complaint I have is that your character moves very slowly and you have to hold down a button to run. This can make your character feel very heavy and clumsy, and the precise control that the game requires can be very variable in quality. These are things that can be changed and will probably be changed when Moon Studios receives feedback on the game. I hope so, because No Rest for the Wicked is a diamond in the rough that just needs to have a few unsharp facets polished so that it can shine as it deserves. So, keep an eye out for No Rest for the Wicked. There's something special here that could potentially revitalise the action role-playing genre. I've savoured every moment, frustrations and all, because it's good and challenging entertainment in No Rest for the Wicked.

08 Gamereactor UK
8 / 10
Engaging core story. Fantastic and gorgeous art style. Heaps of potential. Great RPG systems.
Still a little ripe and undercooked in places. Rough around the edges. Combat and movement can be frustrating.
overall score
is our network score. What's yours? The network score is the average of every country's score

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