Ever since the rise of From Software's Souls titles, there has been plenty of interest from various studios around the world looking to mimic part of the decision, and offer a challenging and meaningful action-RPG. It's important to find your own niche, of course, and it would seem that Swedish outfit Toadman Interactive has done just that with their post-apocalyptic sci-fi third-person shooter Souls-like, Immortal Unchained.
The story of Immortal Unchained is being kept fairly secret for the time being, but the premise is what you'd expect from an Elder Scrolls title, that is you're escaping from prison at the start of the game and find yourself in this dreary alien world. We can't help but feel some Riddick vibes too as the game aims for a mix of sci-fi and fantasy elements.
Immortal Unchained was first shown off at Gamescom back in August, and back in December Toadman Interactive brought a playable demo to PSX in order to gather some player feedback. We get to sit down with the same demo in their offices. It's an introduction to the combat, a vertical slice if you will, that concludes with what we can only presume is a very minor boss that still managed to kick us out the door and send us packing.
Immortal Unchained offers a peculiar third-person perspective where, rather than offering an over-the-shoulder view, you get to see yourself in a way that allows for better control and judgement of distances. It makes sense in a Souls-like, as you will need to keep an eye on attack range and enemy patterns.
The gunplay itself is what you expect from an action title, although here there's a lock-on system that also allows you to target individual limbs so that you can take out your enemies tactically. It takes a little getting used to, but we learned that the developers have worked really hard on this part of the game's design as they believe it's important to make sure that it not only conveys a sense of playing an RPG, but that it also allows for player skill to shine.
There's a constant sense of being vulnerable, of not wanting to walk out into the open where more than one enemy could start lighting you up. We also managed to run into a spike trap so you'll need to be aware of your surroundings.
There is a rather massive narrative to explore here with plenty of voiced dialogue to sit through, even if our demo contained none of that. Toadman has taken this approach to the storytelling whereby each character will speak from their own specific point of view, and so it'll be up to the player to interpret and make judgements themselves in order to piece the truth together. It sounds interesting, but whether or not the actual story itself holds up remains to be seen.
There does appear to be a rather elaborate system for loot and pieces that you can use to upgrade your weapons. There is also a Bonfire-like system in place that will make Souls-players feel right at home. Presumably, there will be a great deal of customisation here to allow players to shape their character to fit their preferred playstyle.
Toadman Interactive may not be all that well known, not even in their native Sweden. They've worked as consultants on many titles, particularly they've been working closely with Fatshark over the years, having contributed to Escape from Dead Island and Vermintide. They make use of the same engine, the Stingray Engine (formerly Bitsquid), and while it may not hit the heights of, say Unreal Engine, it does the job Toadman needs it to and every looks crisp and clear.
As we visited the studio they were coming close to the point in the alpha where they feel they'll want to invite players in to give them feedback on what they've done so far. There's no firm date set for this alpha test or early access, but by the sounds of it, it won't be long now.