This title was reviewed on PC, where it is exclusively available on Steam
Unworthy is a Soul’s like 2D side-scrolling dark platformer title developed by Aleksandar Kuzmanovic. The character has risen from the dead to make his way through the world “in search of meaning” while battling ghastly creatures and menacing bosses. It has a simple appearance and control system. But don’t fool yourself into thinking this game will be easy to defeat! Unworthy is hard. Very hard. No other game has kept me on one boss for so long without any improvement. Even the game’s website tells you to prepare to die and they are not joking.
The opening scene of the game starts off by telling you that the world is broken. It then switches to a cut scene where your character is being whipped, before breaking free with your chains still attached. This gives you control of your character, allowing you to slaughter ghouls on your way out of what was most likely hell. Where else could it be if you climbed out of a grave? The rest of the story is told through small snippets of dialogue from NPCs who often speak in riddles and non-fluid sentences; adding to the mysterious atmosphere of the game.
Unworthy’s controls are simple in that you can only use basic directions, attack and dodge. You traverse the world by moving left and right across the screen, and then up and down ladders and elevators to change levels. You are unable to jump, which adds a level of challenge as you must rely on rolling to avoid damage. While these controls are simple, when encountering enemies you will have to be accurate with your movements if you don’t want your ass handed to you!
From the beginning of the game, you have a sword and shield as your only weapons. This weapon selection gives you the ability to block one hit without sustaining damage. This drains the shield ability, which then needs time to recharge before becoming active again. As you progress through Unworthy, you pick up new weapons and abilities by defeating bosses. Some of the weapons you can acquire are a hammer and a bow which allows for a different approach to killing enemies. Although the game play is entertaining, there are no new ground-breaking features for this genre of game.
Your character has four basic statistics; Health, Stamina, Attack and Defence. You gain experience points by defeating the creatures that lurk around the place allowing you to level up like a good old RPG. It is often tempting to grind in these kinds of games to make the enemies easier, but with Unworthy my hours of grinding didn’t seem to have much of an effect.
A prominent feature of the Souls series brought over to Unworthy is the “bonfire” system. Unworthy has cauldrons throughout the level which you can light to save your progress and if you die (which you most definitely will) you will respawn at the last cauldron you interacted with. Cauldrons are also used to atone, allowing you to add and increase skills such as “Thornheart” which returns damage to melee attackers. If you die you will have to make your way back to the location where you met your fate to regather your sin.
So, what is sin? Sin is similar to the souls you gather in Dark Souls. However, unlike Dark Souls where the major use of souls is to improve the stats of your character, in Unworthy you encounter a merchant from time to time who will allow you to purchase items with the sin you have accumulated.
Graphics and Sound
Unworthy has a basic colour palette, which is black, white, grey and… more grey! There are vivid splashes of bright red to symbolise blood adding an aspect of brutality to combat. This is rather beneficial for the game as it adds to the dark and unsettling mood of the game.
The music in Unworthy is remarkable and certainly one of the stand out features. The title screen has an ominous slow violin playing joined by soft operatic vocals. As soon as I loaded up the game it was evident that this was going to be a gloomy and desolate game.
With a lot of Indie developers creating Soul’s-like games at the moment it can be hard for one of these to stand out from the rest. Unworthy has its own charm with the level of atmosphere created by simple techniques. In terms of difficulty, it is one of the most challenging games I’ve encountered. Unworthy is a great addition to the genre and would be a good fix for a Soul’s fan waiting for the next FromSoftware game.