REVIEW: The Undead Syndrome 2

And then, like a hopeful ray of light shining down from a bizarre Japanese sun, The Undead Syndrome 2 ($1.00) was released onto the indie channel. Only momentarily blinded by its arrival, my heart stirred at the sight, and I was bathed in memories of foggy environs, KI powers, crystal implants, and giant, vein-covered babies. As the sequel to one of the oddest experiences around (and a personal favorite), this new game had quite a bit to live up to.

Once again channeling parts of all the great, classic survival horror games (notably Silent Hill and Parasite Eve), you’re dropped into the continuing saga of our unknown— and possibly murdered— female lead. After the events of the first game, she wakes up in an alien structure, impaled on a spike. Nearby, others are similarly hung up, including her attacker. She learns the Matrix-like truth that she is being ‘plugged into’ the unending nightmare she’s experiencing, and that whoever or whatever is behind it all is studying them for research purposes. Hmm, guess we’ll be taking the red pill today.

The game’s alien rabbit-hole leads back into the interconnected nightmare, and it’s as strange (and familiar) as ever, morphing from claustrophobic Japanese-style rooms to large, open dreamscapes filled with all sorts of ugly creations bent on stopping you. Using the gifted-to-you ability to shoot energy from your hand (known as KI), you’ll have to cleanse the dream bit by bit, exploring, finding keys and other useful items through some simple platforming, and then revisiting old areas once you’ve gained a new way forward.

That route is mostly trial and error, mind you, as one of my biggest issues with the previous game— the lack of a map or objective markers— leads to some guesswork once again. Helpful floating text in the environment occasionally points you in the right direction or offers a clue to solving some basic puzzles (plus it looks really cool), but it’s largely on you to make a mental diagram of your surroundings and remember which doors were locked the last time you came through. If you’re like me, you’ll get lost a few times before eventually stumbling onto the path the game wants you to take.

Combat feels more amped-up this time around, introducing new enemy types and larger battles, for better and for worse. Given that foes respawn the minute you leave, and backtracking plays a huge role in the game, you’ll be fighting a lot. A lot. Thankfully, the RPG-style leveling and versatile body implants return, rewarding you for fighting those waves of enemies and experimenting with your crystal loadout, trading off KI power or health for greater protection from poison or paralyzing blows. The higher the percentage, the less susceptible you will be to enemy attacks, and really, this perk is worth its weight in the diamonds you’ll equip. Trust me.

The Undead Syndrome 2 - Screen

That’s right, random status ailments rear their ugly head again, and are more annoying than ever. Having to pause mid-fight to bring up the menu and scroll down to the required item is a momentum breaker, and that’s assuming you’re carrying the herbs you need. While enemies drop money (the mysterious spectral salesman and his store are back!) and said healing items, it’s never a guarantee you’ll have what you need in any situation. With the hulking crab-baby bosses (a total of three) guarding the keys you’ll need to progress deeper into your nightmare, you’d be wise to stock up.

Each fight plays the same, with you first attempting to hit their weak points on their arms to expose their head, which takes more damage. This is easier said than done, with the game’s loose combat controls not-suited to precision hits. All this while the bosses give chase, stomping you and inflicting those goddamn status ailments you’ll learn to loathe. Your best bet is to carry plenty of curative items and use the game’s speed run feature to keep a distance buffer between you and them. Otherwise, you may be forced to restart or backtrack to a shop to purchase more. Which is… very not fun.

It’s a shame, as the rest of the game flows well-enough. It ends on a cliffhanger, of course, without any definitive showdown or further exposition. Although abrupt ends tend to infuriate (especially after another 3+ hours of work), that means we can probably expect an additional chapter or two in the series at some point. Which I’m all for. Minus those truly terrible boss fights and the absence of a map, The Undead Syndrome 2 is an intriguing follow-up to an already plenty-intriguing original that fans should enjoy.

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This review is also featured at Indiepitome

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12 thoughts on “REVIEW: The Undead Syndrome 2”

  1. “She wakes up in an alien structure, impaled on a spike.”
    … This suddenly feels very Freudian all of a sudden, and the “giant, vein-covered babies” are certainly not helping!

  2. What’s this green cloud supposed to be, it often seems to follow the main character. Seriously, is it just me or does it look like she’s suffering from smelly flatulence?

    1. I would say it depends on her diet…. but otherwise, the green cloud is more of a visual effect. Other times, it’s used to indicate that you can’t go a certain way yet, leading to a looping portal back into the same room.

  3. Ok, let get this out first, I’m not a shallow guy, I not even good looking myself, but…. this early N64 graphics just urgggg. I like the Minecraft looks, the 2.5D of Doom and Duke Nukem 3D (weird I have not seen clones of that style in the channel only a wave shooter that was soso) but this 3D I just can’t take. I tried the demo of the 1st one and could not get into it. It might be that young gamers curse that graphics matters, but in my case are only 3D games, old stuff like Atari, Nes, all that I can take. But this… well hard for me to swallow. I probably will give it a second chance. Talking about that, all ppl that comment here often seems older, I guess it for the way they write but I might be wrong, is seems that indie channel lovers are in their 30s, and the youngers into the boobs games. Not saying all ppl are that age, but mine seems the minority. Unless you met the developer in your trip to Japan (or was it Tokyo?) there’s is no “1st to reply to this comments” on this one, the only way to know if I will like it is to spend the dollar, demo not help much here, what to do boyo, what to do? I might try it. They are also some indies on PC I want to get so that will give me time to think, not playing much PC nowadays hard to get back to mouse and keyboard, I don’t know why developers not add controller support, the only ones seems to do that are the ports of the Xbox indies, maybe the engine have it by default or something.

    1. Try this nifty perk called xPadder on PC, you can bind a controller to keyboard keys mate.
      As for this? Well we all make our choices not knowing what will come of it. This is one of those times.
      Your money mate.

    2. @Saansilt & xionix: There’s always a way around the keyboard and mouse setup, which Saansilt said. Actually surprised as the amount of support that Xbox and PS controllers get nowadays on PC. There was that mini ‘war’ a few years back where console guys said PC was dead, and everybody started choosing sides and throwing tantrums. Nice to see we can all (somewhat) get along once again. Lot of cross-ports between the two parties, which is always good for business.

      @xionix: Probably could have hunted him down if he lives in the Tokyo area. Would’ve needed a translator, though. 🙂

      And hey, I’m approaching my mid-30s, so watch what you say about us ‘old folks’. I love my boob games as much as the younger crowd. I’m playing ‘Conception II’ on the Vita right now, and that’s about as cheesy and childish as you can get, boob-wise.

      I think the graphics for The Undead Syndrome may not be as impressive these days, with the good-looking stuff we’ve been getting. But two years ago, when the original came out, this was as nice as it got on XBLIG. Seriously, it’s one of those fairly-large games you don’t normally see, if you’re talking about content. Hardly anyone does a 3D adventure game, let alone one with cutscenes and a deep RPG / implant system. Still impressive to behold, even by today’s standards. That said, the boss fights in this one…. just terrible stuff. And the status effects. Really annoying stuff. Hoping the Dev fixes those issues for Part Three. This is another game I’d like to see ported over to Xbox One once the ID@Xbox program opens up to all. People are missing out. 🙂

    3. Well, I’ve reached that age where I don’t give a crap about graphics any longer (I am in my mid 30’s, was born the year the original Space Invaders got released). That’s one of the reasons I most likely won’t get one of the new consoles. That, and I don’t really need all those new features tbh.

      It’s more about gameplay, while good graphics have a low priority for me. I just don’t get any enjoyment any more playing games with shiny graphics but dull and soulless gameplay. And it seems like most of those younger gamers today judge a game solely by its looks without even trying it. How many times have you seen comments like “LOLZ LOOKS SHIT, DIS GAEM SUCKS” for a mediocre looking, but otherwise good game.

      Anyhow, I basically gave up on AAA titles a long time ago and don’t really miss them. There’s so much free stuff / cheap indie titles out there, and most of the time I enjoy them more than playing some £40 retail game.

    4. Hard to knock that kind of argument. Makes sense to me, although I still have that ‘youthful spark’ towards AAA games and the new consoles. Graphics matter to me only insofar as creating a unique and detailed world. If you’re just going to shoot something over and over in that world, then yeah, not so much. Really, the increased processing power can be used for evil or for good, and I’m hoping developers harness that power in a constructive way. Of the big games coming in the next year or so, I’m split about even on stuff that looks interesting and stuff that just looks good-looking.

      As far as ‘“LOLZ LOOKS SHIT, DIS GAEM SUCKS”, haha, that one had me laughing. Because truth. A current example is Watch Dogs. Everyone was high on praise for it, then it hit a delay, and the first thing everyone said when it came back was… ‘What happened to the graphics? It looks like shit now, I’m canceling my preorder.’ As if that was the dealbreaker. Kids these days.

      Although developers / publishers jump on that bandwagon as well. EA quit the WiiU over graphics, then Frostbite did that whole April Fool’s joke at Nintendo’s expense: http://kotaku.com/frostbites-april-fools-joke-is-kinda-mean-1556136401 …So I guess we all idolize the pretty, shiny things to some extent.

    5. Don’t get me wrong, if there’s an awesome game and it looks great, that’s a win win. What I’m trying to say is that good graphics are not mandatory for me. The only genre where I do care about them are simulators, but that’s about it. And let’s be honest, consoles are not known for being a platform for simulators, plus you can get my favourite one on PC for free (Orbiter Space Flight Simulator). That reminds me, haven’t been on the lunar surface for ages.

      So yeah, looks like I’ll skip the current generation and concentrate on PC, while I try to enjoy the rest of 360’s life cycle.
      But if you would excuse me now, there’s a Saturn V waiting for me to take me to the moon… and back (if I don’t mess up).

    6. @30s+ people
      Wait wait wait, hold on playas, I think I got miss understood, not know if was my spelling (I’m a latin guy) or the way I express myself. Lets start with this, one of my favorite games on Xbox is OFDP, one my favorite games of last year was To The Moon, and one of my favorite company that make games on PC is Wadjeteye, now guess what… all those are indies and but also 2D games, (Wadjeteye make games old school Sierra style, and I love Gabriel Knight). Most of my playtime are spend on indies, my only errrr…. dislike is 3D ugly games. I cant stand those bland graphics, I even got Banjo-Tooie on Xbox Arcade but got bored when I reach a BLAND UGLY CIRCUS and I stopped playing. I can play games like Threads Of Fate, Vagrant Story (Psx) fine,but those early N64 3D style I just cant, it was mostly for the lack of space of the cartridge, they have to make those bland texture, but games like Ocarina Of Time and Perfect Dark looked very good. I love indies (and strippers) and I’m happy when I spend my dollars on those little companies, but in the 3D area I”m picky, just like a stripper with a A cup, she really have to give me a good dance to win that dollar.

      @Saansilt @boyo (Tim)
      Xpadder I heard about that, I totally forgot about it. Games like Gunpoint, The Cat Lady those games not got keyboard support. Is not about they play bad on the keys or anyting, because they do a pretty good job is just, the controller give you some power I dont know. Still wonder why not all games support it, I mean what the developers are thinking about when they make those games, strippers?

    7. @Soosh: I get what you’re saying. They’re expensive toys to own, and prettier visuals aren’t always enough to sway people. Thought I’d only need one next-gen system this time around, but then I jumped in and got both. I promise myself a lot of things, and break those promises time after time.

      Simulations, eh? Never been my thing, but realism is certainly a necessity there. The closest I get to space simulators is Star Wars. 🙂 Good Luck on your mission nonetheless, lest you end up stranded, a la Sandra Bullock in Gravity.

      @xionix: I got ya, man. I knew what you were saying, but I thought I’d have some fun with you. No harm, no foul. 🙂 I’m glad we’re graphically-capable of better than the N64 days, trust me, although I think I have some deep-rooted love for those ‘blurry textures and green fog’. It was the N64’s calling card, so how could you not love it? Mario 64 and Banjo-Kazooie were favorites for me as well, although I never played the remakes on Xbox Live. The blurry stuff is an acquired taste, kinda like the strippers with A cups.

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