Tag Archives: Battlepaths

REVIEW: Undead Legions

Last year’s ‘bumper-car RPG’ Battlepaths won me over with its quirky charm and unique graphical style. Oh, and the chance at epic loot. Now with Undead Legions (80 MSP), Developer Key17 Games takes a step back and turns its attention to the oft-used sub-genre of zombie wave shooters. Hey, if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em, right?

Eh, it can be wrong. The art style and eccentricities do make a return, along with the main character from Battlepaths (here representing the ‘Gunner’ class). He’s complimented by three additional allies / classes (Rogue, Mage, and Priestess; all equipped as you’d imagine). Naturally, each character comes with his or her own boosts and shortcomings to stats, and their very own special attack (grenade drop, spike trap, etc.) in two forms; a standard casting to provide some room / temporary relief, and a stronger, wider version of the spell that requires a full bar of mana.

Modes come in Classic and Survival. While the latter plays out exactly as it should (fight until you die), Classic takes the… ahem… classic approach to wave variations, sending lines of zombies and other monsters for five rounds, throwing in a hulking boss type, then repeat. Killing anything that’s walking / flying around will occasionally leave behind health and mana, keeping you focused on the hordes and continually stocked.

You’re additionally buoyed with temporary powerups (spread shot, speed) and permanent stat-boosting upgrades (by swatting at the sack-carrying goblins between rounds) that will gradually transform your chosen avatar into the epitome of a zombie slayer. All stuff you should know from prior experience. Enemies cover the familiar spectrum as well, from classic shamblers to those with ranged attacks, brutes that take more damage, etc. A boss round every few levels further distinguishes the zombie ranks, though even they’re just larger brutes to go with a larger area of attack (or a cheap bomb spread, grrr). …It’s a zombie wave shooter. You’ve seen this all before, and you’ll start to feel remarkably blasé within the first fifteen minutes of booting it up.

And though enemy variety is always appreciated over rote waves of twin-stick nothingness, some of those types can be grating to single-players. Depending on your character and / or reserve mana, you can quickly find yourself surrounded by bats or explosive spiders that like to box you in before detonating, dealing huge amounts of damage you really have no defense against. This would be less of an issue with the local multiplayer (to spread out targets and damage among), though solo runs won’t benefit from the friendly intervention.

Undead Legions - Screen

Pretty, yet familiar.

Despite competency, solid controls, and some fun moments, Undead Legions is still just a Battlepaths-themed version of every zombie wave shooter that’s ever been released. To be fair, taking it on with friends would no doubt extend the enjoyment (add points accordingly). Maybe worth it if you’ve somehow been living under a rock all these years, but it’s otherwise the same type of game you’ve seen over and over again, with precious little to separate it from the zombie pack.

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REVIEW: Battlepaths

Man, calling your game an RPG used to mean something. Androgynous party members, high-fashion battle-attire, 80-hour hairstyles… er, main quests, and mostly melodramatic storylines that nevertheless gave you a reason to Fira and Dia your way through literally thousands of fights.

Not recently. With the exception of Penny Arcade 3, every other XBLIG RPG covered here (which, yes, now comprises a grand total of 3) has suffered the same non-story fate. Battlepaths (80 MSP) lumps itself together with that crowd, though with the distinction of being mechanically-sound and far more customizable than most.

Your name changes depending on your starting stat preference, but the hero always looks like a step above Neanderthal. Villages are under constant threat from Orcs, Skeletons, and your typical RPG villains. The world is large (three huge areas, accessed once a certain quest is completed) and vibrant, but not very emotive. Don’t expect long chats.

Fighting is turn-based, fast, and seamless. You look like you’re bumper car-ing into foes (BRPG). And that combat is more or less a miniature war of attrition multiplied several times over; just thumbstick-mash in the direction of your target. Don’t fight outside your weight class, don’t get surrounded or suckered by ranged attacks, carry potions or a regenerative spell, and you’ll generally be okay (penalties for death aren’t severe). Though with that ease, comes repetition.

What nixes that tedium and makes for a more interesting formula is the idea of acquiring loot, then better loot, then epic loot. Combat and dungeon crawling are redeemed entirely with the chance to find top-notch stuff, and Battlepaths gets that part right. Every treasure chest and enemy drop is a chance to raise your standing in the world. A higher-rated armor piece or weapon isn’t necessarily the obvious choice either; like Torchlight, it’s all about stat-boosts and modifiers. Leveling up is equally inclusive. You are as lethal or as guarded as you want to play.

There is some backtracking if you’re not careful. Without a map, you can get lost, though the game does a serviceable job of pointing you in the right direction. Which is part of the problem. Complete a quest, pick up another quest, bumper car through it, loot some, and repeat. The overarching storyline is there isn’t really one. Which is a shame. Beneath the gorgeous art and well-done RPG aspects is a shallow series of missions that never escalate the conflict (whatever it is) into anything resembling a must-play.

Desert… Pyramid… Ah, I see what you did there.

And that’s okay. To be clear, Battlepaths is far from a bad game. I’m fine with it. I liked it. It takes some time to get going, and the story never does, but if you love your loot and level grinding (Me! and… Me!), you can stamp that ticket here. At 80 MSP, you get a respectable RPG-like to sink an estimated 20+ hours (whoa, and with additional challenge rooms, whoa…) into. How many of those 20 hours are memorable, though, will fluctuate from player to player.