Coming from Studio Pixel Punk is another entry in the retro styled Metroidvania genre, this time by the name of UNSIGHTED. Featuring a world of robots, where humans are very much seen as the enemy, you take on the role of Alma, tasked with not only saving your friends, but pretty much the whole robot world. No pressure then! So, come with me to a world of robots, combat and strangely touching romance…
The story of UNSIGHTED is really very good indeed. There was a meteor that crashed down to Earth, and this contained a substance called Anima. Anima had a neat side effect in that it made the robots gain sentience. However, what Anima gave with one hand it took away with the other, and the robots now not only have a life, as it were, but they also have a limited lifespan. Anima gives a robot a certain amount of hours to live, and that includes our hero robot, Alma. When it runs out, the robots become UNSIGHTED, losing themselves and turning into literal killing machines that will attack anything that moves.
Alma awakens in a ruined town after a war with the humans, and as such is given a mission to recover some shards of the meteor that were entrusted to the most powerful robots. Of course, these powerful entities are now UNSIGHTED, and as such Alma will have to administer a stern talking to and hopefully recover the shards before she runs out of time.
Time is a very pressing concern in this game, as when you aren’t doing anything in particular, maybe poking about the place looking for clues, the timer for Alma and all the other robots is continually counting down. What this means in practice is that if you faff about too much, it is entirely possible that a robot you could have spoken to and advanced a quest in one way, will become UNSIGHTED, requiring the pointy edge of your weapon to subdue.
Fortunately, there is an item that you find, called Meteor Dust, that will grant either yourself or an NPC robot an extra 24 hours of life; giving these items to robots you want to stay alive may have other benefits. As an example, giving one to a shopkeeper makes them feel more kindly towards you, and offer a bit of a discount.
The graphics of UNSIGHTED have an appealing art style, with Alma being very nicely animated, capable of moving about the place at a fair old speed, particularly as you go through the game and get new abilities such a spinny jump and a grappling hook.
Anyway, as you go on, in true Metroidvania style, you will get access to new abilities that allow you to enter new areas in the places you have visited. An example of this is the Shuriken, that allows you to sling a throwing star, and then control its flight, using it to hit switches or even transfer fire from one lamp to another. There’s a strong whiff of the earlier Zelda games about the mechanics of UNSIGHTED, and as you can imagine that can only be a good thing. The sound is all marvellous as well, with crunching impacts from the heavier melee weapons, like the War Axe, and ominous boss music as you get into the encounters. All in all, there’s nothing to complain about here.
Exploring about the place, with a little light platforming thrown in is good fun as well, and trying to figure out how to get to an enticing chest with Meteor Dust in is a good exercise for the little grey cells. There are shortcuts to find and open as well, with walls that block your progress being able to be opened from the other side, once you’ve found your way around. With both above and below ground passages to find, there’s a lot to go at.
As you’d expect, there is an upgrade path to follow as well, and this is done with the help of chips. Not the delicious fried potato snack, but computer chips. Now, when Alma starts out, she has a limited capacity for chips (not so myself, I can eat a lot of chips!), but with sufficient fighting and exploring, she can expand her capacity. Chips have different shapes and sizes, and will need to be fitted into Alma’s chip receptacle with care. With chips giving extra health and stamina all the way up to a specialised chip that allows you to throw two shuriken at once, finding the right loadout for you will require some experimentation.
The same goes for Alma’s combat loadout. You can choose two weapons, and with a vast selection to choose from, tooling her up to take on the particular challenges of one area is pretty easy. Do you go dual wield melee, dual guns, or one of each? Guns don’t do a huge amount of damage to the robots, as you’d expect, but a smack round the chops with a big axe will do wonders. The combat system seems to have taken a page out of the Dark Souls fighting manual, as you have limited stamina to either attack or dodge. Also, parrying plays a very large part in the combat, and this can open the enemies up to an extremely damaging counter attack.
Alma can also either buy or craft cogs (in addition to weapons and chips, subject to finding the blueprints lying about), and these can turn the tide of battle in your direction. Ranging from attack cogs that give you added damage for the next 20 hits, right through to defence cogs that negate the first three hits you take, these are extremely usual and a nice addition to the game.
In fact, there’s little to worry about and really the only complaint I have with the whole game is that targeting is a little imprecise; maybe a lock on mechanic would have helped with that. It’s very galling to try and hit a boss with a massive axe, say, seeing Alma put her heart and soul into the attack, only to see it miss and the boss to then give you a good shoeing. It just feels like aiming is slightly off, and given how tight the rest of the game is, it’s a bit of a shame.
In conclusion, UNSIGHTED is a great game to play, especially when you consider the co-op mode, the Boss Rush mode and the Dungeon Raid you can take part in, and further to that, the amount of replayability based on choices you make is very good indeed. It’s only the slight imprecision in the combat that stops UNSIGHTED from getting a full score, and I can honestly recommend this to everyone. It’s fast, furious, full of feeling and heart, and the story keeps everything moving along nicely. The things is, you won’t be able to save everyone… you’ll have to choose!
Pick up a copy of UNSIGHTED by visiting the Xbox Store