Unto the End swordfight with uglies

Genre: sword fight, side scroller, parry and roll, survival

Release Date: 2020 

Developer: 2 Ton Studios

Publisher: Big Sugar

Unto the End promises a unique experience that challenges players in novel ways, “against conventions and expectations”. Intense swordfights set in a handcrafted world… Does this 2D sidescroller play as well as it looks? Does Unto the End soar with every vindicated stroke of the mighty sword?

Story:

You’re a father, a husband. You can hunt, you can survive in the wild. Can you fight? You throw daggers and you wield a big rusty sword. But as you’ll soon find out, you’re no Conan of Cimmeria or Valhalla crazed berserker. And foolishly lost, you need to get home before the family supper gets cold.

Playability: No swordplay, more like swordpain

In Unto the End, you control a rather large looking red bearded fighter. He looks large compared to most of the enemies he encounters or the tools and weapons he uses. But pixel wise, he’s tiny. He jumps and rolls with the mere flick of your controller, lunges, parries, lights torches, opens secret doors, crafts useful salves. Very clever, but unfortunately he seems rather week kneed: he dies all the time, that’s his favourite hobby. He relishes bleeding to death, and most of his sword strikes are harmlessly blocked. With only a few words of encouragement, you’re unceremoniously shoved into the great freezing wilderness. To complete Unto the End, you will need to peruse online forums and no matter what the red bearded hero will die needlessly.  

Annoyance: Every fight is a fight against a boss

Unto the End has beautiful scenery and lighting, and rather ugly always bleeding characters. Animation is on the wooden Mr Robot side, which is particularly grating since timely parry and roll make the difference between life and death. At times, I felt I had to stop to catch my breath and enjoy the peaceful snow covered landscape. Close your eyes, feel the breeze and fresh air. Listen. But alas, always danger lurks, pesky critters and bigger uglier blokes.

Beauty: Cold poetic snow caps

Unto the End has beautiful scenery and lighting, and rather ugly always bleeding characters. Animation is on the wooden Mr Robot side, which is particularly grating since timely parry and roll make the difference between life and death. At times, I felt I had to stop to catch my breath and enjoy the peaceful snow covered landscape. Close your eyes, feel the breeze and fresh air. Listen. But alas, always danger lurks, pesky critters and bigger uglier blokes.

The Old Video Gamer’s Prattle: Finally done and not too soon 5/10

Unto the End is a numbing slug side scroller set against beautiful mountain expanses. It is a serene looking world marred by an endless and repetitive string of excruciatingly painful fights against overpowering adversaries. Unto the End could have been a great crafting and survival game, with the occasional nail biting fight. Instead, Unto the End revels in being an unfair mano a mano (or mano a monster?) game with occasional craft and puzzle as side distractions. Initial wonder for the game quickly gives way to frustration or rage (depending on your personality), then numbness under the onslaught, and then final relief as Unto the End finally ends for good. Unto the begin of the sequel of Unto the End?

If you’re into crafting and survival, try the lighthearted and cunning Don’t Starve where danger abounds too. Mischievous side scrolling can also be found in Guacamelee, though you’ll have to trade your sword for a Luchador’s fists.