Unicorn Overlord Review

A Triumph in Tactical RPGs

I have yet to play a Vanillaware game that wasn’t great, and Unicorn Overlord is Vanillaware in top form. A tactics RPG in the vein of titles like Fire Emblem and Final Fantasy Tactics, Unicorn Overlord takes aspects from these and combines them to make one of the best tactics RPGs I’ve played in recent memory.

A Classic Story with Vanillaware’s Signature Touch

Unicorn Overlord has a simple premise. The player controls an exiled prince who aims to liberate the kingdom from an emperor who’s usurped the crown. While this story may not be groundbreaking, Vanillaware excels in its presentation.

As the leader of a rebellion, players are faced with choices on how to lead — will they be forgiving of antisocial behavior, or will they choose to punish or kill? This decision-making process not only affects the number of characters the player can recruit but also has long-reaching repercussions. I was pleasantly surprised to see a decision made early in the game pay off twenty hours later. While this morality system might not satisfy those who crave major consequences from their choices, Unicorn Overlord offers a refreshing take on second chances and moral ambiguity.

Rich Characters and Engaging Narrative

Supporting the choice system is the strength of Unicorn Overlord’s characters. With over 60 characters, each with unique designs, introductions, and motives for joining the rebellion, the game creates a diverse and engaging cast.

Though not every character can be fully developed, many remain relevant throughout the campaign. By the third major area of the map, I found myself a bit overwhelmed by managing such a large army, but the game balances character relevance and development well.

Dynamic Combat and Strategy

Unicorn Overlord’s combat is a mix of real-time strategy and tactical decision-making. Battles can be paused at the player’s discretion to make decisions such as ordering units, using area-of-effect spells, or adjusting formations. Once ready, combat proceeds without direct player control.

Battles are rewarding, often with objectives like eliminating enemies or capturing bases. The game keeps strategies varied, sometimes requiring defensive play to survive enemy swarms or focusing on eliminating watchtowers to avoid ranged attacks.

Each character has unique abilities, making it essential to use the right units and abilities strategically. Unicorn Overlord’s complexity grows as players master its systems, preventing the game from becoming stale or easily breakable.

Base Management and Relationship Building

Leading a rebellion involves more than just battles. After liberating an area, players contribute to restoring towns, gaining honor points, increasing renown, and unlocking new locations. This base management aspect offers a refreshing break from combat and is surprisingly engaging.

Characters who fight together gain rapport and unlock conversations. Players can also increase rapport by having characters share meals at taverns. Marriage is an option for virtually every character, and while the main character can only be male, he can marry other men, which is a progressive feature for a JRPG.

Visual and Artistic Excellence

Unicorn Overlord’s art is outstanding, showcasing Vanillaware’s classic hand-drawn style. The visuals are a feast for the eyes, with detailed animations that convey each character’s personality and class. The game’s art, from character designs to the mouth-watering food at taverns, is masterfully executed.

Conclusion

Unicorn Overlord presents an experience that is both incredibly deep and highly streamlined. For fans of immersive RPGs with rich mechanics and visual flair, it’s a must-play. Vanillaware has once again proven their prowess in creating a memorable and engaging tactical RPG that stands out in the genre.

5 1 vote
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