Achilles: Legends Untold took me by surprise. It appeared in my feeds out of seemingly nowhere, yet from the small trailers and videos, I saw before the playtest, I was hooked. I eagerly anticipated getting the chance to preview the game and I was fortunate enough to do so. Luckily, my anticipation is seeming to pay off from what I’ve already experienced.
You play as Achilles, the warrior in Greek mythology who is said to be one of the best of the Greek army. In Legends Untold, Achilles is in the middle of a centuries-long war between Hades and Areas, and he’s sent to kill Phobos, Ares’ child. That being said, the story doesn’t take the main stage, opting for a focus on combat and exploration.
Thankfully, developer and published Dark Point Games seems to understand Souls-like and how to convert it successfully into an isometric and mythological based setting. The combat is exciting, addictive, and difficult, requiring the usual patience to take down even the most common of enemies. There were plenty of times where I failed to kill simple foes, just because I rushed in and spammed my left-click furiously.
Stamina is directly linked to your attacks, making for intense moments where I stumbled back from incoming attacks as I left myself too open. Legends Untold punishes you for combo-ing an enemy which is preparing to attack, as the delay between the final frame of your attacks to being able to attack again is fairly lengthy, especially in the heat of battle. There’s also the added benefit of a shield-throw skill, which combines the strong-armed throw of Captain America with the returning properties of Thor’s Mjolnir.
Boss fights are daunting, becoming matches of attrition instead of hack-and-slash spectacles. At one point, I took on a Skeleton King, who summons stumbling and easy-to-kill minions, but simply mindlessly slashing at these glass cannons allowed for the king to land hits. I had to dodge and move around the arena, weaving myself in and out to split them up, whilst managing my stamina and health respectively. The pat on the back I gave myself was hard, I deserved that moment of pride.
It seems that Dark Point Games are aiming for a watered-down version of a Souls-like game but in a good way. Management of weapons, upgrading gear, and the addition of a more common skill tree make for an easier entrance for newcomers to the genre. It was a welcome surprise to be able to simply swap out from a sword to a spear, without wading through five menus to even see the stats of my current equipment.
If you’re keen enough, and you should be, Achilles: Legends Untold offers many paths off the beaten track, earning you rewards and other loot in return for your continued exploration and adventure. Similar to other Souls-like games, you find yourself leaning on the closest Shrine, the Achilles equivalent to the renowned bonfire. Souls are in a limited capacity, which makes dying all the more brutal. It seems Shrines are not as often as other Souls-like games, filling me with more desperation as I fill up on enemy Souls.
Exploration is exciting, given the fact that there are plenty of helpful resources available as well as the fact that the areas which I’ve already seen were varied and pretty good looking. The isometric nature of Achilles allows for moments where I overlooked a large-scale battle between the Greeks and the Trojans from a mountain view. I wanted to get involved, despite being locked away from their war. There were also underground dark caverns where skeletons and other dark creatures lie awaiting my arrival.
Unfortunately, Achilles: Legends Untold isn’t perfect. While its combat is heavy and gripping, there are plenty of moments where the hitboxes of enemies felt unfair. I found myself wasting more stamina than required in moments where I definitely needed to keep my consumption low, simply because a hit that I'm sure landed, didn’t register.
It also feels like the Souls in Legends Untold are too sparse, with death being too much of a punishment. This is an added annoyance when the skills seem to be fairly expensive alongside the fact that the Souls come in small doses. Add in the lack of Shrines on the map, it becomes too frustrating when you die. I know I will die, it comes with the nature of the genre, but give me one chance.
That being said, Achilles: Legends Untold balances enough great mechanics, amazing environments, and addictive combat that it’s a pain worth getting through. I found myself crying, sweating, and screaming in happiness (and frustration) more often than I thought I would. There isn’t as high of a skill ceiling as expected, but the game won’t hold your hand. And I don’t want it any other way.
TechRaptor previewed Achilles: Legends Untold on PC using a copy provided by the publisher. The game does not currently have a release date.