Unicorn Overlord – Game Review


Unicorn Overlord – Perhaps because PC gaming is not popular in Japan, it is rare to find a strategy game from the land of the ‘rising sun’ with real-time elements (Real Time Strategy – or RTS for short), instead it will mostly be the style of Turn Based Strategy (TBS) with many familiar brands belongs to the childhood of Vietnamese gamers of the 8X generation such as: Wood Emperor (Fire Emblem) or Crusades (Brigandine).

This is because the RTS game series often has a very fast tempo, the number of units to control is up to hundreds, tens of thousands, sometimes overwhelming the whole screen, requiring players to use a mouse and keyboard to promptly come up with a plan and handle necessary tasks in the game, instead of using a small number of buttons on console controllers.

But in 2007, a Japanese developer named Vanillaware Overcame this obstacle with the game Grimgrimoire on the PS2, bringing an innovative combination of real-time tactics with a 2D Side-Scrolling screen design that later became a feature of the company’s name through other quality products such as Odin Sphere, Dragon’s Crown or Muramasa: Demon’s Blade.

And on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of cooperation with the issuer ATLUS (holds the rights to publish the game in Japan, while the international version due to SEGA Recently, Vanillaware continued to make fans ‘stand still’ when announcing the project Unicorn Overlord, another strategy game that blends both RTS and TBS genres, adds a bit of RPG role-playing nature and also runs ‘smoothly’ on handheld devices like the Nintendo Switch!

Just hearing it is hard to believe, right?

Let’MarkGame find out what the reality is like through the following review!


Tactical style… addictive!

For ease of visualization, let’s relate the overall gameplay of Unicorn Overlord Like a sphere with a thickness of three layers, the outermost shell is a large open world called World Map with elements of ‘dynamic weather’ (day and night and real-time weather change), where players can move around every corner looking for hidden secrets or collect scattered resources to help people Build villages, exchange items.

After finishing Chapter 1, players can choose which direction to go anywhere on the World Map, even straight to … The final boss is always okay, but of course it will be a big challenge, because the areas closely related to the story line have high-level blockers, easily ‘wiping out’ the player’s squad in one ‘note’ if not carefully prepared.

Unicorn Overlord

This World Map is similar to the familiar world ‘wayfinding’ map of Japanese style RPGs (JRPGs) in the past, there are mobile ‘monsters’ running back and forth that appear randomly on the road, often depicted in the form of classic 2D drawings that if the main character ‘touches’ will trigger a duel with them. (In the past, it was also known as ‘random encounter’).

The next layer will appear as instances in MMORPGs (massively multiplayer online role-playing) games that instead of dungeons, will be battlefield areas erected on a reduced scale from the main locations on the World Map, citadels erected at that time will become deployment points or key bases weak (Command Post) where the goal of each battle is usually to capture the base or destroy the leader of the opposing side.

Unicorn Overlord

These battlefields have an ‘isometric’ view similar to that in Fire Emblem: Three Houses But the operating mechanism must be the same as the game series Total Wars Sega’s more, where the player is able to move freely in real time, the only difference is that each unit is controlled without soldiers but is called Squads consisting of one to a maximum of five characters, with a leader having auxiliary characteristics (e.g. the captain of horsemen will move faster than infantry)

And here we will enter the final, most fascinating and interesting class in the world.bee Unicorn Overlord, face-to-face encounters between the two teams.

Unicorn Overlord

The role-playing element is shown in the fact that each character in the Squad has a separate AP (Action Points) and PP (Passive Points) stats, AP will be used to attack and use moves and PP is intrinsic to be activated when certain conditions are met. For example, the Hoplite class automatically uses a shield to support a teammate to consume one PP and the shaman who performs a ‘debuff’ spell on the entire opponent at the beginning of the battle will exchange two PPs, so that the two teams sequentially take turns attacking and using internal until their AP is exhausted, then if one side has not been completely ‘wiped out’, the side with the higher health bar (HP) will win.

The unique feature is that these battles are completely automated, that is, the player in addition to pressing fast forward or skip the entire animation, the rest … nothing needs to be done.

The beauty of Unicorn Overlord It is in the distribution of the squad, arranging equipment, and aligning the position of each character class so that it is most reasonable because just a ‘small’ stat like Initiative is slightly better than the opponent, helping the character to strike the first blow can also change the whole situation of the match.

Unicorn Overlord

Also Unicorn Overlord there’s also a list of AI command combinations called ‘Tactics’ that are relatively similar to the Gambits system. Final Fantasy XII, that is, instead of leaving everything in its default state, you can manually set both the attack and the intrinsic of each character to activate only under specific conditions. For example, you can only use healing spells when you are below 50% HP, you must prioritize critical buffs on the character using the bow or only use counterattacks when the attacking party is the Knight, and so on and so on.

Everything is no longer simple in a few simple rote ‘incantations’ such as ‘sword carved ax, ax carved spear’ but expanded to exponential with an extremely massive number of character classes covering all aspects: melee, air combat, range, magic to even mounts, dragon or by code.

At times, the writer arranges two cavalry in the front row as a ‘bulldozer’ to glide the opponent’s infantry, at other times, put a Warrior ahead with the ability to destroy armor, and the rear arrays can arrange two archers to ‘sniper’ flying targets or change into a monk to both buff and heal, It is a multitude of shapes with tens of thousands of combined outcomes that players can think of.

From the middle of the game onwards, if you take the trouble to ‘plow’ both the main and secondary quests to increase the Renown score bar symbolizing the reputation of the entire army to rank B or higher, the player will also be promoted to a more advanced class that up to this point, the writer has really ‘consumed’… Dozens of hours of ‘scratching your hair’ just to fine-tune everything, to come up with the best offensive and defensive options.

But the feeling of immediately taking a sip of ‘chill chill’ tea enjoying your teams ‘issued’ to the opponent is too much… comment!

You also do not need to worry too much because the battle layout or tactical setup is actually very simple and accessible, the game even provides many sample formations with formulas for players to refer to and apply, not to mention can also adjust the difficulty level of the match at any time.

Praise must also be given to the release team Unicorn Overlord When ‘boldly’ allowing players to unleash ‘playing around’ and feel the product by themselves through a demo that lasts up to … 5 hours without any restrictions or cuts.

This has a very positive effect, at least in the case of the writer because just one attempt through the tactical mechanism of the game is difficult… Get out!

The beauty of Unicorn Overlord It is in the distribution of the squad, arranging equipment, adjusting the position of each character class so that it is most reasonable

Strong cast of characters

The game is set in the poetic land of Fevirth, inhabited by many races and mythical creatures living together with the high-fantasy colors we often see in novels such as The Lord of the Rings or A Song of Ice and Fire (previously made into a movie by HBO Game Of Thrones).

Players will follow Prince Alain to build the Liberation Army to reclaim the throne from Emperor Galerius, who once carried out the coup plot.The capture of the kingdom of Cornia caused him to exile ten years ago.

To be fair, Unicorn Overlord There is a plot that is only called temporary, even many details are somewhat predictable, but the cohesion and correlation and contrast between the powerful character lines are the highlights that make the difference for the game.

To realize his ideal, the first thing Alain and his courtiers must do is ‘horse recruitment’ that players will have two forms to perform: one is to hire (it must be said to buy outright) mercenaries in the fortresses captured on the World Map but most of the rest comes from the storyline, through the player’s decisive conversation choices.

These choices will appear throughout the game from the main and secondary missions and have the same contextual effect as the missions in The Witcher 3 rather than simply choosing ‘for yes’, even sometimes they are somewhat … puzzle players when some NPC characters know… Tricking up difficult family circumstances to beg for spared lives.

As once the writer put a notorious pirate in prison, he easily escaped and returned to take revenge later, while another time spared the life of a ‘bearhead’ who was later helped by him to cross the rugged desert, and then admitted his friend and sister to the army.

It is worth mentioning that players can win up to more… 70 characters, from all races located all over the World Map, each have separate events called Rapport Conversations, gradually ‘unlocked’ after letting them fight on the front lines in the same Squad unit, quite similar to the ‘pairing’ mechanics in Fire Emblem: Three Houses.

Most unique of all, Alain can also give… Ring of the Maiden for a player’s favorite character, making the dream of choosing ‘waifu’ (virtual wife) of many anime game fans come true.

And if all that wasn’t convincing enough, surely the negative quality of the Unicorn Overlord It will easily make you ‘fall’.

The plot is only at a temporary level, even many details are somewhat predictable, but the cohesion and correlation and contrast between powerful characters is the highlight that creates different value for the game

Still the familiar 2D anime character design style is sharp, eye-catching and the background design is very impressively cared for, from the scene of the green sprawling steppe on the territory of Cornia, the barren desert of Drakengard to the ghostly sacred forest of Elheim always brings new feelings, Excited for the writer when he first arrived.

Not to mention that each of the above locations is also accompanied by specialized background music that changes day and night, sometimes melodious and sometimes heroic, the forest is really the signature mark of the development team at Vanillaware that cannot be misplaced.


The challenge is not high

It is also surprising that at the highest difficulty (Expert), Unicorn Overlord still does not really make the writer ‘build’ like some other 2D strategy games.

Partly because the mechanism of determining victory and defeat lies in the difference in the HP health bar between the two sides at the end of each match, rather than having to wipe out the opponent’s squad at once, so if players rely on that to combine with some hallows (items), they can think of many tricks to … fraudulent!

Specifically, in the Coliseum, the writer managed to knock out the defending champions when they had a larger margin to … 20 levels (levels), which thereby win many genuine rewards, take advantage of it as a great advantage later.

The only annoyance when increasing the difficulty level is often being too limited in travel time in large battlefield areas, hopefully the game company will be able to fix it somewhat through future updates.

Not to mention, although most of the army has a certain balance from the beginning of the game, but closer to the end, when players own a decent number of characters with ‘hegemonic’ equipment, the balance of power has significantly diverged, some classes of soldiers like Vanguard are weak when the skill set does not bring much value compared to those classes other premium.

The only annoyance when increasing the difficulty level is often being too limited in travel time in large battlefield areas

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