Undead Knights had nobody representing it at Sony's PSP media frenzy, but the game pretty much speaks for itself. In the moaning screams of the undead, that is.
The story doesn't seem too hard to follow: There was a king who had some knights and he decided to kill them and one of their girlfriends because one of the knights didn't like his new wife. So now they're Undead Knights who control zombies and turn other people into zombies. Or just kill everybody – that's their other modus operandi.
What Is It? Undead Knights is a hack-‘n'-slash adventure game for the PSP. Players take the role of Romulus, Remus or Sylvia and set about killing or turning undead all the forces of the king who offed them in the intro movie. Once an NPC is turned into a zombie with a simple press of the O button, players can control the zombies to kill yet more people or organise themselves into platforms or formations that will solve puzzles later in the game.
What We Saw I played through Chapter 1 of the game (called Duke Gloucester's Lands) three times, each with a different character.
How Far Along Is It? The release date is set for September 29.
What Needs Improvement? Targeting With Zombies Is Fiddly: Much like the game Overlord, you're expected to command your zombies to sweep entire areas, picking off cowering NPCs as they go. To go into command mode, you only need to press one of the face buttons and a reticule pops up on screen that you can move around with the analogue stick. The zombies follow it and pounce on whatever the reticule highlights. I had a bit of trouble with this because sometimes the knights I wanted to attack where cowering at my feet and I couldn't get the reticule to target them. I'd have to exit command mode, back up, and then go back into command mode to re-sweep the area.
So Goth, It Hurts: I'm into it, but based on the overwrought opening text of the mission ("It began as it ended…with a wedding."), I wonder if some people will be turned off by the Goth instead of amused by it.
What Should Stay The Same? Nice And Easy Controls: The combat and zombie-turning controls work very smoothly. The X button did most of the heavy lifting for me because it's the quick-attack, but you can also press Square for heavy attacks and randomly tap O to grab the nearest guy and start turning him into a zombie (there's a gauge that fills up — and the more injured the guy is, the fast the gauge fills). The attack animations chain together without much pausing in between moves. So if you get a large enough mob on screen (I counted about ten enemies plus three of my zombies at one time), the combat becomes a soothing experience of hack-slash-turn zombie-repeat.
Character Variety: I liked Remus best because he was the fastest character; but I appreciate having three styles of combat to choose from. Also, I dig that I can play as a chick.
Tag, You're A Zombie! It was really fun to wade into a mob of enemy knights and just start randomly turning people into zombies. The zombies then turn on their former shield mates and wreak havoc, freeing you up to run to the next mob and tag a few more for undead servitude.
Final Thoughts I enjoyed this game, even if it didn't look all that amazing (needs a bit more polish, I think). The controls were simple and the mechanic of zombie-making appealing. So unless the word Goth makes you break out in hives, you might want to give it a go.
Note: All images are from the Japanese version of the game.