The opening minutes of Unto the End definitely help to set your expectations of what this game is all about. You’re in a sparse looking wilderness and waved off by your family to go hunting for food. Of course it isn’t long before you get into trouble. After trying to chase after a deer you end up falling through some thin ice into a strange cave system filled with eerie looking creatures. You are all alone and no one is coming to help you.
The game has a very simplistic style, not just in how it looks but also in how much information it gives you. There isn’t a lengthy tutorial to ease you into the game and there also isn’t loads of information splashed across the screen to tell you how much health you have or where to go next. Instead you have to pay attention and look out for the little details, like a few pixels of blood dripping down your beard, or a doorway hidden in the gloom.
Unto the End Review – Frozen Wasteland
This is an unforgiving land. It’s one where you constantly need to watch your step as one wrong move can easily see you fall to your death or walk straight into a trap. At times it can feel like the game is punishing you for your curiosity. Thankfully there are plenty of checkpoints, but it can get tiresome seeing the screen dim to black once again as you’ve misjudged yet another jump between platforms.
Occasionally you’ll come across little campfires where you’ll be able to rest up and also get flashbacks to when you were at home with your wife and child. These memories allow you to practice your combat and boy will you need to practice.
Combat is much more deliberate and strategic then many other action games. Your opponent can attack from high or low and you’ll need to read their body language to block these accordingly. At times you’ll have to block a string of their attacks before a brief window will open up where you can land one of your own. If you’re the type of gamer who likes to rush in and hack away at your foe then you’re likely to end up with a sword to the gut.
Unto the End Review – Everything You Need
I really liked that you’re pretty much given all the tools you need to succeed at the beginning of the game. There’s no extravagant skill tree to master or fancy new moves to unlock, instead you just need to learn to use what you already have. You can craft better armor and things like tonics and small throwing knifes, but these are fairly simple additions. To succeed you just need to learn how to attack and block.
The protagonist moves slowly and at times, when I tried to use things like the feint move, I would frequently find that I could barely complete the animation before an enemy would just go ahead and stab me. Fights can very quickly turn bad, and you’ll only be able to take a few hits before it’s all over. Even after you win a fight you can still end up dead if you don’t take care of any bleeding wounds. Supplies to patch you up are in short supply so it can sometimes feel like everything is stacked against you.
If you’re struggling to react quickly enough to the prompts given by enemies then I’d really recommend taking advantage of the combat assist mode. This slows down the combat and gives you an extra little bit of time to think. It’s not much slower but it can help. To be honest, how well you get on with the game is likely to depend on your level of patience. If you get easily stressed and try to rush through fights then Unto the End will quickly punish you, which is likely to leave you feeling frustrated.
There will be times when you can avoid conflict altogether. Even though you don’t share a common language with the creatures you come across sometimes something as simple as sheathing your sword and offering up some simple herbs or other supplies can be enough to make a brief and very fragile friendship. You can’t avoid every fight like this but it’s nice that the world isn’t against you all the time.
I really do have to compliment the sound and music design of Unto the End as it does a great job of creating the perfect atmosphere. Everything from the quiet sounds of water dripping from the ceiling, to snow crunching underfoot, and the labored breath of the protagonist, it really works well at drawing you in. The music is also quite subtle, but builds up in all the right places to create the perfect mood.
Unto the End has a wonderfully minimalistic style and while I enjoyed much of my time exploring its world the combat did eventually start to drag. It’s unforgiving action can start to get tiresome even with the generous checkpoint system. If you’re a button mashing kind of gamer then it’s probably best to give this one a miss.
Unto the End review code provided by publisher. Version 1.02 reviewed on a standard PlayStation 4. For more information on scoring, please read our Review Policy.