A year and a half ago (just think how quickly time flies!) we wrote a review of the early version of Achilles: Legends Untold – an action game with roguelike and souls elements, telling about the adventures of one of the most famous heroes of Ancient Greece, the glorious Achilles (or Achilles in Western style).
On November 2 of this year, the game left the early access format and went into full release. This means it’s time to take a fresh look at Achilles: Legends Untold and see what has changed over time.
Who are you, warrior?
While combining video game genres is not unusual, it should be done with caution. When done correctly, you get the perfect blend that allows you to enjoy many mechanics at once. It’s even an ideal product for those who don’t want to dive into one type of game and prefer a toned-down version. But what happens when the combination of mechanics doesn’t make one stand out over the other? I will tell you. What’s happening is Achilles: Legends Untold. This is a game with an interesting formula, which, alas, the developers have not been able to clearly implement over the past year and a half.
Achilles: Legends Untold bills itself as a legendary RPG with intense Souls-style combat. On paper this sounds fantastic. Being able to experience the dopamine rush of games like Diablo 3 or Path of Exile combined with the challenges of games like Elden Ring or Lies of P? I’m first in line!
The game clearly takes inspiration from the specific titles mentioned above – Diablo and Soulslikes. There is no full story in the same way as in Diablo 3 or Demon’s Souls. There is a plot, but it is irrelevant. Whether you pay attention to it or not, the little bit of enjoyment you can get from the game will not change.
It all begins during the Trojan War, when Achilles leads his warriors to rescue Helen, the kidnapped wife of Menelaus. After a short tutorial and the typical nearly invincible boss of Soulslike games, Achilles dies and wakes up 10 years after the Battle of Troy with no memory of the previous events. Here the hero will have to find out what happened to the lands filled with undead and unspeakable horrors.
Although this all sounds interesting and intriguing, it is not. Instead of feeling like Achilles on a grand adventure full of new and familiar characters, the experience felt like a bad version of Hermes with all the quests I had to complete and passing messages from one place to another under the guise of exploring a new area. What could have been an epic journey became half-baked fan fiction that I can’t take anything away from. Additionally, the voice acting is some of the worst I’ve heard this year and adds nothing to the overall immersion, which is as weak as Achilles’ heel.
“Sing, goddess, about the wrath of Achilles, Peleus’ son.” Although, it’s better to keep quiet
Focusing primarily on the Souls-like part, I was expecting a challenge. In recent games such as Lords of the Fallen or Lies of P, combat is complex, requiring a lot of attention and strategy, without regard to reaction to action. You must plan how to approach your enemies before you die.
Here it all comes down to throwing two punches, rolling, throwing two punches, repeat. This is the most mind-blowing thing I’ve encountered in Souls-like combat. Plus, the imbalance of opponents is added to this. For example, the first attack of all wolves is an unblockable skill that takes away almost half of your health. This wouldn’t be a problem if the swarms were balanced or had less damage. They are more aggressive than bosses. This is just one of the many flaws in balancing and enemy design.
Moving on to the ARPG part, it tries to use a lot of systems. The isometric camera is here and I have to say it’s beautiful. The panning and movement are fantastic and make it easy to follow the character. Since the combat is similar to Soul, one would expect fewer enemies and more difficulty. No, there are a lot of enemies with annoying mechanics and no abilities to help you. This game feels less like a combination and more like a contradiction of genres, with one part trying to counteract the other.
One of the common features of both genres is the complex build of the perfect assassin with daggers or berserker with an ax and spells. There’s a Skyrim-style talent tree represented by constellations. The talent tree has walls of text that have no relevance whatsoever. Each node serves to increase characteristics, and sometimes skills. Plus, the game only gives you so many skill points that you can unlock everything and you’ll never feel like there’s a custom build.
Another important thing concerns weapons. It’s normal to change weapons in Diablo. Having knocked out the new, the best, you instantly grab it in your hands, and almost always forget about the old one.
But in games like Souls, you get a sword and upgrade it, and become attached to it until you use it to defeat the final boss of the game. Since the game’s combat mechanics are taken from Souls, I expected something similar. The game has a weapon upgrade system, which is also irrelevant, like the skill tree, because each weapon is instantly replaced by a new one.
Although this is good because it offers you to try something unusual. As a result, I never felt attached to anything in particular. Instead of trying to hook me into something specific, I felt like the game was looking for ways to give me an ephemeral experience with each system.
Visual and sound
Achilles: Legends Untold is another example of the art department bearing the brunt of the game. The dungeon designs are divine. Each of them is carefully crafted down to the smallest detail. I wanted to do more backtracking in these dungeons than in the open world.
Although the open world is not far behind. The combination of lush landscapes with dilapidated buildings creates a contrasting and beautiful feeling. Limestone buildings filled with broken urns create a landscape worthy of an epic. And this was my favorite part of the time while playing.
The animation is great. You have weight for each attack, and Achilles’ wrist movements make the swing of his weapon precise. Additionally, enemies tend to do combo attacks, and seeing one soldier jump over another’s shield to get to me and attack me was a thrill. The real titans of the game were the animators and art.
Unfortunately, the audio also has a few bad points. Today we blame voice actors when they do a bad job. Personally, I think the fault lies with the direction. I think the actor Achilles was told, “We need the vocal range of a potato.” In other words, non-existent. The lines are so repetitive that every time you level up, Achilles reminds you “I think I’m getting better” over thirty times. If he is the main character, then the other characters are worse. Overall, compared to the acting in this game, Keanu Reeves simply has an outstanding emotional range in his voice (no!).
As a result
Achilles: Legends Untold is a game that promises an interesting formula but delivers nothing. To do this, completely different systems from different genres are used, which overwrite each other. There’s no sense of progression or individuality, and there’s not much fun. What could be an interesting and exciting combination turns into some kind of gray mess when tested.
This could be a good combination with a little more planning and care. Unfortunately, all the benefits are lost, like another soul in the River Styx.
However, the game cannot be called a failure. It has decent elements, but it all comes down to the work of the designers, animators, and artists. The main gameplay is killed by the combat system, lack of balance and dull running around on errands.
Do you know what’s funny? A year and a half ago, the developers from the Dark Point Games studio removed the Russian voice acting, pathetically declaring that this was their “principled position.” But, lo and behold, soon the Russian language will return to the game, and it will become available in Russian Steam.