HIGH The meta-progress is a welcome addition

LOW The gameplay loop seems lessened

WTF An army of undead chickens is very playable

The Finnish team 10tons Ltd. entered the game scene with Crimsonland. It was a simple title, but the twin-stick controls were so tight it was clear that they had something special. Since the mid-2000s they’ve built a roster of works built on those solid foundations. Later, in 2018, 10tons delved into real-time strategy with Undead Horde. This was top-down strategy using twin-stick controls to steer a horde of undead to fight their enemies.

Undead Horde was addictive, and had wonderful forward momentum created by the fact that anything killed could then be resurrected to join the player’s army — anything from simple footman all the way up to end-level bosses. Now in 2023, Undead Horde 2: Necropolis is here, and brings with it changes that seem to have come at a cost.

The Necromancer from the first game is is back and the gameplay, at its core, is the same. The art style is also in line with its predecessor and the controls are similar – point the cursor to direct the horde and watch them engage in combat. The Necromancer itself can also cast spells and perform melee attacks. There’s a large map with multiple biomes, each with their own challenges and tricks, but new to Undead Horde 2 is a large hub world.

As levels are completed and items found, the hub grows in population. This also allows the player to invest any money they pick up during combat into upgrading their units and crafting new trinkets. This economy is a compelling reason to go back and revisit old levels — clearing them out helps power up the player, which then in turn expands the hub world even more. To tie into this, instead of resurrecting enemies, the Necromancer uses the dead bodies of fallen enemies as a pool of resources to bring back prescribed units.

All of the pieces are in place for a more rounded and polished experience, but the problem is that no longer being able to pick up fallen units and resurrect them on the fly robs it of both momentum and magic.

For example, in the original game, when a tough fight against a fierce enemy was over and my army was demolished, the upside was that I would bring that now-defeated enemy into my team to make up for the losses. In Undead Horde 2, that one boss enemy is now reduced to becoming a resource that I spend to get one or two of my regular troops back . This means sitting through a loading screen, going back to the hub, rebuilding the team and then heading back into battle as there are seldom enough dead on the battlefield to bring back a full cohort. The joy of toppling a tough foe and rolling ahead is now replaced by fewer surprises, pauses in the action and a return to base.

This shift ends up hamstringing Undead Horde 2’s flow — as much as I enjoyed it in the beginning, it soon began to feel like a chore and I’m sad to say that Undead Horde 2 is one of 10tons Ltd.’s few stumbles — it’s still addictive and sports their trademarked solid controls, but it’s sorely missing the infectious charm of their previous installment.

Rating: 6 out of 10

Disclosures: This game is developed by 10tons Ltd. and published by 10tons Ltd. It is currently available on XBO, XBX/S, PS4/PS5, Switch, PC and Mac.This copy of the game was obtained via publisher and reviewed on the XBX. Approximately 12 hours of play were devoted to the single-player mode, and the game was not completed. There are no multiplayer modes.

Parents: According to the ESRB, this game is rated T and contains Violence and Blood. The rating seems a little high to me as the violence is cartoonish and everything feels very silly. Very young children might find the animal murder upsetting.

Colorblind Modes: Colorblind modes are present.   

Deaf & Hard of Hearing Gamers: This game offers subtitles. The subtitles cannot be altered and/or resized. In my view, the title appears to be fully playable and accessible without sound.

Remappable Controls: Yes, this game offers fully remappable controls.

AJ Small
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