Unawake Demo Impression
As for the lofty promise of a DOOM and Diablo II hybrid, Unawake isn’t quite there yet in the current build, but there is undoubtedly a lot of potential here to make that goal a reality.
The October 2023 edition of the Steam Next Fest runs October 9-16, 2023, and RPGamer was able to get an early glance at Unawake. Developed by RealityArts Studio and published by Toplitz Productions, Unawake aims to impress with its fusion of gameplay mechanics from DOOM and Diablo II. According to the publisher, Unawake features frenetic, non-stop first-person melee combat with a traditional loot system and an epic story to boot. With the game still being in active development, some of these features were missing from the demo, but it did provide a glimpse into combat, the loot and skill systems, and a bit of the world players will explore at full release.
The opening cutscene showcases a world where the forces of heaven and hell are locked in a never-ending war. Angels take flight above a city clad in light before the camera plunges into the fiery abyss below. Players take on the role of the Unawake lord, a lofty title that one assumes is given proper context in the full release. The lord is currently tasked with taking out the demon Thraxas before they continue to torture innocents.
The world of Unawake is a bleak landscape of a destroyed civilization. Even peaceful-seeming locales are littered with ruined buildings and wrecked statues, while blood and ichor stains the path. The few human residents of the world tworld players meet appear shabby and disparaged. One of these is a pilgrim looking for their lost friend while avoiding the gaze of Thraxas. They task the player with locating their friend even though there’s a good chance they’re already dead. Based on the pilgrim’s rather sour tone during conversation, it’s likely a world no one wants to exist in but has no other choice.
The gameplay primarily revolves around first-person hacking and slashing. There is currently partial controller support, but the best experience for the demo is with a mouse and keyboard. The Unawake lord starts with a sword and shield, healing potions, and bombs to clear large crowds. Over time, that arsenal grows with charge attacks, weapon skills that differ based on the equipped weapon, various magic skills that work on cooldown, and the ability to dual-wield swords instead of the standard sword and shield setup.
Combat starts with one-on-one battles but quickly ramps up as the player explores the world, à la Diablo II, to having massive groups of devilish enemies to deal with all at once. As more enemies are introduced, group compositions can include higher-level enemies, which makes battles more challenging. Luckily, there are abilities like Chain Lightning that can quickly cull a group of lower-level enemies, which was thrilling.
The demo already has full support for Nvidia DLSS, which is working as expected, as well as plenty of tweaks to make it run passably on lower-end machines. Outside of some performance optimization issues, which is forgivable in an early build like this, the game performs at nearly 90 FPS on a 4070 RTX laptop with all settings maxed. As far as the soundtrack goes, it’s fitting and hard not to head bob to when the guitar riffs start kicking in. Hopefully the soundtrack continues to grow and evolve in this direction when time for full release.
Everything wasn’t roses with the demo. Navigating the vast areas of Unawake is a bit of a chore as there is no map, and most areas look similar. Respawning after dying may not have players facing the same direction that they were headed, requiring some unneeded finding of bearings. Much time was spent figuring out where to go and where had already been explored. Another minor annoyance is the loot system. While there is a lot of loot to obtain in the current build, there is no indication of what bodies have already been looted, likely causing players recheck slain enemies several times before moving on. A limited space for loot further impacts this. Once the inventory fills up, option is to ditch any extras, but all ditched loot is stored in a treasure chest that spawns right nearby the player but looks like every other loot chest. More time was wasted checking treasure chests and finding out it was ditched loot from earlier than finding new loot to equip.
Luckily, RealityArts Studio has plenty of development time to fix these issues and has already promised a complete map system, a better balance for encounters, shops, and lots more that should address the above. The development team is actively issuing updates as of the time of this writing, so so players of the public demo may find some of these addressed. As for the lofty promise of a DOOM and Diablo II hybrid, Unawake isn’t quite there yet in the current build, but there is undoubtedly a lot of potential here to make that goal a reality. Unawake’s Steam Next Fest demo is available October 9-16, 2023, with the game’s full release expected sometime in 2024.
Disclosure: This article is based on abased on an early access demo build of the game provided by the publisher.