In Death: Unchained is a Rogue-Like archery game made exclusively for the Oculus Quest. The game has also recently received an update which utilises the increased capabilities of the newer Oculus Quest 2 headset boasting better graphical performance. With procedurally generated levels and tough enemies to take on, you’ll be dying over and over in a quest to save the afterlife.
First things first, In Death: Unchained is brutally punishing. It takes a while to get the hang of, there is a decent enough tutorial but this safe environment can’t possibly prepare you for the stresses of the real game world. You only have one life and death means restarting from the beginning. There are a few save points in each level and you’ll keep any upgrades you may have earned but be warned, you will be getting killed, a lot.
There are three different levels to complete, Purgatory, Paradise Lost and Abyss. Each level features its own distinct style, enemies and boss battle. Your reward for completing each level? You get to run them again only it’s made harder. This rising difficulty appears endless and you’re brain will probably give up before the game does.
There are lots of options with regards to the controls. There is a sitting and standing setting but unless you have no option but to sit I would recommend the standing option as this offers more immersion. Movement is either via teleportation, you shoot an arrow where you want to zip to, or there is an option for free roam. I prefer the free roam for the most part as it made me feel more in control but I do wish you could move a bit faster in free roam.
Firing your bow requires you to carry out the required arm movements and makes the game really fun. As the Quest 2 has no external sensors you will have to play around a fair bit to ensure your aiming technique is consistent. I experimented with pulling the bowstring back as far as possible to the side of my head and found that the Quest 2 would sometimes lose track of the controller. It’s not game-breaking but you will need to fiddle about a bit to get things flowing naturally. You will also be able to unlock a crossbow as you progress which is fired as you would do a gun thus removing the issues above.
Visually the game looks nice if not somewhat repetitive. I found it very easy to get lost, especially after coming back to a saved game the day after, but it doesn’t take too long to get back on track.
Finally a word of warning. Given that there are no cables on the Quest 2 you will most likely find yourself moving around a lot whilst playing. You can swat arrows out of the air with your shield, duck behind barriers and I would also find myself dodging bodily to avoid incoming fire. Make sure your guardian zone is set up correctly to avoid falling over your own sofa as I did!
Overall In Death: Unchained is one of the better games I’ve played on the Oculus Quest 2 so far. I love the fact that it’s hard and punishing and find myself wanting to have just one more try before I hang up my bow for the day. One try inevitably ends up being ten or so.
In Death: Unchained was reviewed using a digital code provided by the publisher.
Publisher: Superbright Developer: Superbright Release Date: 23rd July 2020 Reviewed On: Oculus Quest 2