App Reviewed on: iPad Pro
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I remember enjoying playing as a necromancer in Diablo II back in the day. Undead Horde is a game that tries to recapture this fun of summoning an army of corpses to fight on your behalf as you quest across the land. Unfortunately though, it doesn’t quite clear the bar established by Blizzard almost 20 years ago, making it a bit of a disappointment.
Undead Horde is a fairly straightforward action role-playing game (rpg) where you play as a necromancer. With your power over the dead, you can summon all manner of undead creatures to aid you in battle, including enemies you just recently slayed. This ability—to create an manage an army of zombies—is core to the experience of Undead Horde.
This is to say that quests in Undead Horde are built around sending in dozens of undead minions to help you take out defense towers, garrisons of troops, or ultra-powerful bosses. You’re guided to these encounters by way of quests, which are mostly doled out by skeletons hanging out in cages in the various locales you visit in the game. There is a story here, but most of the narrative boils down to going somewhere and killing stuff because you’re a necromancer and that’s what necromancers do, I guess.
Fighting successfully in Undead Horde doesn’t just involve sending your troops in and hoping for the best. Your necromancer is also a powerful and necessary agent of destruction, equipped with spells and equipment that can do everything from wreak havoc on enemies to support the strength and sustainability of your horde.
Your abilities in Undead Horde change as you find and equip new gear, which is something that happens constantly. Gear shoots out of most enemies, and—while most of it is only worth selling—you can try to create a particular loadout for your necromancer that works for your play style. To further customize your experience, Undead Horde also has a leveling up system that allows you to choose from three different stat boosts that can gear your play toward different kinds play, like horde management or dealing direct damage to enemies.
Dying for more
The ideas behind all of the systems in Undead Horde are sound and good. I like the idea of building a custom necromancer who can summon undead bears that I can cast vampirism on and having that be “my thing,” but actually playing this out in the game doesn’t exactly feel viable or natural.
I’m not sure if this is because the customized path I’ve chosen isn’t one the game expects players to go down, or if Undead Horde is just kind of flat and repetitive despite what its systems suggest. In either case, I find myself completing missions by rushing to kill garrisons one at a time before teleporting back home to summon more creatures and repeating that until everything is dead. I do this both because it’s effective, but also because it seems like the only viable way to get anything done consistently in the game.
The bottom line
It’s never good when a game gives you a bunch of tools, but then doesn’t really provide situations where you can actually be creative in how you use them. This is the core problem with Undead Horde, and it makes for a pretty rote experience.