One subgenre of games which shows no sign of stopping is Souls-like action adventures with an emphasis on gruelling combat and challenging enemies. The now-classic Dark Souls by FromSoftware has become the landmark achievement that many developers take inspiration from, and 2023 has seen its fair share of competitors, from the dark retelling of Pinocchio Lies of P to the return of Lords of the Fallen and the shoot ’em-up sequel Remnant II. Another entry in this crowded, tired genre is Achilles: Legends Untold, by Dark Point Games.
A major characteristic that differentiates it from similar titles is its setting. Ancient Greece is a historical era that is seldom explored in gaming (outside of the original series of God of War and mid-budget titles like Rise of the Argonauts and Titan Quest), so playing a Greek hero with a vulnerable heel is quite refreshing amidst all the dark fantasies. It is a bit of a shame that environments (which directly relate to the game’s structure) lack the detail and magic to fully transport players into the world of the Iliad.
While Achilles: Legends Untold is sold as a Souls-like, with the expected loss of experience at each death and plenty of trial and error that are synonymous with the subgenre, its DNA has more in common with Metrodivanias like Symphony of the Night than with Bloodborne. Its isometric camera perspective, simple graphics, and sprawling interconnected map encourage backtracking in a way that is reminiscent of Diablo II, with new skills that open up previously locked areas.
While on paper the game has all the makings of a hit, there are a couple of key flaws in its design that keep it from achieving a full recommendation. Its combat is incredibly repetitive, a tired loop of dodging and hitting enemies once or twice that never changes from beginning to end. The enemy’s designs and patterns may differ, but at its core, the only way to survive combat is the same strategy. Unlocking counter-attacks and new fighting skills does not vary the gameplay in any way. The art direction is also rather lacklustre: the world of Achilles is empty, barren, and populated exclusively with enemies among anonymous forests and ruins.
Despite featuring key figures from Homer’s Ilyad and other creatures and gods of Greek mythos, Achilles: Untold Legends never reaches its full potential, delivering a serviceable action game that is endearing for a couple of hours but quickly loses momentum. Fans of top-down adventures will likely get something out of the non-linear exploration, but even in its full release the title still feels in early access, needing more time to bring to life Ancient Greece and tales of old. A lukewarm recommendation, worth trying out on a sale.
Copy supplied by publisher.