Living as a forgotten survivor wandering eerie catacombs doesn’t exactly sound like a walk in the park. Enoch: Underground doesn’t quite roll out the red carpet either. If it did, Unwhale Studio would make sure it’s tattered and stained with blood. Cryptic, yet visually appealing, environments splattered with dismembered bodies and the occasional healing potion encompasses the challenge endured frequently in this action RPG. Grip that mighty sword tight, but watch where you’re swinging. Precision will make you or break you.
The Art of Combat
Enoch: Underground commences with a solitary soul referred to as the Awakened left to fend for himself. The atmosphere immediately radiates a perplexing vibe, but little readable anecdotes generously provide information pertaining to the Awakened’s current state. Blatant red glyphs, which I had assumed were checkpoints, additionally paint the floors of the catacombs. Fun fact: they are nothing of the sort, but rather offer spooky warning messages or helpful tips. So far, guiding the Awakened was elementary and puzzle pieces fell into the palm of my hand.
The upper left hand corner of the screen showcases current objectives. The first level appears to play as a tutorial, providing instructions on how to break barriers to reveal hidden areas or occasional loot. Early on once the Awakened fashions his first weapon, Enoch: Underground furnishes a chamber with practice dummies to rehearse the art of hack’n’slash. Unfortunately, locking onto a target isn’t a matter of choice. Vigorously moving the mouse to alter the direction of the Awakened so he actually hit the object became a learning curve.
A Swing and a Miss
The unveiling of the first enemy, which resembled a nude demonic zombie, put my combat skills to the test. Left-clicking rendered a regular attack, while right-clicking generated a more powerful swing. Unfortunately, stamina plays a substantial part in the Awakened’s journey. Swinging a giant melee weapon in a continuous motion isn’t optional. Stepping away from combat to regain endurance proved to be beneficial.
As a bead of sweat trickled down my forehead, I found myself swinging my axe at the air as the creature clawed me with force. A potion and stroke of luck later, the first enemy fell in defeat. What can I say? I was feeling pretty good.
Enoch: Underground’s challenge not only derives from combat, but also comes in the form of deadly traps. Giant suspending axes are only some of the nuisances conveniently guarding paths to key areas. Patience comes into play when determining the precise time to guide the Awakened onward. Regrettably, traps are usually unavoidable. Sometimes, so is death.
The Light at the End of the Tunnel
As previously mentioned, my heart was originally set on red glyphs representing a checkpoint in a level. To my utmost surprise and disappointment, they were not. Death consumed the Awakened more than I’m proud to admit, thus sending him back to the very beginning of the stage. On the bright side, dying numerous times better prepared me for what was to come and improved my awful aiming abilities. Well, for the most part.
Obliterating barrels, wooden crates, and pallets sometimes exposed radical loot. Therefore, twirling the magical weapon of destruction at destroyable objects typically worked out in my favor. Hording healing potions and repetitively utilizing the hotkeys became second nature, for possible death lurked around every corner. Can you blame me? At one point, a bloke equipped with full armor and a red cape wielding a shield and sword tumbled at me in a gloriously deadly manner. I didn’t stand a chance.
So Far, So Good
Adventuring through the Early Access stages of Enoch: Underground resulted in an enjoyable, yet demanding, experience. The appealing surroundings correlate beautifully with the morbid atmosphere the Awakened saunters through and the varied enemies spice up the already challenging gameplay. Though I may have muttered a few curse words under my breath as “YOU ARE DEAD” repeatedly pestered my screen, I always took a deep breath and tried again.