HomeReviewsGame ReviewsLovecraft's Untold Stories 2 review: a roguelike permeated with horror

Lovecraft’s Untold Stories 2 review: a roguelike permeated with horror

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Lovecraft’s Untold stories 2 differs from the first chapter in almost every point of view for good and, above all, for evil.

Lovecraft's Untold Stories 2 <a class=review: a roguelike permeated with horror">

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Three years ago LLC Blini Games managed to amaze lovers of HP Lovecraft stories with a love letter to his works, Lovecraft’s Untold Stories. Exceeding the expectations of the public, the independent team from St. Petersburg created an intriguing horror roguelite, with a design that was anything but banal and, ultimately, successful. Fans have been waiting patiently for the second chapter until its announcement in August 2021, with an Early Access phase planned for October of the same year and important promises for the playful package, including co-op mode for up to four players.

Unfortunately, the developers have postponed the launch on Steam first to May 2022 and then to September, following the unfortunate trend of the gaming industry that we have witnessed in recent years. Those who hoped to find themselves in front of a complete sequel, clean and with the expected innovations, however, will have to change their mind.

A more distinctive artistic direction

Since the opening of the game there is a radical aesthetic transformation compared to the chapter launched in 2019: Lovecraft’s Untold Stories 2 abandons pixel art, preferring a artistic direction taken from comic books, producing as a whole what appears to all intents and purposes an interactive comic with game sections interspersed with a paneled narrative. These are mostly displayed one at a time, often offering us two or more choices that change the course of the story, the same panels shown and define the evolution of the character.

We cannot but admit that, despite the confusing details of some of the designs proposed on screen, they are mostly of high quality and contribute to make the settings much more characteristic. From hospital beds to city streets, passing through the character we selected and hostile creatures, the detachment from the design of the first Lovecraftian project by Blini Games is evident and convincing. The user interface is also a success on the artistic front, although it needs more clarity: the various elements of the HUD are well made and visible, from the quickly selectable objects to the player’s objective, except on the left side where special abilities and conditions such as poisoning, dizziness and bleeding may be more recognizable. Compared to the first chapter, in this case, there is a slight step backwards. The adoption of the isometric view involves instead some problems affecting the gameplay: for example, the remains of humans and of the abominations we have killed often overlook chests or cabinets with which one should interact to obtain loot, making their selection more difficult; or, they hide explosive barrels which, once unknowingly hit, could force us to restart the scenario from the last checkpoint.

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We hope, therefore, in an intervention by the developers to improve the visibility of the props in these more specific contexts. On the contrary, in the most scenic moments and moments of pause from fighting, the isometric view has a key role in showing urban landscapes and houses with rustic architecturethe realization of which is surprising when you consider the past of Lovecraft’s Untold Stories.

Permeated with mystery and horror

Exploring the Providence writer’s imagery was fascinating in the title three years ago, but is the same true of Lovecraft’s Untold Stories 2? Unfortunately not, and the reasons are many. The narration begins with each start of the game, with a considerable duration and full of panels in which the premises of the second chapter are illustrated, taking up the story of the previous one, but fails to guide the player with the same emphasis as the progenitor.

Often one feels exaggeratedly lost and at the mercy of the course of the storywithout the possibility of deepening through the backstories and written notes that instead enriched the levels Lovecraft’s Untold Stories

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The characters are six in all, three of which are unpublished, but this time they are presented without a name, with an almost anonymous design and in the absence of the dubbing, present instead in a very limited number of scenes of the original game. All this could be justified by the desire to confuse and then surprise the player with the passing of the hours, yet the concrete effect is pure and simple bewilderment and poor immersion, unless you have played Lovecraft’s Untold Stories; only in the latter case can Untold Stories 2 be approached with a different and more positive gaze.

The horror that permeates every single place that can be visited is, however, dominated by other key issues concerning the combat system, in our opinion the worst piece of Untold Stories 2: without any tutorial you have to rely on intuition – or the experience accumulated with Lovecraft’s Untold Stories – to learn the game mechanics and master the dangerous challenges in the various procedurally generated zones. In other words, the product does not reach out to newbies at all.

Beyond this obstacle, however, the essential component of the action roguelike is the victim of a poor balance and is anything but engaging: the movement of our characters is rather slow (except in the case of the Witch, perhaps excessively fast) and quickly becomes It’s frustrating to see swarms of enemies assaulting us with no escape options other than dash and rollii, especially if you’re a fan of the Detective and his shotgun.

Effects like poisoning and bleeding last much longer than Lovecraft’s Untold Stories, and the scarcity of first aid kits and healing items makes survival difficult. It is possible – or rather, a duty – to craft them after having collected all the necessary loot, an activity that will require a considerable amount of time. The mechanics of health, a source of concern for all aficionados of the first title, it seems instead absent or not very visible: compared to the clear indicator previously present, Untold Stories 2 does not provide any element in the HUD useful for understanding our psychological state. Sometimes you can take advantage of the procedurally generated environment to get around enemies, as their movements are not always logical: even at the right distance and with rifles, the henchmen present on the city streets could continue to reposition themselves without hitting a single one. time. To compensate for these gaps there are zombies and tentacles, which with their resistance and area attacks are particularly difficult to deal with with the predefined weapons. Among the crates and furniture you can find more advanced clothing and armaments, essential to continue in history, yet not even these are able to overcome the big problem of the overall balancewhich developers should take action as soon as possible.

Bugs and deficiencies compromise the experience

They think about making the bite more bitter bugs and softlocks that penalize playability Lovecraft’s Untold Stories 2: in certain circumstances we had to restart the game to unlock doors which, for unknown reasons, remained closed even after finding and using the related key. Changing characters before closing the product, and then restarting it, even compromised our game and forced us to start all over again. However, these are just some of the serious problems that highlight the less than optimal state of the title at the moment.

The straw that breaks the camel’s back, especially for those who have followed the project since the announcement, is the removal of the announced support for co-op multiplayer which could have made the whole experience more fun. Most likely a further postponement aimed at smoothing out the aesthetic imperfections of the second episode, improving the combat system and developing a cooperative mode for up to four players, would have risked waning the interest of users and raised concerns among fans, which however now they declare themselves reasonably disappointed and dissatisfied with the work done by Blini Games.

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