Undecember Hands-On: First Impressions of LINE Games's Hack-and-Slash RPG
It has been well over a year since the first Undecember trailer set fire to the internet - or at least the little corner of the internet that deals with cross-platform mobile and PC games.
Following its global launch earlier this month, we've finally had the chance to see LINE Games's hotly anticipated hack-and-slash RPG up close, in all its graphically sumptuous glory.
Here's what we took away from the first couple of hours.
For one thing, Undecember is just as pretty as the trailers suggested. We played the PC version, and it really pops on a monitor, with detailed 3D backdrops, crisp lighting, and lifelike characters.
We can only assume the game looks even better on a mobile touchscreen.
On that note, mobile appears to be Undecember's happy place. Unlike most action-RPGs on PC, movement is handled with the mouse cursor rather than the W, A, S, and D keys. This feels a lot like poking a touchscreen.
The good news is that it doesn't take anything away from the hack-and-slash gameplay. You attack by pressing Right Mouse, and you unleash any skills you currently have equipped with Q, W, E, and R. It's a simple interface that gives you all the control you need.
And if you can't get on with keyboard and mouse or touchscreen you're free to use a physical controller for both the mobile and PC versions.
Undecember has attracted a lot of attention with its looks. But there's plenty of interesting stuff going on under the surface, too, including an innovative classless growth system.
This allows you to mold your own character from scratch, rather than being bound by class restrictions.
To press the point home, Undecember equips you with both a sword and a bow very early in the campaign. You can't equip both at once, but you can choose either one as your main weapon, and swap between them at will, as long as you're not actively fighting.
Likewise, you're free to use every skill that you acquire, although there are certain skills that only work with certain weapons. Rapid Shot, for example, isn't much use when you're holding a sword.
Undecember begins with a prologue stage that gives you a glimpse of the deadly power you'll eventually obtain.
Then, set years later, there's a visually spectacular ride on the back of a giant Sand Walker, a creature so mind-bogglingly huge that it carries a building-sized platform on its back.
These stages introduce you to the basics of combat and the beginnings of the story. They're followed by your arrival in Malo Front, a wild west-style village overlooking a vast ravine and seemingly held together by crude wooden scaffolding.
Malo Front is Undecember's main hub. It's where you visit the Blacksmith and the Peddlar. It's where you store your items, visit the Recruitment Board, and consult with the Mystic. It's where you interact with fellow players and NPCs.
And it's the place you set off from whenever you need to do some hacking and slashing. Starting with the Yellow Wastelands, you'll venture ever farther into Undecember's vast map, cutting down wolves, spiders, dragons, bandits, and loot-filled boss characters.
We've already mentioned Undecember's classless growth system, but it goes further than just letting you use all of the weapons and skills.
There's also a neat Zodiac system, which sees you assigning Trait Points to your character's Intelligence, Dexterity, and Strength. This lets you fashion your ccharacter around your own personal preferences.
The Skill Rune system deserves a mention, too. To use a Skill Rune you have to place it in a hex grid, and if you manage to match the color on one of the rune's sides with a Link Rune, you earn a little modification.
It's possible to link more than one Skill Rune to a single Link Rune, and you can connect each Skill Rune with multiple Link Runes, giving you scope to maximize the potential of the runes in your inventory by arranging them cleverly.
Undecember also celebrates Halloween from October 26th until November 23rd. This would be a great time to jump into the world of Undecember as there will be some valuable loot given out. More information can be found on the official Discord or Website.
All of these impressive features suggest that Undecember is more than just a pretty action-RPG. But is it a good one?
Free-to-play RPGs live or die by the fairness of their F2P economies, and we haven't seen enough of Undecember to know whether it stays fun or gets bogged down.
But we can say that the first couple of hours are pretty impressive. Here is the game on the App Store and Play Store.