If you want evidence of how far the mobile gaming platform has come in the last 15 years, you only need to look at Undecember.
This cross-platform ARPG, developed for PC, Android, and iOS by Needs Games, bears all the hallmarks of a mobile game blown up for the big screen, from the controls to the giveaway “touch the screen” messages that pop up from time to time.
But in terms of production values it’s more than a match for most PC hack-and-slash RPGs. In fact, it looks incredible.
Undecember’s extraordinary presentation earned it a huge amount of buzz when publisher LINE Games first teased the game last year.
Now it’s out, and we’ve spent an hour or two familiarizing ourselves with its combat, gameplay, and systems.
If you’ve ever played a Diablo-style game, you’ll be right at home with Undecember’s core gameplay. You roam around the world, reducing swarms of goons and monsters to dust with a spectacular array of weapons and skills.
The game’s mobile essence shows itself here, too. Rather than moving around with WASD, you click on the map to tell your warrior where to move. It’s like tapping on a touchscreen, but with your mouse cursor instead of your finger.
Your main attack is bound to the right mouse button, while your various skills are bound to Q, W, E, and R.
It works well, but if you don’t like the sound of this interface you can use a controller instead.
Either way, the action is a very familiar process of cutting down enemies, picking up loot, and then cutting down more enemies.
Undecember has a much-vaunted classless growth system, which means you’re not bound by the attributes of a single class. You’ll need to play it for a lot longer than we have to feel the full effects of this innovation, but right from the get-go the benefits are clear.
Within minutes you’ve got a sword and a bow, and you can choose which to equip as your main weapon. You can swap them in and out whenever you feel like it and combine them with different skills to create the best possible loadout.
In terms of the main campaign, after a couple of action-packed stages you arrive at the Malo Front, a clifftop village containing everything from the Blacksmith to the Mailbox.
There’s a Mystic, a Peddlar, a Recruitment Board, a Storage chest, multiple exits to different parts of the world, loitering player avatars, and NPCs muttering about Wasteland Bandits, Sand Walkers, Dimps, and all the other hazards awaiting you beyond the front.
The Malo Front is basically a living menu screen. Here you can join a clan, upgrade your gear, buy and sell goods, collect rewards, accept quests, and so on.
Like many MMORPGs, Undecember boasts a Pet system. This lets you summon a number of different animal companions to follow you around. Their purpose is to automatically collect loot on your behalf and to disassemble and sell items.
The starting pet is a dumpy little creature called Toduba. He barrels along behind you, looking incongruously indifferent towards all the spiders and carnage.
While Pets aren’t unusual in RPGs, the fact that these ones collect loot for you is a boon.
Undecember has other innovations besides. They include a clever Zodiac character growth system that lets you assign Trait Points across a number of different characteristics, such as Strength, Dexterity, and Intelligence.
The Rune system, meanwhile, features hexagonal runes with color-coded sides. Using colored Link Runes, you can modify multiple Skill Runes at once. Working out their placement on the grid is like a little puzzle game in itself.
Undecember also celebrates Halloween from October 26th until November 17th. 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 in all, Undecember has a number of unique features, and some of the best presentation we’ve ever seen in a cross-platform RPG.
Whether it lives up to all this promise will only become clear over a few days of gameplay.
But Undecember creates a decent first impression.