Since the 2009 release of Demon’s Souls, there has been a considerable uptick in the number of hyper-difficult games that seek to test players mettle and their skill. From souls-like games to rogue-likes these games have challenged players but also given them a feeling of triumph, and indie studio Unwhale seeks to deliver the same feeling with Enoch Underground.
At first glance, Enoch Underground seems like it would play like a Diablo style point in click action RPG, with levels and loot aplenty, but quite the opposite in fact, despite its perspective it is a much more action-oriented combat style that has more in common with Dark Souls than Diablo. While the combat was alright, the perspective threw me off, and with no ability to look up or down the whole perspective choice and camera control felt clunky and unintuitive.
The core of the game is broken up into levels, large and linear maps with no checkpoints only shortcuts that make getting through them slightly more manageable. Gear in the game is limited and hard to find, and killing enemies only nets you some gold or potions occasionally, but just if it’s the right enemy type. While enemies are seen mainly as obstacles, fighting them feels almost unnecessary since there is no reward for doing so, and they all respawn if you die.
Unlike most games of this type where killing enemies nets you xp, souls, gear, or something to make your further trek a little easier, fighting enemies in Enoch feels tedious and repetitive, especially since the enemy variety is incredibly limited. Couple that with the fact there were times when enemy hits shouldn’t have hit me but did, or some of their hits killed me in one blow with seemingly no reason why plying Enoch felt more tedious and frustrating than it needed to.
My biggest issue with the game is the lack of any meaningful progression whatsoever. The rarity of gear, mostly nonexistent story, lack of a leveling system, and unclear stats on gear creates a system that lacks any feeling of progress, and instead feels like a slog from one battle to the next, only to do it again in the next level.
There is some joy to be had when getting past a particularly tricky encounter to find a shortcut, but that joy is dashed once you realize the next ten encounters will most likely feel like the last ten you just went through just to make a little progress.
I do understand what Unwhale wanted to achieve with this game, and to some extent they did, the game is challenging and admittedly there is a small amount of triumph to be felt when real progress is made. However, without any system in place to make the player want to keep going every new fight instills the feeling of déjà vu and thoughts of oh boy this again and it never truly reaches a point that is satisfying.
Overall Enoch Underground has definite promise and solid ideas but is held back by mediocrity in its systems and a distinct lack of some much-needed form of progression. As it stands Enoch is fun for a little bit, but it quickly becomes tiresome once you realize levels and enemies are mostly the same, and the game shows you all it has to offer early on, and it was just a genuine average experience. 5/10