10Tons Ltd’s Undead Horde is the kind of game that you see on the storefront and just dismiss as yet another standard hack and slash dungeon crawler with RPG elements. After all, this is how it’s presented. Its such a shame because, while it is all of those things, it has a core mechanic that is wholly unique and a lot of fun to play.
Like a cross between Overlord and the gothic humour of Medievil, Undead Horde puts you in the shoes of the Necromancer. Finally unleashed from his prison by a errant chicken peck, your task is to cover the world in darkness in revenge.
While a powerful being, able to wield weapons and magic, the armies of this world are far too many so you need to get your own. How? By raising the dead. Yes, the main gameplay mechanic of Undead Horde sees you casting a spell to bring those who have died back to undead status so they can fight for you. This includes enemies that have literally just fallen at your feet.
It is a clever and constantly fun thing to do, especially as you level up and increase your abilities. Not just making the Necromancer more powerful but allowing your army to grow in size and strength too.
Wipe out villages, towns and cities, spread the darkness, bring the dead back and defeat those who trapped the Necromancer before. A simple task, made more complex by the dungeon crawler aspects and heavy requirement on levelling up and progression.
At the start, you’ll not have much in the way of an army to summon. Chickens, farmers and peasants… useful as undead shields but not likely to help you consume the world. As you progress, more and more difficult enemies present themselves, allowing your army to become more powerful.
Kill enough of a certain type of unit and you will be able to spawn that specific type in your crypt, basically, the game’s main hub. It’s here that you can see the progress of what units you can command, unleash them for battle as well as buy new weapons, equipment and more.
Admittedly, the buying of weapons, while a nice touch, isn’t actually needed as the game is super generous with loot. Chances are, you’ll be finding plenty of hardy weapons on the battlefield and selling way more than you buy.
With an army to command, the Necromancer shouldn’t need weapons but Undead Horde makes so you have to get involved in the ritual slaughter of the lands. Your armies can die, even when undead and it’s up to you to buff them up using magic and help out where needed. This becomes even more important when you start to hit levels that include buildings that generate enemies infinitely unless destroyed.
Dying comes easy and the game has a few difficulty spikes but the only penalty is the resetting of your progress on that specific level. You’ll respawn in your crypt and can immediately get back into the fray.
Early on, it doesn’t feel like there is much in the way of strategy but later, you have to start playing it smart. Picking when to send your army in to battle, trying to lure groups away and being ready to resurrect the recently deceased so you can keep the battle raging on. It’s these big battles that are often the most fun to take part in.
There’s a ton of levels to get through, a bevy of secret loot to uncover and even the story, while basic, is fun to experience. Throw in the RPG elements, simple but pleasing visuals, esoteric music and a New Game+, and we have a game that really delivers more than it promises.
Undead Horde (Xbox Series X)
The Final Score - 7.5/10