No Rest For The Wicked: Early Access Preview – Isometric Souls With Potential

No Rest For The Wicked: Early Access Preview - Isometric Souls With Potential

No Rest For The Wicked popped up on my radar about a month prior to the release and I’ve been slowly hyping myself up for it ever since. As an Action RPG fan, the game looked like it had a “meatier” take on the genre which feels like a breath of fresh air. With elements of Dark Souls / Monster Hunter combat mixed with a painstakingly crafted world to explore, unique boss mechanics to die to, and the high level of detail on display, it all created this cohesive experience that I couldn’t wait to dive into.

no rest

The character customisation is fairly minimal, but it does the job well enough to create a basic character model with either a masculine or feminine body type. All of this appears to be cosmetic as well so customise until your heart’s content. After creating a character and being introduced to the world via a fully voiced cutscene informing the player of the instability of the kingdom and their place in it, I was dumped onto a ship and it was time to complete the tutorial area.

The first thing I noticed was the darker “living painting” aesthetic which is a visual style you don’t see done well too often. But this game knocks it out of the park by adding an extra layer of dark grittiness to the entire experience which was delightful to see it match the game’s level design so well. Throughout my first few hours with the game, every new element of the world was interesting to explore and the aesthetic played a big part in making every twist and turn much more interesting.

Once your ship crashes and you’re dumped on a beach Path of Exile style, it’s up to you to decide where you go. The game doesn’t hold your hand here and instead gives you the freedom to explore and encounter whatever beastie that gets in your way. There’s no guidance on possible builds to chase, or what weapons/gear you’ll encounter along the way. Instead, the game lets you roam free and figure it out one death at a time like a typical Souls-like, but from an isometric point of view.

no rest
no rest

This can take a little bit of getting used to when you’re in a Souls-like game. There’s so much to explore and I wanted to search around every nook and cranny for the next secret item or hidden ambush. After the first few areas, it started to grow on me but I still tried to move the camera when I wanted to look at something in the middle distance. It’s workable for the gameplay and rarely makes me feel restricted when I’m fighting enemies until I get into the tighter areas like the sewers.

The combat of No Rest For The Wicked is one of the central pillars of the game and it feels like there’s some solid weight behind each attack from the word go. The animations compliment this well and roll seamlessly together as you continue your combo, or dodge those of your enemies. Everything from managing stamina levels and encumbrance to the expanded loot table with item rarities, sneaky backstabs, and various Rune abilities are on offer here which give you plenty of freedom to mix and match different styles and explore.

One other major positive to note is just how traversable the map and its areas are. While the movement of the character is a little janky at times, there are so many little side roads or different avenues to explore along the way and it feels like you could always find something new. Some areas loop back on themselves, some go up and give you a wide view of what to explore next, and others will take you deep below the surface. Usually, if there’s a point of interest that you spot from a high tower, there’s a good chance you can make your way over there in the game. 

no rest

Dotted around the various areas are nodes called Cerim Whispers. Here you can rest and record your progress and if death should find you, you’ll be respawned at your last Whisper with the only penalty being your equipment suffering a durability loss. The Whispers allow you to save your progress but interestingly, they don’t heal you. So don’t think you’ll be able to run and hide at your nearest “bonfire” unless you have healing items already on your person.

Luckily, No Rest For The Wicked is supporting you by allowing you to become a master chef when you’re not killing baddies. There are plenty of recipes that you’ll be able to find during your campaign, with a slew of ingredients that you’ll collect along your travels. These dishes will heal you and possibly grant special effects.

When you die and return to a Whisper, or when you cook up tasty healing items, the enemies that you’ve killed previously don’t respawn. This was something I didn’t notice at first and it was a refreshing perspective to take when I didn’t have to slog through the same packs of enemies again and again to get to the area boss. It really does feel like a balanced experience as the enemies are varied, hit hard, and are difficult enough to pose enough of a challenge the first time through.

no rest
no rest

The enemies are this interesting mix of Humanoid and Beast which comes out in all forms. From normal bandits types to Birdmen, treants, and various other infected monstrosities, there’s a variety of enemies to fight during your adventures. To compliment this, each enemy has a distinct move set which you get to learn and adapt your play style to.

One issue I did find was with the auto-locking of the enemies at times. When your main strategy is to get in, deal damage, and get out, it’s frustrating for your enemy to snap a 180 rotation as it’s mid-way through its big slam attack and send you to the shadow realm. This and sometimes I got myself killed due to the janky movement making me roll off a cliff a couple of times. Apart from that, the gameplay flows very well from one sequence to another and everything that I explored, made me interested to explore more.

After going through the process of checking every nook and cranny of the first area that I could find, it was time for the first Boss fight and it turned out to be a lot of fun! It was like a combination of all the previous monsters of the area, combined into one tangled mass of flesh. After eventually beating this monstrosity, the doors of the main town of Sacrament opened up to me, and it was a good place to stop before I got lost in another Souls-like world.

no rest

No Rest For The Wicked has a solid foundation of mechanics and a painstakingly crafted world to explore. The combat mechanics are solid with only the hitboxes needing a little bit of work, and there’s plenty to enjoy with the game that’s currently on offer. I’m keen to explore more of the world and meet all its interesting inhabitants. There’s a story under all of this which I’ve only scratched the surface of, and much like this game’s Early Access development, I’m very interested to see what twists and turns this game takes in the near future.

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