Iratus: Lord of the Dead review

Iratus: Lord of the Dead appeared in Steam’s «early access» last summer. And now, nine months later, the full release of the game took place. The creation of the russian studio Unfrozen came out even earlier than planned, which is quite unexpected, because recently postponements for a month or two ahead have become commonplace. But, apparently, the developers thought that they brought  to mind. Now, when you can go through the entire dungeon, it’s time to assess how much the game has changed during its stay in «early access» and whether it is worth spending dozens of hours in it.

The player in the role of necromancer Iratus, commander of undead units, needs to get out of the underground depths to the outside, to freedom. To do this, he will have to pass several floors-levels. In early access, there were three, and in the release version, catacombs and a cathedral were added to the mines, dwarf tunnels and mercenary barracks.

The map of each floor is randomly generated and has quite a lot of crossroad, where you can see in advance both enemies and random events, as well as chests with artifacts and other utilities. To level up, killing all the enemies on the level and collecting all the treasures, unfortunately, will not work: you can only move forward on the map.

In Iratus: Lord of the Dead we have two main activities-setting up the cemetery where our Lord necromancer lives, and cleaning rooms on the way to conquer the world. The cemetery gives various bonuses such as additional materials for crafting units, treatment, and experience boosters.

You can (or rather, you even need to) create your minions manually: after all, our hero is a powerful necromancer. For this purpose, fragments found on battlefields are suitable: bones, skulls, weapons, ashes, ectoplasm, pieces of flesh and so on. We are given a choice of 18 types of undead of all stripes. There are both familiar monsters like a skeleton, a Banshee and a vampire, and much more exotic specimens: for example, a masked Lost Soul that does not disdain to strengthen opponents and hit their own.

Ready-made creatures can be safely arranged in groups of four and sent to fight. At the same time, do not forget about caution, because in the battle, the minion dies once and for all (some items give a chance of rebirth, but I would not seriously count on them). The game is saved automatically in one slot for each passage, so when resources and troops run out, the path through the dungeon will have to start again.

The turn-based combat system of Iratus: Lord of the Dead will immediately seem familiar to everyone who has played in Darkest Dungeon – each of the unit’s abilities is tied to the position on which it stands. You can directly attack the enemy’s health or mind. The loss of the latter can cause psychosis, escape from battle, or even death from heart failure. Well, or, on the contrary, inspiration – then the enemy will experience a surge of strength from fear.

All six abilities of the units are open at once – in this regard, you do not experiment much, and all creativity begins during the assembly of the group. There are a lot of options for combinations of minions. Choosing your ideal formula and finally making sure that it works is an incredible pleasure. In order for all the cards to add up, it is important to understand how the minions and their skills will be combined with each other. Team work can be shown, for example, by the Bride of Iratus, who stands in a position and automatically shoots a bow at all of the enemy, and the Bounty Hunter, who knows how to attract opponents to the first position with his hook.

Undead leveling has also changed: it no longer depends on randomly falling pieces that contain improvements to certain parameters of the minion. Now after receiving a new level, the unit is given several points that can be independently scattered by characteristics: someone to strengthen the physical attack, someone-evasion and critical strike, and so on. The only thing is that the distribution of points can not be canceled, and it is counted immediately, without a confirmation button.

In early access, minions could only be evolved to the seventh level, but now, according to the developers, the maximum level is not limited. Each minion still has two slots for special items, but now these items are much more, plus there are unique items for each type of undead. Unfortunately, it is still impossible to remove an item from the slot. But putting a new one on top of it destroys the old one.

Iratus ‘ abilities, which can be learned as you level up, were also balanced. For example, our villain was deprived of the ability to instantly kill an enemy unit. Apparently, the developers considered this spell too ultimatum – now it removes only 50 % of health. Iratus has a new battle parameter-the power of spells: the greater it is, the lower the cost of using magic and the greater the damage from it.

Alchemy began to work a little differently. An improved part is no longer created from two parts of a worse quality. For a good fragment, you will need three components (and no matter what: the heart can be made even from bones, skulls and ashes) and a little luck. The better the source material, the higher the chance that something rare will turn out. And between battles, you can restore the health of minions and Iratus’ mana points with the help of processing pieces.

Without any changes only the visual component of the game remained. Who knows, maybe the developers wanted to knock a nostalgic tear out of us: a typical design and the Goblin’s voice as a voice-over came in handy. At the same time, I still think that Lord of the Dead does not look repulsive.

It is also encouraging to see that Unfrozen does not plan to abandon its offspring – in September, Iratus is due to release the addition Wrath of the Necromancer, which will add new content to the game, including minions, bosses and ordinary enemies, as well as an updated ending.

Is the game worth it to spend these very tens of hours in it? I can only give an affirmative answer. Despite all its roughness, it is not a joke fascinating, and if you once fell in love with Darkest Dungeon, but abandoned it because of hardcore, then Iratus: Lord of the Dead has a chance to fill this hole in your soul. You can pass it at a normal level of difficulty, saving a lot more nerve cells.