Unicorn Overlord Review by Brandon Billingsley

Unicorn Overlord is a tactical rpg developed by Vanillaware and released on March 8th, 2024. Those familiar with Vanillaware's work might remember Dragon’s Crown (2013) for PlayStaion 3/Vita and/or 13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim (2019) for PlayStation 4, both of which also featured sidescrolling and strategy elements. If you haven’t heard of them, don’t worry. Neither did I until doing research for this review. 

Unicorn Overlord takes place on the fictional continent of Fevrith, which is comprised of 5 nations. At the start of the games events, the traitorous general Valmore manages to stage a coup against Queen Ilenia of Cornia and seizes control. From there, he conquers the rest of the continent under the banner of the reborn Zenoirian Empire and renames himself Emperor Galerius. 10 years later, Alain, the prince of Cornia emerges from self-imposed exile to and is given control of the Liberation Force, which aims to defeat Galerius and topple the Zenoirian Empire. Players take control of Alain and his allies in tactical battles where they deploy units and engage the enemy, usually with the goal of seizing their command post. Stages play out in real time with both the players units and the enemies moving simultaneously. Each stage comes with a timer that adds to the tension. Fortunately this timer can be paused whenever the player needs to make strategic decisions such as telling units where to go or making use of the valor point system to utilize various character skills. As the game progresses, elements such as watchtowers and traps get introduced, making for more challenging stages. Units themselves consist of multiple characters, in either a front or back row, each with their own class that comes with different skills, strengths and weaknesses. There is quite a bit of depth to the mechanics and I could go on all day but its fun to mess around with different character formations and see which ones prove to be effective.  At first, only two characters can be in a unit but this can be expanded to a maximum of 5 as the game progresses. 

Outside of combat, players can explore the land of Fevrith and its various nations. Visiting the various towns allows for the chance to buy much needed supplies and equipment as each comes with its own shops. The different forts scattered around allow the player to recruit mercenaries, expand units and even promote characters to advanced classes later on. As players explore, they can find opportunities to complete liberation quests, which open up more towns and side quests that can potentially result in new characters to recruit. Plus a number of side objectives that players can complete as they progress through more of the map. 

Speaking of, the map is fairly well designed and I was surprised at how often I was coming across different things. That same map also gets used for the in-game stages which actually works pretty well as they still feel pretty different from actual exploration. Combat sequences and cutscenes are done in an animated 2D style that looks pretty good and lends the game a unique charm. It's certainly a nice change of pace from the usual 3D animated style most games use.

There are some very nuanced mechanics here - from the strategy elements to basic decision making. After finishing a stage, the game may ask you if you want to recruit the enemy you just defeated, or execute them. I appreciate that at least some of these decisions reside in enough moral gray that it doesn’t feel like either choice is objectively the bad one. It also lends itself greatly to replayability as players get to experiment with different outcomes and potentially different unit formations. It's a solid game and well worth checking out for anyone who enjoys strategy games.



Graphics: 3/5 - The 2D art style is quite pleasant to look at. While I enjoy the hand-drawn style of the backgrounds though, they start blending together after a while

Sound: 3/5 - The soundtrack is also pleasant enough but not much from it stands out in my opinion

Story: 4/5 - Its a standard raise an army and retake the homeland story for the most part. But it does have some interesting turns and lore attached

Gameplay: 5/5 - The sheer amount of options and ways to tackle various situations that the game offers is excellent. I highly doubt any two people will have identical playthroughs. 

Written by Brandon B, independent writer/reviewer


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Nothing too special, just a gamer, reader and music lover from Kansas! I love writing and woodworking!
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