When it comes to taking inspiration from FromSoftware’s Souls franchise, there is no shortage of games hoping to replicate similar feelings of adventure, dread, atmosphere, and difficulty. Rare, however, are games that only pick one or two aspects from Souls games and apply them in a unique way of their own, essentially forging their own identities. Developer Dark Point Games hopes to do just that with Achilles: Legends Untold, by tying Souls-inspired combat in with what is essentially an action RPG that might have more in common with a game like Diablo than it would with Dark Souls.
At its core, Achilles: Legends Untold is a loot-based action RPG that puts players into the shoes of the titular hero of the mythical Trojan war. Starting out as a more straightforward adaptation of Achilles’ advance into Troy to try and rescue Helen. Facing a defeat at the hands of Paris, however, things quickly get out of hand in the game’s story, thrusting our hero several years into the future in the land of Mycenae. For some reason, the world is now infested with monsters, and as our hero tries to get his bearings while also listening to a strange voice commanding him to find a smith, Achilles discovers that there’s also a parallel world filled with strange monsters of its own.
Achilles: Legends Untold is a unique take on the classic story, and acts as a pretty good excuse to thrust us into a land filled with enemies, magic, and epic loot. Unfortunately, that’s all it ends up achieving; the story doesn’t really do anything noteworthy, or even interesting, beyond its initial setup. Even the game’s missions don’t really extend far beyond just having you roam the land, kill things, and find a magical object in order to get your next objective marker.
With the story basically being little more than an excuse to kill things, it comes down to the gameplay to carry Achilles: Legends Untold, which in turn ends up melding quite a few different ideas into forging its own unique identity. Like I said earlier in the review, Achilles: Legends Untold is essentially a loot-based action RPG. It does, however, take quite a few cues from games like Dark Souls in how it controls, as well as the general structure of how it plays.
"Achilles: Legends Untold is a unique take on the classic story, and acts as a pretty good excuse to thrust us into a land filled with enemies, magic, and epic loot."
For example, the game has its own take on bonfires—called Shrines here—where you can rest up to heal and spend your skill points to unlock new abilities. Like bonfires, using Shrines also allows you to fast travel to previously-discovered Shrines, and enemies will also respawn if you choose to rest. The Shrines also act as checkpoints in case you end up making some deadly mistakes in fights.
Speaking of fights, the Souls influence is incredibly obvious. You can use a heavy attack, a light attack, dodge attacks, and if you have a shield equipped, block enemy attacks. Achilles: Legends Untold brings some of its own ideas to the table in the form of unique abilities that you can use at the cost of your Fury gauge. These abilities can range from the mundane, like a kick that is basically guaranteed to stagger a regular-sized human enemy off their feet, to more exotic abilities, like epic ground slams or even a Captain America-styled ability to throw your shield at enemies and have it return.
Speaking of abilities, Achilles: Legends Untold has an absolutely massive skill tree. Depicted by various constellations in the sky, each constellation tends to be thematic around a specific keystone ability. For example, the Sagittarius constellation, which can be accessed fairly early through the game, focuses on raising your strength, and lets you unlock the closest thing the game has to a parry mechanic. Each constellation also unlocks a unique passive ability once you’ve unlocked every other node there. Most of the nodes in these constellations are just simply stat increases, which means that your character will always improve as you make your way through the game.
"Achilles: Legends Untold is essentially a loot-based action RPG"
Unfortunately, despite all of its interesting ideas, Achilles: Legends Untold is let down pretty hard by its combat. Owing in large part to a flawed approach to combat, as well as secondary aspects like poor conveyance of information and a lack of proper feedback for the things you’re doing, combat in the game ends up feeling like an absolute chore outside of the boss fights.
The biggest problem with the game’s combat is that it was seemingly designed with the Souls-styled ethos of having you take on either single opponents at a time, or small groups of maybe two or three enemies. Unfortunately, Achilles: Legends Untold really likes throwing hordes of enemies at you. Aside from the tutorial which felt oddly well-balanced in this regard, even the opening zones where you’ll find skeletons roaming around tend to lead you into getting swamped. While the presence of throwable items like daggers might give you the indication that it’s possible to peel off an enemy or two for the sake of smaller skirmishes, entire groups still end up getting aggroed and start making their way to you. This is exacerbated, especially in the early game, by the fact that just about your entire moveset revolves around single-target damage.
The secondary aspects of combat are also worth mentioning; there’s an absolute lack of feedback for whatever you might be doing, be it hitting an enemy, blocking an attack, or even just getting hit. There are no indicators that you might have gotten hit aside from your health going down, and quite often, without the edges of the screen going red, I wouldn’t even have realized that my health was dangerously low. Even the lock-on feature is incredibly janky, with the game often refusing to acknowledge that I’m trying to switch targets.
"Achilles: Legends Untold is let down pretty hard by its combat."
Boss fights where you’re taking on a single enemy often end up featuring the most intense and fun combat Achilles: Untold Legends has to offer. Since there aren’t any additional enemies to confuse the lock-on, and the bigger enemies in a boss fight often tend to telegraph their next moves more clearly. Despite that, however, the combat ultimately feels like it’s the mediocre execution of some very interesting ideas.
Things don’t really get more interesting with the loot and skill tree either; most of the things you unlock in the skill tree are ultimately passive abilities that don’t change up your playing style too much, and equipment never really gets more interesting than providing more stats, or maybe an additional chance to poison your target, or maybe even some extra elemental damage. Unlike what you’d find in loot-based action RPGs, you’re never really going to find a particular item that completely makes you rethink your entire play style and skill build, which is a shame since the skill tree is quite generous in letting you respec your entire build whenever you might want to, provided you have the money for it.
Achilles: Legends Untold is a game that definitely has some interesting ideas going for it, but unfortunately, none of these ideas really come together well enough to form anything but a game that, at best, will help you waste a few hours.
This game was reviewed on the PlayStation 5.
Interesting setting; Some clever ideas here and there.
Unsatisfying combat; Lackluster loot; Lack of feedback during fights.