Unholy: A Riveting Psychological Horror Experience – Demo Review
Unholy, the latest creation by Hook Publishing and Duality Games, offers a gripping psychological horror experience that left me both intrigued and unsettled during my 25-minute demo session.
Set in a post-Soviet town, the game revolves around the mysterious disappearance of a young girl, immersing players in a spine-chilling narrative filled with exploration, puzzle-solving, and combat mechanics. Players must traverse between the real world and the eerie “Unholy world” as they must trace the girl’s disappearance.
I was captivated by the contrasting environments, with the real world presenting a calm yet sombre Eastern European town, while the Unholy world exposes a haunting darkness that oozes an air of impending doom.
Contributing to the game’s haunting atmosphere are the captivating graphics crafted by the talented dark artist Tomasz Strzalkowski, known for his work as Duality Games Art director and founder. His mastery of creating a visually striking world helps to enhance the chilling narrative, effectively drawing players deeper into the tale of Unholy.
The Three Stages of Unholy
The demo of Unholy offers a thrilling glimpse into three distinct stages of the game, providing a preview of what this puzzler horror has in store. Each stage presents its own unique challenges and opportunities for players to unravel the story.
In the first stage, players are tasked with exploring Dorothea’s apartment and collecting vital pieces of information regarding Gabriel’s disappearance. Navigating this environment was relatively straightforward, with clear graphics and interactive elements that effectively set the scene. While there were a few initial hiccups in understanding my mission, this section was manageable, and the puzzles served as engaging tools to advance the narrative.
The second stage truly immerses players in the spine-tingling elements of the game as they traverse between two realities. Here, players are introduced to various game mechanics along a linear path. Notably, Unholy goes beyond mere hiding from enemies, setting it apart from many other horror games. I thoroughly enjoyed the puzzle-solving elements and uncovering collectibles like the slingshot, which proved instrumental in destroying objects and creating smoke screens to evade enemies.
The final stage grants players a firsthand experience of the “Unholy world” and the exhilaration that accompanies the search for Gabriel. Survival becomes paramount as you navigate through this treacherous realm. The demo provided glimpses of heart-pounding moments, such as hiding from enemies, strategically destroying objects, and piecing together intricate puzzles.
Furthermore, the introduction of the game’s unique element called emotions, including anger, fear, sadness, and desire, added a compelling layer to the gameplay. For example, utilising the emotion of sadness allowed players to conceal themselves from enemies by employing smoke as a cover.
“My overall impressions of Unholy were generally positive.”
My initial experiences with Unholy were largely positive, although I did encounter some clunky mechanics that hindered my progress. For instance, I found it challenging to identify the correct platforms to climb and struggled with understanding the navigation and evasion techniques necessary to avoid enemies on watch.
In addition, I faced difficulty in solving the final puzzle of the demo. Despite successfully navigating past the final enemy, I was unable to interact with the puzzle, leaving me confused. The lack of clear instructions or descriptions led to multiple deaths before I realised that I needed to acquire a collectible much earlier, which was not directly evident.
Despite these setbacks, my overall impressions of Unholy were generally positive, and I remain anticipative of the game’s full release. I am hopeful that these clunky mechanics will be addressed and that the final version will provide a more polished and immersive gaming experience.
There is currently no release date for Unholy yet, although Hook Publishing has advised that the game will be released in 2023 for PC, PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X|S.