Undying (PC) Preview

By Jenny Geist 04.09.2021

Review for Undying on PC

Of all the games that Cubed3's Jenny Geist has previewed at PAX West, few have stood out more than Undying. Developed by the independent studio Vanimals and published by Skystone Games, this title puts a tragic but fascinating spin on the tried-and-true rogue-like genre. The player takes control of a single mother named Anling, who must escort her son through a horrifying zombie apocalypse… all while slowly being infected by a deadly zombie bite, herself. Before the virus can overtake her mind, Anling must rush to teach her son important survival skills and hopefully bring him to safety. The setup may sound completely dour, but Cubed3 assures that the experience has an incredible amount of potential.

It should first be noted that Cubed3 did not get to actually play Undying, as Skystone Games instead chose to preview the game through an extensive trailer with commentary from the developers. Fortunately, the ideas on display are clever and promising enough to stand out nonetheless.

Players will take control of Anling as she guides her son, Cody, through a terrifying hellscape. Every single one of Anling's actions will teach Cody an important survival skill, whether it be fighting off hoards of zombies or scavenging abandoned homes for supplies. At first, he will be a squeamish, terrified child, but as the run continues, he will gain the courage and resilience that he needs to fend for himself. Even as he becomes stronger, however, Cody is still just a child, and should be treated as such; Anling can slow down to comfort him, tell a bedtime story, or play a game to give some respite from these horrifying events.

Screenshot for Undying on PC

Each playthrough will begin shortly after Anling gets infected, so expectedly, the effects of the virus will slowly get worse over time. Symptoms will keep kicking in, day by day, forcing players to choose which stats to retain and which to nerf. Unlike other rogue-likes, where steady improvement is the name of the game, you will only get weaker as each run goes on, making Cody's training all the more important. In times of high stress, the virus will outright take control of Anling's body, leaving Cody alone to fend for himself for a brief amount of time. If you're not careful, he may fall victim to a deadly attack… potentially even from yourself.

Screenshot for Undying on PC

Of course, there are a lot of single-player zombie apocalypse games that focus on a parent, and there are a lot of doomsday-themed rogue-likes from a top-down perspective. Undying manages to set itself apart from the crowd, though, by telling a somber narrative that can only be executed through its specific genre. Anling doesn't have much time left to protect her son, which creates a high-stakes, fast-paced situation that wouldn't work in a traditional long-form narrative. Instead, the rogue-like structure forces players to make spur-of-the-moment decisions that can have an unexpected impact, giving every single action an immense, personal weight.

Screenshot for Undying on PC

The only worrying aspect from this preview was the game's visuals. While it definitely looks fine, the simplistic art style does somewhat blend in with many other recent indie titles. The lack of detail will stop the violence from being too morbid or realistic, but it might also turn off players entirely with how basic it looks at a glance. This is far from a huge problem, as the rest of the experience remained extremely promising, but it is certainly something to note.

Screenshot for Undying on PC

Final Thoughts

Minor quibbles aside, Undying has immediately caught the eyes of Cubed3 with its clever setup and potentially heartbreaking plot. It wasn't playable on the show-floor, but with a late 2021 release planned, players will not have to wait long to experience it for themselves. Stay tuned to Cubed3 for more coverage of Undying, as well as PAX West as a whole.









C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  n/a

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Q4 2021   North America release date Q4 2021   Japan release date Q4 2021   Australian release date Q4 2021   


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