In Death: Unchained (PC) Review

By Chris Leebody 30.11.2021

Review for In Death: Unchained on PC

Rogue-lites are of course very popular in gaming at the minute, and so why not mix in a bit of virtual reality with it? That is precisely what In Death: Unchained has done, with this bow and arrow shooter mixing up the usual VR formula of shooting gallery games. From developer Superbright, this experience originated from the PlayStation VR system before being migrated and enhanced across to the PC and stand-alone headset space. Available on the Oculus store for £22.99, it has gained something of a reputation for being a challenging, at times scary, but very fun experience.

The best way to describe In Death: Unchained is that it takes what was for a long time the image people had of a VR shooting game - standing stationary fighting off waves of enemies - and instead gives it a real sense of movement, speed and lingering danger. At heart it is a very simple premise. Within three stages full of gothic churchyards, the pits of hell, and creepy dungeons, hordes of undead and monstrous nightmares lurk. Armed with bow or crossbow, the only thing standing between victory and death is the skill of the user. One part stealth and one part action, it's a case of scoping out the enemies and planning the best way to take them out, all the while knowing that there's something dangerous potentially creeping around every corner of this atmosphere-rich world that has been created.

Screenshot for In Death: Unchained on PC

The first thing is just how satisfying combat is. Hits of an arrow really do feel meaty as they chip away at the enemy's health. There's everything, from grunts, and foot soldiers, to proper boss encounters, and the really high level of the AI, means that there is a real sense of satisfaction at taking them all out and having a successful run. Aiming with the bow is completely on point and tied into the movement mechanic, which allows the player to either fire an arrow to move to a spot or use a 'shard' to quickly teleport - it doesn't take any time at all to get into the rhythm of combat.

The developer has also added free movement for those that enjoy it, and while it is a welcome addition for those who favour a nod to realism and immersion, there's actually something really fulfilling about executing a brilliant kill while using the bow shot to escape. One of the most interesting aspects is the verticality that allows the player to shoot an arrow on a rooftop and teleport up there. This just wouldn't be possible with only utilising free movement and the amount of really satisfying strategies it is possible to execute while doing this, as well as making the maps feel gargantuan, meaning it's probably recommended to stick to the teleportation movement.

Screenshot for In Death: Unchained on PC

In Death: Unchained is hard. This is not for the fainthearted. Enemies are more than happy to end a life in seconds when they get the chance to, and the amount of times they overwhelm the player is impressive. That brings this title to the rogue-lite element. After dying, it is possible to spend gold earned to buy some goodies, including additional health, weapons, powerups; the usual. This element really transforms this title into what those best VR games Cubed3 has reviewed do, which it to grant endless replayability and fun.

Screenshot for In Death: Unchained on PC

While the core basic theme of the levels doesn't change, they are also procedurally generated and therefore no two runs are ever going to be alike. From using new elements on arrows such as electricity and fire, to unlocking the achievements that grant additional buffs in health and damage, there is so much content to get through here... which leads nicely to a special mention of developers Superbright. The VR space is uniquely filled with developers who are willing to add post-game free content to games. In Death: Unchained has some of the most content added as part of free updates, among any release there is on the platform.

From the aforementioned free movement, to additional levels to whole new modes, the absolute dedication to rewarding the player base is an incredibly good example, in an industry where so many often criticise developers and publishers. This team has really done a good job as well in the visual and sound aesthetic. As mentioned, worlds are giant and newly generated every time. The lighting and environmental effects, like the rolling fog coming through the church or the dimly lit corridors of the dungeon and hellscape, mean that In Death: Unchained doubles up nicely as also being a terrifying horror experience, when the moaning grunt of a ghoul suddenly appears from nowhere.

Screenshot for In Death: Unchained on PC

Cubed3 Rating

Rated 9 out of 10

Exceptional - Gold Award

Rated 9 out of 10

In Death: Unchained might not be one of the fanciest or idea-rich experiences in VR, but this is definitely one of the most fun to step into and play. An addictive gaming loop of meaty and satisfying bow-play, mixed with the rogue-lite incentive to keep playing, makes this title one that is easy to just keep coming back and playing time and time again. With a really impressive visual style, some fantastically scary moments, and some great AI, as well as developer being so committed to adding ever more content, In Death: Unchained is one that comes highly recommended to Oculus Quest users.






Action Adventure



C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  9/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   


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