No Rest for the Wicked Preview – Fantastically Familiar In A Faraway Land

By admin Mar3,2024

Last month, I traveled to Vienna, Austria, with Game Informer editor Marcus Stewart to visit Ori series developer Moon Studios. It was here that Marcus spoke to Mahler and his fellow Moon co-founder and technical director Gennadiy Korol about No Rest For The Wicked, the action RPG adorning Issue 365 of Game Informer magazine, as you might have just learned if you watched Wicked Inside today. 

I watched Marcus play the game for a couple of hours, and while I was there to film for cover story purposes, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t watch with some jealousy. No Rest For The Wicked caught my attention during its debut at The Game Awards 2023 in December, and seeing actual gameplay up close was exciting. It looked great, and judging by Marcus’s smile, it felt great, too. 

Though I had to wait a few weeks, I’m happy to say I have finally played No Rest For The Wicked, and as I expected, I love it. And I’m saying that after just a roughly 80-minute preview build that’s apparently just a taste of what’s to come in the full Early Access launch next month. 

After creating my character, I’m introduced to this medieval world with a cutscene that feels ripped out of a great Game of Thrones episode. The king has died, and his close confidant is clearly worried about the future of the kingdom now that the dead king’s son has taken his place; that worry seems justified given the son-now-king immediately calls for a churchly inquisition to a faraway land that’s rumored sick with a plague. Hard cut to Wesley, my created character with his caricatured limbs that look like a gothic painting that’s begun to melt, who has arrived in said faraway land after a shipwreck. With nothing to work with, I start smashing crates and crabs in search of gear, like a sharp weapon and some armor. 

Immediately, I’m struck by the painterly art style. It’s clear the team behind Ori and the Blind Forest/Will of the Wisps is the developer, even if the visual technique is different. If the Ori series uses its visuals to paint a whimsical fantasy forest, No Rest For The Wicked uses its visuals to paint a miserable fantasy to exist in. Knowing this game is inspired by the isometric ARPG likes of Blizzard’s Diablo series and From Software’s Dark Souls games, I see the vision. 

That vision is even more apparent when I find a pair of daggers and some armor, giving me the confidence to move through this land like a fighter on the up. While the field of view might have you thinking it feels like Diablo, it’s much more in line with the challenge and pace of Dark Souls (Editor’s Note: look, I know it’s a tired comparison, but the game’s leads literally told us From’s games inspired this one).

I time parries to open enemies up to big hits, slash until my stamina runs out, dodge-roll out of attacks I’m not prepared to parry, and spend upwards of 60 seconds on standard mob opponents. It feels fantastic, and that feeling holds up when I pick up a large sword and shield, taking my build from a “normal” one with standard speed to a “heavy” one with slower speed and, of course, the fat roll. I find parrying with the shield much easier. Plus, I can perform standard blocks, which drain stamina but prevent huge hits of damage, something using the dual daggers doesn’t allow me to do – it’s parry or nothing. 

 

Switching between these two builds, each with its own unique attack style, is as simple as pressing left or right on the d-pad. Up allows me to eat something like mushroom soup to restore health, while pressing down consumes a potion to regain poise, stamina, or focus, used for special controller-bumper attacks that saved me more than once. Just as I get confident taking on single enemies without worry, No Rest For The Wicked hits me with a group of three bullying the person I later learn is a blacksmith. Defeating all three takes me a few minutes and a couple of mushroom soups, but the payoff is worth it: a blacksmith to sell items to, repair damaged equipment, and purchase new armor and weapons. 

I have plenty to sell because moving through No Rest For The Wicked’s spherical world is a feast for exploration. There might be a chest atop that castle ridge, an item under that sewer tunnel, something atop that fort reachable by climbing vines strewn across its side – the game invites detours from the main path often, and the reward is often worth it. It’s also where I learn Moon uses extra-difficult enemies to gate players off from its expansive world. An axe-wielding foe guards one chest I find after climbing multiple ladders up a fort. His health bar barely moves after a few hits, so I leave and decide that fight is for another day. 

My hour or so of exploration and combat practice culminates in the game’s first boss fight: Warrick the Torn. It’s clear Warrick was once a man, but as some locals nearby who let me cook some soup at their bonfire explain, he’s more creature than anything else now. As I creep up toward his area, the ground shakes (and the screen, too) as a terrifying roar spreads through the trees, bristling in the wind. Moon is telling me a boss is coming. 

When I step into Warrick’s arena, a quick cutscene reveals his monstrous size. Seconds later, a sword twice my length slashes through me, and my health bar is halved, just like that. Though I get in a few hits, I use this first bout to size Warrick up and determine his attack pattern. He slashes in wide, almost unavoidable swaths, lunges across the arena with his sword in front, and body slams the ground beneath him, but not before jumping up and doing that devilishly evil mid-air pause I know well from my hours with From’s games. That delayed descent is my cause of death, as I don’t take it into account when attempting to dodge-roll out of the way. 

Revived at a nearby Cerim Whisper, a blue spin on the Dark Souls bonfire, I return to Warrick once more. This time, I get his health down to a sliver, and he does the same to me – he wins. Third time’s the charm, right? By my third attempt, I have his attacks memorized enough to safely dodge out of the way and counter with quick dual dagger attacks before switching to my sword/shield combo to parry his next wave of hits. A perfect parry leaves Warrick open for multiple hits, and after a few successful blocks, I take him down.

My time ends with a cutscene revealing my journey in this foreign land has only just begun. I know what’s next – I watched Marcus experience it in Mahler’s makeshift Moon headquarters – but this preview build ends here. Fortunately for you, Game Informer has plenty of exclusive details about what’s next in No Rest For The Wicked, and with our digital magazine launch on March 5 (with physical issues arriving in the coming weeks), you don’t have to wait too long to find out.

By admin

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