No Rest for the Wicked Early Access Review – A Whole Lot Of Potential With Not A Lot Of Content

After making the incredible Ori games, I was more than a little surprised to see the new game from developer Moon Studios would be a huge fantasy epic isometric action RPG, published by Private Division. I was even more surprised by how good the trailer looked. Both in terms of its visual presentation as well as the gist of the gameplay I glimpsed. I couldn’t wait to play it. And now that it’s out in early access… maybe I would’ve been okay waiting a little longer.

Early access releases don’t have any clear rules to them. All you really know is that the game isn’t complete yet and will be completed one day (at least that’s the idea). With how much content a developer decides a game is ready to be released into early access is different every time. And in the case of No Rest for the Wicked, I don’t think there’s quite enough yet, especially for the hefty 40-dollar price tag. At this point, the game has Act 1 of its campaign, which takes roughly five hours to complete, and some barebones side content.

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Like any good fantasy story it starts with the death of an old king, and the crowning of a new one

While there’s not too much of it yet, the world created in No Rest for the Wicked and the lore surrounding it is definitely the most interesting part of the game so far. The people of Isola Sacra have been waiting for the arrival of a Cerim to save them. Holy warriors with the single purpose of defeating the Pestilence, a sickness, or maybe a curse, that’s plunging the kingdom into chaos and turning whoever it touches into disturbed creatures. And so you arrive to save them, just as their king has died and his arrogant son has taken over and teamed up with the head of the church, who’ve conjured up their own future for the land and the defeat of the Pestilence. The story doesn’t really go anywhere within the limited story missions present in the current build of the game, but the set-up shows lots of potential for political intrigue, an (un)holy war, and a corruption that will hopefully lead to some disgustingly cool monster designs.

There are only really two areas in No Rest for the Wicked so far: a forest and a mine, and in them you primarily just fight a variety of knights, with some wolves, ghouls, and such thrown in for good measure. Truthfully, there’s not a whole lot of enemy variety; the two bosses I fought were the only ones that really stood out as slightly more interesting designs, and while the combat is sound, it’s not exciting when the enemies don’t have much to offer. It’s designed to be strategic and slow, with not a lot of stamina that allows for only a few hits at a time, an extremely important dodge roll, and enemies that hit hard. But the existing enemies, for the most part, all have very similar attack patterns, and therefore, after a while, the combat gets less strategic and feels more like you’re just going through the motions.

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With all due respect you do not stand a chance buddy

There’s also a huge difficulty spike between the first story mission and the second. I get it; they want you to engage with the side content, collect materials, complete daily quests, and level up. But that stuff just isn’t very interesting? Materials respawn routinely and are slightly randomized, but you’re still running through the same environment over and over again, and the kind of loot you get doesn’t have a whole lot of variance. Daily quests are the same each day, unless I missed something. And to level up, you just kind of beat up enemies over and over again, which certainly doesn’t help with the feeling of just going through the motions when you’re fighting. I wish I could’ve just focused on the main story without being basically forced to engage with a buch of side content that is not interesting enough to sustain the time you have to spend with it. And if you don’t do it, the new story area will be really damn tough because you’ll be severely underleveled and won’t have the stats to keep up with the new enemies.

What I will give No Rest for the Wicked, though, is that it’s a lot of fun to explore environments for the first time whenever you enter a new one. It’s surprising just how openly designed they are. While there’s no jump button, you can jump across gaps and climb up ledges by simply holding down the sprint button, and by doing so, you can reach a whole lot of different places that you’d never expect to be able to at first glance. No Rest for the Wicked also uses its isometric view and creates environments with layers that have depth to them, which makes it easy to keep an overview of your progress.

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There is fall damage btw

Another positive, and by far the strongest aspect of No Rest for the Wicked, is its visual style. The game looks absolutely stunning. Sporting a painterly style that quite literally radiates off the screen with some fantastic uses of light and a mostly warm color palette that welcomes you in. Big story moments are animated, and if there’s any possibility of getting a whole animated show in that style, I’d very much like to have it as soon as possible please.

All in all, I have to say that No Rest for the Wicked is a pretty mixed bag in its current state. It’s a game that emits pure potential at every turn, and I have no struggle whatsoever imagining a 1.0 version of this game that’s outstanding. At the same time, potential is really most of what it has going for it right now, as there just isn’t a lot of content, especially for the price tag. I’m sure in the future this will be an easy recommendation, but for now, I’d only really go for it if you’re exceedingly intrigued by the mix of isometric ARPG and soulslike elements.

Nairon played No Rest for the Wicked on PC with a review copy.

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