Undead Knights PSP Review

The crowd control genre that Dynasty Warriors created hasn’t exactly been bursting with new ideas. The majority of such games largely follow the same formula of taking on legions of dim-witted enemies, whilst occasionally coming face-to-face with tougher enemy generals and discovering more efficient killing tools and other equipment along the way. In fairness it’s quite a restrictive genre, but Undead Knights is one of the most unique offerings yet.

The mass killing of Dynasty Warriors and its ilk is obviously a focus in Undead Knights, but additional to this are the zombies at your command, which are used not only to assist you in the slaying of enemies, but also as shields, as well as bridges and ladders to reach previously inaccessible areas.

The combat system is, as typical for the genre, free of complexity – granting a sense of empowerment with no real effort required on your part. It’s not intellectually stimulating, but as always, ploughing through masses of enemies doesn’t fail to offer at least a moderately good time. There are just two attack buttons, of which can be chained together in simple combinations, and a useful dodge command. There’s also an Infernal Wrath attack, which is Undead Knights equivalent of Dynasty Warriors Musou ability, a powerful manoeuvre that allows you to zombify enemies by simply attacking them.

The zombie army aspect is a welcome addition that raises Undead Knights to more than just a simple Dynasty Warriors clone. Zombies are created by not only making good use of the aforementioned Infernal Wrath attack, but also grabbing enemies, with the ones weakened through regular strikes transforming more rapidly into an undead servant. They bear similarities with the Minions of Codemasters likeable Overlord series. Whilst they have significantly less personality than those cheeky little fellows, you can, however, similarly order them to do your bidding: commanding them to attack certain enemies and remove obstacles from your path, all of which is achieved by locking on to the target, an action that is occasionally trickier than it should be. Even more problematic is that locking on will snap the camera to the object or enemy, leaving you vulnerable to unseen attacks.

Zombies are also used as makeshift bridges and ladders, both of which involve stepping on them, now that’s loyalty for you. They can also be picked up and tossed on to the larger enemies, though because this is done via the same button that’s used to pick up enemies, you’ll often grab hold of an enemy instead of the intended zombie and vice versa, which is just flawed game design and a further problem that just isn’t going to endear the game to you.

More positively, at the end of stages your performance is ranked, based on the time you took and the amount of enemies killed. Your rank converts into dark energy, of which can be spent on upgrading your character, allowing for quicker zombie transformations for instance, or enhancing your strength or health.

Undead Knights may bring a genuinely fresh addition to the crowd control genre, but because of its design missteps and the fact that it’s just not as enjoyable to play as any of its inspirations, the game is quite simply a wasted opportunity that should be ignored by all but the most tolerant of people.