A raccoon, a llama, and a corrupt video game company… it’s a pretty bizarre concoction, but that’s what you get in SuperEpic:the new Metroidvania-style release from the teams at Undercoders and Numskull Games.
SuperEpic tells the tale of a video game developer known as Regnantcorp that rule the roost with their influx of free-to-play games that have got society completely addicted and spending all of their hard earned cash on in-app purchases. It actually doesn’t sound too farfetched, does it? The heroic raccoon Tan Tan won’t stand for it though and decides to take the fight to them. Every hero needs a sidekick though, and who could possibly be better than a llama that you can ride into battle?
Yeah, SuperEpic is a pretty off the wall game, but the narrative is so charming and anarchic that it’s hard not be kept entertained. There’s plenty of nods to video games and the industry throughout too, some of which are pretty on the nose with certain AAA companies – it’s all harmless stuff though and each will bring a smile to gamer’s faces.
SuperEpic plays like a traditional Metroidvania-style game, meaning there’s a focus on exploring a large-open area that is divided into rooms, beating up baddies, and then using the abilities you unlock to visit previously inaccessible areas. There are also side missions to uncover and mini-game to complete, but for the most part SuperEpic doesn’t try to re-invent the genre too much – anyone who has played a Metroidvania-style game before will probably feel right at home. There’s definitely a lot of neat things to encounter across the world though, with the Regnantcorp building proving to be quite the interesting setting.
One of the problems that I’ve often come across in Metrodivania-style releases is a lack of direction, and unfortunately SuperEpic suffered in this area. Whilst it’s easy enough to generally figure out where you need to go, there’s a lack of information on the in-game maps to let you know what you’re looking for. Whilst things like save points are made clear for you, most locations of interest aren’t, meaning you’ve got to backtrack through countless areas in the hope of finding them again. It wouldn’t be so bad if you could just leave markers on the map yourself, but unfortunately that isn’t an option. It’s a shame, especially since the world itself is generally quite fun to explore.
My favourite aspect of SuperEpic was its combat, which felt more like a beat ‘em up thanks to the way you can string together combos and juggle your enemies in the air as you unleash attacks. The mechanics of combat are pretty straightforward with a button assigned to upper, middle, and lower attacks, but mashing them all together to beat up some baddies was just a whole lot of fun. You’ll unlock additional abilities and weapons as you progress (some of which can be pretty zany), items to equip that give you varying boosts, and also have access to a ‘Rage Meter’ that when filled gives your attacks a powerful boost. I just found beating up baddies so satisfying, whilst the coins you earn from smashing them up can be used to upgrade your own capabilities.
Coins can be spent to upgrade weapons and abilities, so there’s certainly an incentive there to defeat as many foes as you can. It’s quite important too, because some of the enemies you encounter as you progress through the game can be pretty nasty – you’ll notice they increase in number too, so the odds are often stacked against you. My favourite encounters came with the boss battles, with each testing your skills in different ways and bringing something new to the table. They often made me have to think outside of the box to take them down, which when combined with the rewarding combat mechanics made for some super fun showdowns.
One of SuperEpic’s most interesting features is its use of QR codes to unlock bonuses in the game. If you scan the QR code on your mobile phone, you’ll be able to access a mini-game that if completed gives you a code to input in-game to unlock some snazzy additional items. It’s a novel idea and the mini-games are quite neat, but I actually found it a bit of a nuisance after a while. I prefer to stick to just the one screen when I’m playing my video games, so having to switch to my phone (which often has a low battery) when playing just felt a little bit irksome.
It should take players around seven to eight hours to beat SuperEpic, so it’s a decent length – it certainly never feels like it outstays its welcome thanks to the variety of enemies and boss battles that it keeps introducing, but it also felt long enough for it to be a worthwhile adventure. Those who do want a little bit more action post-completion will be glad to see there’s a ‘Roguelite’ mode to unlock that offers a procedurally-generated take on the game too, so your adventure isn’t necessarily over once you clear the story.
SuperEpic is charming and fun, with the quirky industry-mocking narrative and the rewarding combat making for a Metroidvania-style adventure that’s definitely worth checking out. It does have a few issues that could do with ironing out, particularly when it comes to using the in-game map, but for the most part it’s a joyous little escapade that keeps things satisfyingly silly.
Publisher: Numskull Games
Platform(s): Nintendo Switch (Reviewed), PlayStation 4, PC