There are only three colours in Unworthy – black, white and blood. It’s an upcoming minimalist monochrome Metroidvania that isn’t so much “inspired” by Dark Souls as it is a pixel demake of it. In one sense, it’s very derivative. The health and stamina bars, the slow and deliberate attacks, the “sin” you collect from kills (and drop on death), the depressed ramblings of NPCs. Even the places you roam have names both intentionally Gothic and unintentionally funny. The Throat of Despair, the Catacombs of Ur, the Cradle of Death. “The human soul is a sponge that soaks up our sins,” it growls in the intro, “until it simply rots away.” But this grimness barely matters, because Unworthy is a competent pastiche of what many people love about Souls games. I still haven’t beaten the first boss.
I also have no idea what’s going on. Cryptic dialogue and uncertain mechanics being part of the Soulsbag. The first boss is a scary giant with a big sword, in case you were wondering. Or rather, a silhouette of a giant with a big sword. Nothing here is given detail beyond its outline, the shadow of a crossbow man or silhouette of a gravedigger. If Dead Cells took Miyazaki’s formula and added speed, colour and randomness, Unworthy takes the same formula and just distills it over and over again until only a black and white 2D plane is left. “There’s no jumping,” says creator Aleksandar Kuzmanovic, pointedly.
It’ll take the average player between 8 and 14 hours to complete, guesses Kuzmanovic. There are other powers and weapons I’ve yet to get my hands on. For example, I’ve been the victim of a firey blaze which hurts you over time, but you’ll also be able to command this pyromancy yourself at some point. Likewise the hammers and halberds of certain enemies. Large Olympic-sized braziers act as save points, and some areas I visited were so dark I had to immediately retreat, presuming there’ll be a way to light this place up later on.
It’s a small game by a lone developer, but based on my brief foray through its Boneyards (and my many deaths) it’s one for Souls flagellants to keep an eye on. Luckily it comes out soon, on May 29, when it’ll be on Steam for for $14.99.