The heart of cosmic horror is knowing that humanity and all its ambitions are meaningless. Gorgeous pixel art action-RPG UnDungeon drives this home by beginning after the sudden and largely unimportant fall of our species. We don’t even get to be the protagonists.
Funded through Kickstarter last year, now to be published by TinyBuild, UnDungeon has players control one of seven alien ‘Heralds’, roaming what remains of Earth after an interdimensional convergence. While some humans survive, they’re as expendable as anything else in your mission to decide the fate of this merged planet. Below, a lengthy and existentially unsettling trailer.
Developed by new studio Laughing Machines, they describe UnDungeon as an action-RPG with “roguelike elements”. It seems that the seven strange playable creatures are reset when they die, and seem to be taking orders (or at least guidance) from a mummified or possibly invisible human. From what I’ve seen, UnDungeon’s world reminds me of Tides of Numenera (both tabletop and recent PC game), but more chaotic. This isn’t billions of years of change in effect, but rather a chaotic collision of several possible Earths – not all with the same laws of physics.
I’m always up for an RPG with an unusual setting, and this looks nearly as strange as they come without being intentionally incomprehensible, ala Vangers. On top of being packed with beautifully detailed pixel art, the trailer gives us a well voiced look at the story from multiple perspectives. The glimpses we get at the non-playable (yet friendly) aliens are fascinating too, such as a massive clawed sand-beast that speaks slowly and politely, and an arms dealer that appears to be some kind of crystalline octopus. It’s a strange world out there, and one I’m looking forward to exploring.
While Laughing Machines don’t have a date worked out for UnDungeon, they will be demoing the game at PAX West this weekend, with the demo going out to Kickstarter backers in a few weeks. You can see a lot more of the game’s animations, and some extra gameplay clips on its official site here, which is packed with detailed development blog posts.