If you love first-person grid-based dungeon crawlers as much as I do then Undead Darlings is a quirky new game that you need to play.
Undead Darlings ~no cure for love~ is as silly of a game as its title suggests. It initially caught my eye when I was browsing the latest games as it immediately reminded me of Mary Skelter which is one of my favourite dungeon crawlers of all time. Both games feature an all-female party with a dude who hangs out with them and they also share a similar visual aesthetic. However, Undead Darlings sets itself apart with its story premise which basically involves a zombie apocalypse that you wake up to one morning. Soon after, you realise that your childhood friend Pearl is a zombie yet she's conscious enough to communicate and throughout the adventure ahead, you'll meet a handful of additional girls-turned-zombie including Jordan, Kairi, Summer, Cici, and Emily. The dialogue scenes remain consistently lighthearted and funny which creates quite a welcoming setting and lends itself well to the dungeon crawling gameplay.
Speaking of which, Undead Darlings contains somewhat lengthy dialogue sequences with the odd decision which makes it part visual novel yet you'll end up spending much more time within the dungeons. The core gameplay is generally what you'd expect from the genre as you uncover maps and flip switches to open gates which sometimes act as shortcuts. You'll also discover treasures and fight monsters, of course. I must say, the monsters are downright hilarious and boast some truly off-the-wall designs. Fighting them is a treat, too, as there's a certain level of strategy required in combat. Enemies have weaknesses and there's nothing quite like attacking the giant scumbag crab's weak point for massive damage. More importantly, exploiting enemies' weaknesses successively increases an EE multiplier that you can utilize at any time to inflict even more pain. It all comes together to make one fun battle system.
As you explore dungeons, you'll discover equipment that'll make your party of undead darlings stronger. However, weapons can break after using them too many times so thankfully, there's a fellow named Buck who can repair weapons with scrap. This scrap is earned by either accidentally or intentionally breaking weapons and it can also be used to increase your storage capacity for when you're in dungeons. I found this scrap system to be extremely clever as it had me constantly gathering treasures so I could extend more powerful weapons' durability while expanding my storage. Another clever inclusion is the subevents that are dotted around the dungeon maps which allow you to watch dialogue scenes between certain characters. This charges your HP and MP as well as has the potential to increase your relationship levels if you make the correct choices. Plus, collecting them all is a satisfying endeavour.
Finally, although I loved my time with Undead Darlings, it does have some unfortunate downsides. The first of which is that the dungeons simply don't have enough mechanics. Merely traversing corridors and rooms while occasionally flipping a switch just doesn't offer enough variety. I would have liked to see character-specific dungeon skills, puzzles, and such as those mechanics would have added a lot to exploration. Next, some of the menus could be more intuitive. For example, when you equip new stuff, it shows what your stats will be but not what they were so you don't know how much they've gone up or down unless you go back and forth. Also, there are combo skills yet I couldn't find a menu which listed the ones that I've already discovered which is frustrating. Finally, I enjoyed the humour but some jokes are repeated way too many times. I get it; some girls' boobies are bigger than others' and guys can be perverts.
Undead Darlings is a gem of a dungeon crawler so if you enjoy exploring grid-based maps and fighting hilariously quirky monsters then you'll love what it has to offer. Throw in a charmingly lighthearted story and you're left with one memorable zombie-filled adventure.
- + Rewarding dungeon crawling gameplay with a simple yet strategic battle system
- + Funny and lighthearted story
- + Clever scrap system and subevents
- - Dungeons could use more mechanics
- - Certain jokes are repeated too often
- - Some menus can be unintuitive