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No Rest for the Wicked makes a killer first impression, but I’m worried about all the crafting and survival guff

I am wary about how No Rest for the Wicked's mechanics could drive players away over time.

A circle of hands linked together in No Rest of the Wicked's key art.
Image credit: Private Division/VG247

Explaining what kind of game No Rest for the Wicked is, is going to prove challenging. After spending a few hours with the - clearly very divisive - Steam Early Access launch build, I don’t think I’m closer to quite nailing the answer down, yet. I can tell you, however, that I just can’t stop playing it.

No Rest for the Wicked is the new game from Moon Studios; the studio behind the Ori games. Not only is this the team’s first Early Access launch, it’s also not a platformer that tugs at your heartstrings every few minutes. It’s a punishing action RPG with demanding combat, set in a brutal world that adds a new perspective to the team’s superb artistic talent.

That blurb is simple enough, but when you actually get your hands on the game, you’ll find that there’s a lot it doesn’t cover. If you hear the term ARPG and see a single No Rest for the Wicked screenshot, you might come away thinking it’s the Diablo-like sort of ARPG. Then, you see it in action, at which point Soulslike becomes a more apt descriptor. Stick around long enough, and the crafting and survival elements start becoming more prominent.

Now that I’ve played it, I can see why it might have been difficult to communicate the sort of game that it is early. The most interesting thing about No Rest for the Wicked is how it melds different genres, while picking how much it wants to commit to any of them.

Yes, the isometric perspective gives off Diablo vibes initially, but it has little in common with the loot-driven games of that ilk. Combat is stamina-based, relying on the careful dance of dodging, rolling, blocking and parrying without tiring your character and staggering it - all Soulslike staples. And what about those survival game elements? Well, they come into play in a few ways, too.

The game wants you to learn recipes, which is what you’re going to use to craft everything from your healing and boost items, to weapons and armour. A little deeper into it, more of those survival game aspects show themselves, as you’ll get to build a home and decorate it and such. It was quite amusing to find a crafting recipe for… a chair, moments after barely surviving a bout with a maniacal bird-like creature.

And this really is at the heart of what’s bugging me. I’ve never been a fan of survival games, or their stick-and-rock mechanics. They’re thankfully not as prominent in No Rest for the Wicked, but you also can’t avoid them. You’ll need to spend some of your time foraging for mushrooms and gathering herbs if you want a healthy stock of healing items. And you’ll need to chop down trees and mine ore veins for weapon and gear upgrade materials.

No Rest for the Wicked
Sunflower in the evening, standing in the garden, taking up that space. | Image credit: Moon Studios

I am not quite sold on the ways all of that alters the flow of combat and exploration, and I can already tell that having to stop what you’re doing to farm crafting materials will become tiresome. The fixed camera was another sticking point for me in those early hours. Enemies are plentiful, and combat doesn’t leave a lot of room for mistakes. Couple that with the game’s very punishing fall damage, and it made me much more cautious than I’d like, which goes against the game’s clear intent of encouraging exploration and discovery.

Still, it’s very early, so we’ll see whether reaching the first major town will introduce some new systems that could perhaps massage those early edges. Until then, I’m going to admire and enjoy the way No Rest for the Wicked looks, moves, sounds, and feels.


No Rest for the Wicked is in Early Access on PC (Steam) now.

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