Dungeon Crawler Review RPG Visual Novel

Undead Darlings – Review | Just Zombie Girl Things!

With the plethora of zombie apocalypse based media, the basic needs for survival are known. Undead Darlings considers these as food, water, shelter, and zombie waifu babes to take care of you. Today, I’m covering Undead Darlings: No Cure for Love. It’s developed by a studio with a great name if I do say so – Mr. Tired Media, as well as Sekai Project. It has been released on the Nintendo SwitchPS4, and PC.

This is the second dungeon crawler that I’ve covered on the site. I must say that I regret not getting much into it as a child. I’ve played demos of other famous franchises such as Etrian Odyssey and Disgaea. Growing up, my simple-mind preferred platforming and action games for a less complex ride of endorphin. Nowadays, I realize I missed out on a ton of great games from the genre so having the chance to review them is a great experience. Researching the story for this game, I also found out how it’s Kickstarter campaign didn’t initially meet the goal. Mr. Tired Media were certain that the project could work out so they continued work. Five years have passed and it has arrived for us to check out!

ZOMBIFIED BEDTIME STORY!

The game starts out with Reggie taking a great nap; dreaming of sirens, fires, and zombies outside his window. In other words, the usual edgy teenager stuff. He opens his eyes to see his cute childhood friend named Pearl, but she’s much paler than usual. It turns out that you’re only alive because your father put you into a drug-induced coma. Your friend has been with you since, protecting you from all those monsters in your dreams. Oh, I forgot to mention the outbreak currently happening.

Undead Darlings - Convo

Pearl has been busy acquiring supplies for the two of you. She’s even having to wash your body from time to time. So, good job going back to requiring as much attention as a baby. Focusing on the real issue though; the virus itself affects different bodies in a variety of ways. It can leave you conscious, even after death. This is what has happened to Pearl, with no discernible reason as to why.

It’ll be in the kitchen that you‘ll find a note from your father. It says he left with Pearl’s father to research the virus better. Not only that, but there’s also a small dose of the cure attached. He wants you to find a way to replicate it!

CLICHE OR NOT TO CLICHE!

The story itself has an unoriginal setup but the script is very self-aware of that. I appreciate the game not taking itself seriously and taking advantage of witty writing. For instance, it normally makes reference to what is supposed to happen in cliche zombie movies. Even the characters exceeded my expectations and respond well to them. Most of them seem to fall under a simple trope normally used in anime. However, they all have special moments and interactions to show their personalities have been influenced by the events. It really helps to flesh out the girls into three-dimensional people over time.

Undead Darlings - Kairi

DEAD CHARACTERS BREATHE LIFE!

The characters’ chemistry seems generic but genuine too. For example, it perfectly shows how childhood friends would act together. This can mean teasing each other and sharing touching comments. An example of this was a moment where your character walks alone with Pearl in a food court. They’re teasing each other when she suddenly decides she needs to vent about how she died. I genuinely didn’t see that coming, leaving me to feel bad for the poor girl. It was unexpected for a game that jokes around to tackle trauma, abandonment, and loss of innocence. I appreciate that so much because it helps bring an array of emotions to what seemed like a simple focused story.

FIGHT TO THE…DEATH?

Moving from the writing and onto the combat – we see the other half of Undead Darlings. The dungeon crawling in this game fits the usual structure of labyrinths with loot, monsters, and story interactions. You can prepare for each dungeon by talking to Buck; he’s a fellow comrade in survival who is the traditional western American, armed with a shotgun and truck. Buck will also help you to manage your inventory and change the setup of the party. As the number of the girls grows, you have to choose which 3 go to explore. Each one will learn different skills because apparently being undead allows you to cast magic. Some combinations of skills can also mix to form one powerful attack. So, it’s good to mix and match to find out which ones do that. One hint is that most combos are composed of a physical and a magical ability.

Adapting your party to the situation is also very important. It’ll let you deal with the number of enemies sprinkled throughout the dungeon. There are creative designs for monsters that include: detective crows, or machines that look like they came out of Star Wars. I couldn’t answer why those spawn from a zombie apocalypse. Even Undead Darlings doesn’t know, simply stating that they all just showed up. This is what made me laugh and not taking itself seriously with the monster designs made me much more interested in battling. I wanted to explore the whole dungeon to find new encounters. There are even special ones that will protect items. I was able to fill up my inventory fast thanks to my curiosity. And trust me, you can count on your fingers the amount of space you start with.

HELP, MY SWORD BROKE!

One way Undead Darlings tries to balance the small inventory is weapon durability. To me, it’s a mechanic that ends up more as a nuisance than a challenge. At the start, you have very low space and are limited by what you can use as a weapon. There were times I couldn’t use that rare item I found among all the machetes because it piled up. If I look on the bright side though, it’s hard for junk to collect in your inventory since they break.

One final blessing is armor not breaking. If it did, I would have turned into a zombie from stress. Having to worry about what to use against enemies, along with the game’s difficulty made me thankful I was playing on the Switch. I could just turn it off and pick it up some other time if I got frustrated. The UI made me quite mad sometimes due to how clunky and unresponsive it felt sometimes. For instance, when managing menus and moving the party around. Speaking of that, being unable to swap party members during the dungeon was a real bummer. I had to constantly leave to change to a specific girl because a portion of the abandoned hospital called for it. I felt this raised the bar of obstacles arbitrarily.

IN FOR A HARD TIME!

Speaking of difficulty, the enemies aren’t playing around from the start. You need to keep an eye on your health and heal quickly. You’ll also need to pay attention and hit weak points for a ton of damage. Hopefully, you can adapt fast and abuse this mechanic. If you do, it’ll help build-up a multiplier. This can then be activated to increase the effectiveness of items, skills, and attacks. If you don’t keep hitting the weakness, the next hit will reset the counter. So, you’ll need to strategize and use it wisely, along with your characters’ turn order. One great advantage this game can be proud of is the existence of “macros”. They allow for a set list of moves to be made with the press of a button. This makes combat exponentially faster as you don’t have to sort through a menu to repeat a strategy.

ANIME TROPES, ANYONE?

With the ability to speed past battles, you’ve got more time to interact with the girls. So, it’s a win-win situation!

Every one of the six girls has special moments, so don’t worry about your zombie waifu not getting time to shine. I surprisingly enjoyed every single girl in the game. I even liked Jordan; she’s Pearl’s cousin and another of your childhood friends. She falls under the tsundere banner but isn’t excessively one. Overall, you won’t have a problem choosing a waifu as there are some great options. For me, Kairi was the best girl despite the smart, nerdy girls not usually being my type. The game will also have an ending for each and the famous sought after harem route is here too. So don’t worry about it too much, the game’s got you covered.

LOOK AT THAT LINE WORK!

I truly enjoyed the art of the game. Character design is noted to be of great quality thanks to the zombified girls and attention to detail. It shows how their bodies were affected by the virus. For example, Pearl’s hands are messed up as they were very damaged when she died. You’ll notice it quickly, even before knowing how it happened. Each of the girls have their own personal flaw that embraces that part of their life. They will all have some sort of injury.

Undead Darlings - Bump

The dungeons are well designed but I wish Undead Darlings was brighter, but that’s a minor nitpick. It does make sense that in an apocalyptic setting, darker environments are more suitable. There are so many references and easter eggs throughout the dungeons too. This is why I personally wish you could see the areas better. It didn’t harm the overall experience.

VERDICT

Overall, Undead Darlings mixes both of its genres quite well. It focuses mostly on the gameplay side of exploration but makes sure to sprinkle enough visual novel style interactions throughout the whole experience. However, the game is not easily accessible for those who are starting on the dungeon crawling genre as the game lacks some QoL aspects. Therefore, I feel it won’t be easy for newcomers to adapt to. The best way for me to recommend this game is if you are a fan of one of the genres. The game will probably be much less attractive if this is your first dungeon crawler. Then again, a zombie apocalypse isn’t easy, so why should a game about it be?

WAIT FOR SALE ON UNDEAD DARLINGS

Platforms: Nintendo Switch, PC, PlayStation 4

If you enjoy anime games with RPG mechanics, perhaps you’d like to take a look at Moero Crystal H?

Many thanks goes to Sekai Project for a Nintendo Switch review code for this title.

If you’d like to see more articles from us, please remember to follow us on Twitter🐦 and consider turning notifications on. Or type in your E-mail address and click the button for free email updates. You can also come chat with us on Discord.
Loading

Support High-Quality And Detailed Coverage

Want to support the cost of us bringing you these articles or just buy us a coffee for a job well done? Click the Ko-fi button below. You can even find some digital goodies in our shop~!