Sword, shield, and a fight between nightmarish demons from both heaven and hell to determine the fate of all humanity. That’s the setup for Unawake, an upcoming action RPG from Turkish developer RealityArts Studio that poses an intriguing narrative and contrasting worlds, impressing me further once I learn it hails from a three-person team.
While first-person action RPG games are arguably a dime a dozen right now, Unawake looks to “combine the best elements of first-person action combat with the customization and action role-playing background of games like Diablo 2,” according to Mathias Oertel, publisher Toplitz Productions’ senior marketing and PR manager. The German publisher was sent a small prototype of Unawake in its early days and was immediately keen to see more, ultimately handing developer RealityArts, whose prior releases include VR game The Stranger, the support to bring it to life.
During my 30-minute preview with Unawake’s Gamescom 2023 demo, I was taken through a moody biome that resembled the grim yet beautiful worlds of FromSoftware, or indeed of Diablo 4, both from its aesthetic and audio. Dark clouds swarm the skies as far as the eye can see across a desolate land, with thunderous lightning echoing violently.
Quickly, the first-person action melee combat is put to good use as hordes of hellspawn materialize upon the winding path, giving our protagonist a chance to unleash… well, hell. These enemies (one of around 20 that will appear) are made up of mutated humanoids sporting a mix of skull-like helmets and armor. They charge in groups, looking to ambush the unnamed protagonist, waving their weapons wildly. Others stay back, hurling bright green magic spells. It’s all rather hectic, but it thankfully soon becomes clear that the shield is an essential tool for charging straight through the group before whittling each enemy down.
Combat seems simple enough: attack, parry, shield, repeat. Maybe throw a bit of magic in there for good measure too. Fast-paced? Yes. Fun? Hard to tell at this stage. Featuring an assortment of medieval weaponry, from swords and maces to battle axes and warhammers, Unawake also lets you dual-wield and perform up to 25 special attacks, like a burst of magical fire that leaps from your swords when touched together.
Weapons will have four rarity levels, with ‘standard’ being the lowest and ‘ancient’ being the most valuable. Ranged combat is another option, with a bow and arrow available to let loose alongside hand-crafted bombs to hurl at foes from a distance when things get out of hand.
Now two years into its development, what has me most excited about Unawake is its story, which is set to unfold over the course of 15 to 20 hours. “Maybe it’s connected all to one family,” Oertel says, referring to the coming together of the different worlds and how the main character will fit into it all.
The fight between heaven and hell will be “integral” to the narrative, with the gloomy environment from the demo eventually juxtaposed against a futuristic world that will feature further on. It’s an intriguing blend of wildly different styles, as you can see in the Destiny-like screenshot below.
Unawake is scheduled to launch on PC in late 2023, with Steam Deck compatibility being a possibility in the future. The game will also receive support after release in the form of free DLC, including new items, enemies, and story elements.