Unicorn Overlord Review

Unicorn Overlord Review

The OMG Review
Our review format is not your usual fare and we’ve broken it down into 3 very simple ratings!

“Buy it!” means that the game deserves a place in your collection. Be it day 1 or a slightly delayed purchase, it’s hard to go wrong with this title. In numbers, this is around an 8/10 and above.

“Wait for it…” means that while the game is good, it probably isn’t worth it at its day 1 price point. We suggest you wait for a sale before jumping in. In numbers, this is around a 5 – 7/10.

“Ignore it!” means that the game is not something we’d recommend playing, whether it be now or in the near future. Maybe ever. Let’s not even go to the numbers for this one.

Sneak Peek
  • Release Date: March 8, 2024
  • Platforms: PS4, PS5, Xbox Series, and Switch
  • Genre: Tactical RPG
  • Similar Games: Fire Emblem Series, Ogre Battle Series
  • Price: starts at $59.99

It has been a long time coming, but the genre of tactical or strategy roleplaying games (SRPGs) has gone from strength to strength in recent times, with Intelligent Systems’ Fire Emblem series leading the charge. The fans have been spoilt for choice, and now, Vanillaware and Atlus are giving us one more reason to rejoice with Unicorn Overlord, an excellent addition that looks gorgeous and plays even more beautifully.

The beginning hours of Unicorn Overlord see players take on the role of Prince Alain, the heir to the fallen kingdom of Cornia. Following the ruthless betrayal of General Valmore, it is now up to the young lord and his cohorts to lead the Liberation Army in a bid to bring peace and harmony back to the people of the continent of Fevrith. At the heart of it all is the Ring of the Unicorn, an important piece of jewelry that figures heavily into the events of the game, as things predictably take a more magical turn than the more grounded Game of Thrones-style political intrigue.

Sure, there will be twists and turns aplenty as players explore the world, leading to conversations and events that can be isolated or connected in previously unseen ways. This makes for a living, breathing theater of war, one that is fully leveraged by Unicorn Overlord‘s blend of gameplay that splits time between the overworld and the various battlefields.

Unicorn Overlord Fevrith

The world of Unicorn Overlord is divided into various lands that contain towns, cities, and interesting places. Exploration allows players to acquire valuable town-building resources and other useful consumables and, inevitably, leads them to combat to free more areas from the overbearing control of the Zenorian Empire. While there are roaming patrols that act as gatekeepers to prevent players from venturing into overly dangerous territory, the real meat of Unicorn Overlord’s combat lies in the battles to liberate the people and their towns.

These stages can be short affairs that take place in a small area, which makes for swift encounters that provide players the opportunity to try out new units and formations. Or, they can be sprawling battlefields filled with interactive elements that constantly keep the experience fresh. Either way, players must lean into their inner commander to come out on top; such is the depth on display in Unicorn Overlord.

Rather than individual units, each squad can consist of one to five units, and depending on your preference and the battle ahead, they can consist of various or the same classes. This plays into the rock-paper-scissors nature of Unicorn Overlord’s combat, allowing smart leaders to exploit weaknesses and cover for other units when going up against stronger foes. The positioning of the troops will also factor into how the battle will play out. To make things more even, you cannot hope to unleash the full might of your forces at the start either, with the Valor Points required only earned as enemies are vanquished and strategic points are taken over.

Unicorn Overlord Characters

When a squad meets up with another, everything plays out to the tactics players can alter before marching into battle. Different conditions can be set to trigger certain actions, and as units take their turns according to their Initiative and available AP, the strategic and tactical acumen of players will come to the fore. As an example, while it may be prudent to have a healer replenish health anytime an ally’s health is below 100%, that can mean losing a chance to attack and potentially rout the enemy. The same goes for attacks that focus on a single enemy, as the last blow could bring healing for your lord or give way to a weaker attack that targets an entire row instead. The more progress players make and their armies level up, the more varied the options there will be, including more advanced classes.

The way a stage usually plays out in Unicorn Overlord sees the need for a strong vanguard to kick things off, helping players build a foundation and earning Valor Points, which then allows more units to be deployed and powerful Valor Skills to be utilized. In addition, tools of destruction like catapults can be commandeered for immense AoE damage, while Divine Effigies can be prayed to for magical augments to your offensive. Throw in terrain effects, traps, and obstructions, and you are only scraping the tip of the iceberg in Unicorn Overlord.

The reward for investing heavily in the experience is decimating the opposing force and the peace it brings to the people of the land. Towns become safe havens, restored using materials, and shops come stocked with useful equipment and consumables. Restoring a town also makes it possible to post a guard there, making resource gathering automated instead of requiring your attention occasionally.

Unicorn Overlord Stage

Then there are also side activities that will take up your time in Unicorn Overlord, with environmental puzzles being a great way to explore more of the world, mining mini-games yielding precious stones and even treasure maps, and more mysteries that will open up towards the endgame of Unicorn Overlord that prolongs the awesomeness even further. There is even a Coliseum set up for players to truly test their squad-building techniques, with separate rewards that are well worth the chase.

All of these are backed up by the amazing art and soundtrack. At first glance, it is easy to discern that this is a Vanillaware joint, with the game sporting that signature art style that has already graced our eyes in other games like Dragon’s Crown. This time, however, it is more measured and realistic compared to the fantastical proportions that may be found in the past, allowing for a believable cast of characters living out an epic adventure in medieval times. There is always something to admire in Unicorn Overlord as the various characters engage in conversations, and even more so when the action unfolds, delivering smooth animations with flair as the battle heats up; it is vintage Vanillaware at its best.

Although we thoroughly enjoyed our time duking it out with Zenoria in Unicorn Overlord, there are going to be areas of the game that will divide opinions. The squad system is undoubtedly one of the highlights of the entire experience, but it truly shines on higher difficulties. In the normal setting, having a high-level squad can make battles a little too easy sometimes, which removes much of the drama. That also affects how battles are enjoyed from the visual perspective, as such overwhelming domination may cause players to constantly skip the gorgeous battles playing out in the interest of saving time, which is a definite waste.

Unicorn Overlord Rapport

The town-building aspect is also a little too superficial. Other than opening up harbors that lead to other locations, there really isn’t an incentive to help out the townspeople beyond automating resource gathering. It feels like saving an entire region should come with more rewards. And while characters who build close rapport with each other benefit from stat bonuses, the execution pales in comparison with the likes of Fire Emblem when it comes to presentation and making the characters feel more relatable. You are still going to get plenty of lore and backstory, but the way it’s delivered can certainly be better.

Those are small niggling issues, however, when compared to the full majesty of Unicorn Overlord. Here is a masterful title that impresses from a visual standpoint instantly, and the gameplay is deep and engaging before, during, and after the countless battles that are being fought on Fevrith. The plot may be predictable and familiar, but the characters and battle system make it worthwhile to continue on Alain’s quest for liberation, and with Vanillaware at the helm, fans are going to be celebrating when they get their hands on the game, akin to emerging victorious after a hard-fought war.

What we liked:

  • A combat system teeming with depth and strategic possibilities.
  • Art and music that makes a deep impression.
  • Huge roster of characters and classes to experiment with.
  • An excellent balance of exploration, combat, and storytelling.

What we didn’t like:

  • Default difficulty can be too forgiving.
  • Supplementary systems can be more fleshed out.

Verdict: Buy it!

Editors choice

As good as it gets for an SRPG, Unicorn Overlord fills a gap in the gaming season with its admirable package of gameplay, visual and audio design, and, to a lesser extent, storytelling. Hours and hours will be poured into finding the perfect squads and classes, valuable relationships will be built, and a continent once plunged into strife will find its feet again.

Vanillaware continues to show its prowess at building experiences in genres it isn’t exactly well-known for, and kudos to the studio for paying attention to the right stuff, and creating a game that will likely become a classic and a standard bearer.

*Unicorn Overlord was reviewed on a PS5 with a review code provided by the publisher.

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