Unholy Society is a small slice of a good idea

PC, Switch

I know a fair few sweary vicar types. They’re my favourite types of pastor. I instinctively trust them far more. I think the line for me might be the boozy, smoky, sleeping around, sweary skateboarding priests, for whom I have more conflicting feelings. One of them’s the protagonist of Unholy Society, and extremely silly side-scrolling adventure-cum-exorcism game.

Which is quite the genre. In the woefully short Unholy Society you play the unimproveably named Bonaventura Horovitz, a supremely jaded Catholic priest who is forced back to his home town for his sister’s wedding. He’s not been a great brother for a while now, but perhaps rather cements that deal when he loses his mind while officiating the ceremony and murders the groom in front of the whole room. Because he turned into a vampire, see?

Except he didn’t. Someone drugged Bon, and the rest of the game is the beginning of a conspiratorial dive into who and why and what’s going on beneath the surface of Silent, Virginia.

With lots of exorcising. This is delivered via a neat mechanic, where you have to search the screen with a small circle that allows you to see through to a demonic dimension, and find runes that cast spells. You have a short time limit – around ten seconds a round – to find the combinations of runes to fire off your attacks, and then get blatted by the baddy’s turn. Survival is pretty tricky, and relies on a good selection from your spells in any single battle, and some frantic scanning of the screen.

Aside from the even bigger problem mentioned below, the main fault with the game is that often in battles spells you’ve brought in with you simply can’t be cast. The glyphs just don’t appear in enough quantity. You adjust and try again with different spells, but I’d like to see it making sure every available spell is at least occasionally possible in battle, as this seems a significant issue of balance just now.

Still, I enjoyed the process, and most especially the writing, albeit with a fair few spelling mistakes and translation issues. It also looks great, with a very Oxenfree vibe. Also, you have the Pope on speed-dial and can call him any time you like.

It’s rude, daft, and rather a lot of fun. The big problem is, it’s yet another indie game that really really should have released itself as “Early Access”, or at the very least gone a lot further to make clear it’s only Chapter 1 of a larger game. Currently the game is on sale for £9, with no indication that it’s only a couple of hours of what’s clearly intended to be a larger game. There’s no information about whether those who’ve bought it will get later chapters free, at which point this becomes an awful lot trickier to recommend.

I’ve contacted the developers to try to find out what’s going on, but unfortunately haven’t heard back yet. So I’m holding out on recommending this until I find out more. But I wanted to bring it to your attention because what’s there already is good stuff! How incredibly frustrating.

  • Cat-astrophe Games
  • Steam
  • £9/$10/€10
  • Official Site

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