“Have you ever imagined what would happen if The Exorcist, Preacher and Constantine had a baby?” This is the tagline of Catastrophe Games’ newest title, “The Unholy Society”, and I was definitely in for the ride the moment I read it. This side scrolling adventure has all the clique pop culture tropes but mashed into a unique, little, indie darling that is a damn good time and charming to boot.
Our story opens up on the one and only, Bonventura Horowitz, wrapped in the arms of his lover in a tropical destination. Cue the ominous music and hellish flames as her human shell dissolves and her inner Succubus is revealed. Have no fear though, as not only is our scoundrelous hero, a pastor (yep, a man of God), he is also the most badass exorcist in the country. Playing as ‘Bon’, not only are you fighting real demons and creatures of darkness lurking in plain sight, ready to attack at the slightest chance but some of his own internal ones too. He isn’t the most perfect servant of God and he knows it.
Alot of the plot is delivered by text dialogue, which is super witty and fun without stooping to crudeness or excessive vulgarity; I enjoyed the storyline actually quite a lot. I would have loved to have seen the inclusion of a narrator however, perhaps the one from the trailer, just to add some contextual depth to the story unfolding for our friend Bon and to tie in with other tacky horror movie must haves.
The gameplay centers around using the analog sticks to walk around the environment and find and collect things for objectives, all the while talking to people as you go. This isn’t very exciting and can be a roadblock in the flow of the tale. There is combat against enemies which mixes it up again, with fighting similar to turn based but more in the principle of getting as many hits in as you can before the timer runs out and the enemy can attack back. Using your sticks again, you need to search for runes around the creature with your magnifying crucifix for casting spells. These often move around the place, adding some minor challenge.
Before exorcising those demon heathens, you must load up your phone with three spells to take into battle, each with different HP and as the game progresses you can discover more to use at your disposal. You also have certain items mapped out to buttons such as healing that you can find as you explore your surroundings. While it isn’t an action packed title, some people like myself would appreciate and adore the simplicity of the combat but it certainly isn’t for everyone.
Graphically, it is gorgeous to look at. With its cartoonish, colour blocked art styles, it is very geometric and charming. Shadowed in dark colours of greys and deep purples in the background, it contrasts with the pops of colour in the characters very nicely. The sound effects and music also compliment this well since the characters don’t talk, they really rely on the environmental noises. Thankfully they really are a highlight and shine here. The wind whistles through trees, floorboards creak under foot and monsters snarl and growl, each individually to their own characteristics. Subtle bells and eerie tunes play ever so softly in the background, reminiscent of a gaudy retro horror, without ever being truly horrifying. Something I can appreciate as a sook that can’t stand any real jump scares.
As a Nintendo Switch experience, I preferred playing this with a controller and it docked on the big screen, for quicker reaction times in combat. Due to the cartoonish style, I also didn’t see any noticeable downgraded graphics in the transfer.
It is important to mention that this is an episodic story and that only one chapter is available to play, at this present moment. In saying that, it is also a very short one, coming in at under 2hrs of playtime to do everything. I probably wouldn’t mind this as much but at times loading was a bit unusually long for my liking in this style of game. Not irritatingly long, but enough to notice and comment on, especially when going into a battle.
Catastrophe Games have definitely peaked my interests with this game, with its cool as hell characters and a plot pulled straight out of a HBO TV series. Piecing together the supernatural, cheek and humour of the modern world with the charm, style and retro-chic of the past, I definitely can’t wait to see where Bon’s adventures take us next in episode 2 of ‘The Unholy Society’.
- Pop culture based storyline
- Humour and entertaining dialogue
- Cool cartoon artwork and comic like cutscenes
- Eerie and atmospheric music
- Played like a dream on the Switch
- Simple mechanics and controls
- Maybe too simplistic for some players
- Loading screens are slightly longer loading into battles
- A lot of collect and deliver objectives which are not that exciting
- Abit short, just when I was starting to enjoy it, it was done