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After two titles under its belt, Moon Studios is set to prove it’s not a one-trick pony with No Rest for the Wicked.
In any case, those who had finished Ori and the Will of the Wisps, the acclaimed sequel to Ori and the Blind Forest, would also appreciate that the Metroidvania-inspired platformer had come to its natural conclusion, so it’s no surprise that the virtual independent studio has opted to venture to new pastures.
We should also remember that Ori and the Blind Forest was the developer’s debut release, made possible by funding from Microsoft, who retains exclusive IP rights, and so with its well-earned reputation, it makes sense for Moon Studios to be in a position to create a new property to call its own, which is also planned as a multi-platform release with Private Divison as publisher.
That also signals a new change in direction in terms of genre and perspective. It goes without saying that we have been inundated with Metroidvanias in the last decade, with Hollow Knight: Silksong, Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown, Animal Well, Ultros and Nine Sols, already slated expected in 2024, and that’s just off the top of our heads.
Instead, Moon Studios has opted to take a stab on another genre, as it hopes to not just make a mark on the action RPG but, in its own words, “reinvent the genre”. In a Twitter post near the start of the year, Moon’s creative director Thomas Mahler went as far as to say, “Our next project is going to be a make-or-break moment for Moon: either we manage to revolutionize the ARPG genre or we’ll slowly fade away into the distance.”
As for how it will do this, that is still under wraps as we only got a brief glimpse of No Rest for the Wicked in its announcement trailer at The Game Awards, but what we have seen so far shows a game played with a top-down isometric perspective reminiscent of classic Diablo (Mahler having also been a former Blizzard employee with credits for Diablo 3) but the 3D visuals retain the same painterly art direction we’ve come to expect from the studio, the camera also not afraid to come down and closer during its cinematics, all of it presumably rendered in real time.
It evidently cuts a more mature tone than Ori, albeit without the same demonic dark fantasy vibe of Blizzard’s series. The harsh shores of Isola Scara are the backdrop to a story involving a war of succession after the death of a king and the spread of the Pestilence, a plague that’s corrupting everything and everyone it touches, to the extent that the church views it as an unholy evil to be defeated at any cost.
“What we have seen so far shows a game played with a top-down isometric perspective reminiscent of classic Diablo”
You’ll play as Cerim, one such member of the church’s holy warriors blessed with special powers to defeat the Pestilence, which clearly transforms people and creatures into nightmarish abominations that has us thinking of Bloodborne.
Indeed, while it may share the perspective of a Diablo or Path of Exile, the weighty, visceral, precision-based combat, with different kinds of weapons at your disposal from swords and axes to magic gives No Rest for the Wicked more of a Dark Souls flavour, including promises of punishing boss fights in the same manner.
We should also not expect procedurally generated dungeon crawling either as this promises to be a fully handcrafted world with the painterly aesthetic making each area distinct with attention to detail, be it the beautiful sun-draped Lowland Meadows or the dark twisted shadows of the Nameless Pass. It’s meant to be a complex world too as each location you venture to pulls you into the plight of the people and a political power struggle between the new arrogant king and rebel groups all vying for the throne.
Nonetheless, you’ll also have your own sanctuary in the form of a hub town called Sacrament where you’ll be buy and decorate your own house, fish and grow crops, cooking stat-boosting meals, while also working towards improving the town and your standing with its inhabitants and vendors.
And of course, like other popular ARPGs, this is an adventure you can share with up to three friends in online co-op in every facet, from campaign quests to bosses, or simply exploring the world of Isola Scara to your heart’s content.
For a more in-depth look at No Rest for the Wicked’s gameplay and systems, there is a Wicked Inside showcase scheduled for March 1st. As for whether the game itself arrives in 2024 or if it’s still got a ways to go, hopefully we’ll have a good idea then as well.