Unicorn Overlord Review

Unicorn Overlord Review

A few years ago, I was fortunate enough to travel to the Amazon rainforest. It was an amazing experience. I trekked over the course of the day by bus, canoe, speedboat, and eventually hiking through the dense jungle. It was an awe-inspiring journey. That year, the river ran high as there were record rainfalls recorded in the area, the forest looked familiar but at every turn there was always something new, it always felt different, exciting, and fresh at every bend of the lightly treaded track. You know what I mean, same-same, but different. There was always that little bit of something new, an exciting thing to find, begging to be uncovered.

Playing Unicorn Overlord elicited that familiar feeling. Not to the same degree as my time in the Amazon. But in its core experiences, at a quick glance, Unicorn Overlord is simply a strategy RPG. Once you have played them once you know what to expect, the path is familiar. Then as you start to slowly make your way through the game, you quickly realise how exceptionally dense things get very quickly. Yet, the game keeps things fresh and new at every turn throughout the 60–100-hour journey. The hours are dependent on your commitment to the game and how far you are willing to trek in your pursuit of a full game completion.

Unicorn Overlord is an amazing experience. My gaming time with Unicorn was familiar with its Strategy RPG environment. I knew what I was getting myself into. However, I was not expecting so much variety in its gameplay. This is a deep game, it has many complex strategy systems all vying for your attention, coupled with beautiful art design and a continuous drip of new gameplay mechanics handed to you at regular intervals throughout the journey. Vanillaware has done an outstanding job

Let’s get to the weaker part of the game first: the story. It is as familiar as any fantasy game, novel, movie, or tv show that you have experienced before. A track so well worn you already know the ins and outs before they happen. This isn’t a bad thing. It’s as I mentioned earlier, same-same but different.

It follows the journey of our hero, Alain, who leads a liberation focused on reclaiming the land of Cornia from the clutches of the evil Zenoiran empire led by General Valmore. The Zenoiran army decimated and occupied the many cities and garrisons that are peppered throughout the kingdom’s continents.

You start as a humble army with just a couple of units. Alain’s successes allow him opportunities to recruit many to his army who also share the same passion for regaining what is rightfully theirs from the evil empire. Our goal is to restore the land and cities back into the liberations army and reclaim the throne that is rightfully ours. So, like I said, it is a simple story. There are many twists and turns that do hold your attention but nothing off the beaten track. Further exposition is available to those that delve deeper into the game, which is entirely up to you.

One core point to divulge is that Unicorn rewards those who are looking for more than just the usual main story track. It constantly rewards those who are exploring and delving deeper off the beaten track. Unicorn is dense, and you get exceptional value for money as the hours can suddenly rocket into the 100s of hours; there is so much variety in what you can do.

Let’s get deep into the gameplay jungle for a moment. The learning curve of the game initially feels quite complex, but the game is exceptional in introducing new options and further context is explained thoroughly before introducing the next game system. Trust me, you will be an experienced strategist long before the credits roll.

Think of it like a game of chess. Each character on the world map represents a unit. Within a unit, it consists of many different characters, and this is where Vanillaware show how much love and care went into the development into this game. They go hard into their craft for unique and lovable characters and refined strategy mechanics.

There are more than 60 unique characters to join your army, not including the 60-plus characters you can hire. On top of this, there are 40 plus classes, each with its own strengths and weaknesses that greatly affect your battles depending on the classes you’re fighting.

For example, a magic user will be stronger against a tank character. Or an archer will be stronger against flying characters such as Wyverns or Gryphons. To the average gamer, think Pokémon and how each type affects others, but much deeper than that, obviously.

READ: Stellar Blade Review

Characters are placed into multiple units; you choose a leader for your unit, which also affects your speed and traversal of the maps. This strategy in leadership can change the outcomes completely. A flying leader will be able to traverse over mountains and lakes while a horse mounted leader can get to a destination quickly, all of these are extremely important in the heat of the battle and can be the difference between a win or a loss.

I was quite surprised to see that the battles are automatic. You don’t have any control within the actual battles, you do however have control on absolutely everything else beforehand. From character placement, inventory, items, extra actions, additional instructions, and movement in general.

But once it’s time to battle, you sit back, relax, and hope you win each skirmish. Luckily, before each battle, you’re given a quick outcome meter at the bottom so you can see how your units will fare. But you better be quick because you’re also racing the time limit for each fight. This time limit also adds another element of urgency to your choices and strategic directions.

One thing that felt a bit overwhelming to me, but many might love, is that each character will have set action parameters that you can clearly define. These actions will then be played out in battle, and your character will act according to the instructions given beforehand. Alternatively, the game will set some predetermined actions for each character which are default set, and these work fine. But if you wanted to, you could have complete control over every aspect of all your characters and customise every single conceivable action. This system is remarkably similar to the zodiac system seen in Final Fantasy 12.

There are also the usual RPG hallmarks that make these games highly addictive. Each of the many characters can be fitted with weapons and accessories. Relationships can be formed with characters adding further exposition to your favourite companions. There are mini-games, extra hidden battles, hidden treasure maps, upgrading characters, and liberating optional cities. The list is extensive, and these are just the tip of the game.

I could go in greater depth and detail, but I feel it would be a disservice to the reader, the element of surprise as you unravel the world is what makes this such a great journey. My concern with it all is that quantity doesn’t always equate to quality, there is quite a bit of padding to a lot of the side content. But it’s a choice to indulge further, and that’s what I love: you choose how far you want to delve into this game.

The overworld map is reminiscent of the old-school 16-bit RPGs. I’m a huge sucker for overworld maps in RPGs, and this one is beautiful and varied to traverse, with many little secrets waiting for you to explore. Vanillawares  2-D art design is stunning as is its attention to detail and clean animation. Much like their other titles, Odin Sphere or 13 Aegis Rim, their art style shines brightly. The music is understated but solid, it compliments every scene perfectly and not once did I ever tire of hearing any of the familiar tunes. As a complete package of audio and video design, this is an exceptionally strong game.

Unicorn Overlord is the best strategy RPG game I have played in an exceptionally long time. I’m a big fan of tactical RPGs. I love the Fire Emblem series. I am an old head who played Ogre Battles and Final Fantasy Tactics, and I even felt that the recent Triangle Strategy was a fantastic strategy game.  But there is something about Unicorn that kept me in its tracks. It was intriguing enough yet familiar. It kept things fresh but never strayed too far from the core strategy principles. It was rewarding to those who wanted more. It had style, and it improved greatly on old SRPG traditions. And lastly, it was a lot of fun.



Unicorn Overlord is an amazing game that should be played by all, this is the new leader in the genre. Take a journey down the path because the adventure is well worth it!


  • Great art design
  • Deep strategy mechanics
  • Lots of value for those interested in seeking out everything in the game
  • Extremely addictive


  • Generic story
  • Inventory management could’ve been streamlined
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