Platform: PC (Steam) | Hours Played: 6 (completed)
You’ve probably heard about the hero who defeats the demon lord, but what about the demon lord who becomes a landlord to take over the world…?
Unholy Heights is an indie game that was originally developed and released in 2013 on PC. It has sinced been ported onto other platforms such as the PS4, 3DS and the Nintendo Switch. However, by looking at some reviews, the game hasn’t seen any changes to it since its initial release. Which begs the question: Has the game aged well?
The game places you in the shoes of said Demon Lord (who apparently looks like a balding, middle-aged Japanese man) who decided to spend his savings to open an apartment complex in the outskirts of town, specifically for demons and monster from far and wide to settle in. Like humans, they go to normal-ish jobs, they get married, they have kids and your job is to help them live happy lives in exchange for a little rent… and to join your army and help you take over the world.
The graphics are very simple and adorable as all the characters and monsters are depicted as small and cute sprites, almost like watching an animated storybook. This fits with the aesthetic of the game, which, despite its theme, has an overarching “slice of life”-esque feel (Go to work, come home, kill some humans then have dinner and sleep – every day things really). It does hide some layers of adult themes such as the Cheepys being into cigarettes, how monsters will sometime have “a wet dream” and even one of my monster’s occupation being “J the ripper”… but I enjoy that contrast between the cutesy aesthetic and the few not so PG content.
The gameplay is split between an apartment management simulation and tower defence strategy which was (and maybe still is?) a unique combination. Most of the time, you’ll be looking after the different types of monster tenants who come to your complex. Each one has their own personality, demands, habits and even their own schedule so you’ll be spreading yourself thin between around the rooms to make sure they have their needs met and how much rent they need to pay. This created a sense of individuality that always meant that you would get attached or invested in some of them, like buying expensive equipment for a character in an RPG. Of course, this requires gold which you can acquire through either the rent or by fufiling missions on the quest board – which include killing humans!
This is where the tower strategy comes in as adventurers try to invade your apartment in waves of 3. The game puts a fun twist on the RPG monolith as the “enemies” are basically your typical hero adventurers who want to save the world from evil monsters. This narrative is told through the quest board, along with sidequests that either unlock new items or are just plain interesting. This includes a self-proclaimed hero, Vongole who tries to kill the demon lord countless of times through your playthrough, that you end up watching his growth with each new quest and almost feel sorry for the guy… almost. While simplistic, it does bring more meaning behind each attack, as you feel like it is your responsibility to make sure your tenants survive.
But what role do your monsters have? Well, you can summon them to FIGHT FOR YOU… by knocking on their door. Yes, if the monster isn’t out, then you can use them to fight. Each monster species have their own specialities as well as different attributes and you can also unlock higher ranking monsters in each species by raising their affection with the demon lord. This creates ALOT of options to strategise, which the game definietely succeeds at as a part-tower defense.
Like humans, your tenants can also be defeated and it can get pretty upsetting to see long term residents with families die. However, you are given the option to Save/Load in between waves so you can choose to let them die or reload and forfeit the quest with no consequences.
While the game does have decent pacing, there may be times where you need gold or wait for a monster and are reduced to just skipping a few days. There is a speed button to help the days pass quicker which does help but when you’re tending to tenants’ status screens to check their requests, it puts the game on-hold which is understandable but again, means back to waiting once you’re done. Playing it in one sitting, at least in my experience, led me to becoming burnt out from the repetition.
The appeal of the game is the combination of the two genres. As far as these go, Unholy Heights does not offer anything revolutionary but rather makes use of the enjoyability of these two and combines it with a fun and unique plot. Both genres suffer from down time where you have to wait for something to happen and the games fixes that by making you jump between the two as you like. While there are some areas where some strategy is needed, it’s meant to be a casual and simple game at its core for even new players to pick up and enjoy. For being a game that is 6 years and old, the quality of its gameplay is still pretty polished and still offers hours of great fun. Whatever platform you play it on, the game will be equally enjoyable on any!
Unholy Heights is available to purchase on Steam and on the Nintendo Eshop