This article is written in partnership with UNDECEMBER.
While there’s certainly no shortage of ARPGs available on digital platforms, LINE Games’ recently released UNDECEMBER offers something unique to the genre: complete class freedom. While other titles will task you with picking either a starting class or sticking with a very specific path of progression, UNDECEMBER eschews that by allowing players to determine their own destiny in its dark fantasy world.
Right from the starting moments, you’ll be given a variety of different weapon types with no prerequisites to wield them. While many may opt for the melee-based sword to get to grips with UNDECEMBER’s flow and combat, you’re not locked to that decision at any point. If you feel like switching to a bow or magic staff, you can do it at your leisure.
In other games, specific skill points will dictate which playstyle you’ll stick with, but UNDECEMBER is different. Your intelligence stat still garners your overall mana, but leveling up strength will increase the potency of your magic spells. Not content to let intelligence be only magic-related, putting levels into that stat increases your overall ability to dodge incoming attacks. There’s a nice balance between specificity and general usefulness that encourages players to top up all of their stats instead of focusing solely on one.
This is made possible in the Zodiac system, which is where further skills can be learned. All characters will have three basic stats they can upgrade: Strength, Intelligence, and Dexterity. As you earn levels, you’ll be given points to allot into one (or all) of those three categories. Hit level 10 and the Zodiac system opens up to reveal more individualized skills.
If you favor pure melee and brute strength, you might go for a tree that increases attack speed and range. If you’re into ranged combat, there is a separate tree that will buff your accuracy and fleet-footedness. While this might sound very final, UNDECEMBER lets players reset their stats at will with no repercussions. If you’re bored of magic, you won’t be stuck to it.
This is further established by the skill system that UNDECEMBER employs. Instead of unlocking specific attacks and set intervals, players will collect Runes that give them the ability to perform different techniques. While some of these will require specific weapons to utilize (an arrow strike demands a bow, for instance), you can equip them at any time in a hexagonal grid system.
When placed on this grid, these Runes can be further powered up with colored gems. There are red, blue, and green gems that correspond to Runes that either deal physical damage, are movement skills, or dispatch AOE attacks. Your Runes will have color on one of their six sides and you can match these with gems all around the grid to simultaneously power up different skills. A double hotkey bar even lets you equip attacks for specific situations, further giving you control over how your character progresses.
That’s the unique twist UNDECEMBER’s combat brings to the table, but what of its narrative? Since UNDECEMBER is launching into early access, the entire campaign isn’t yet available. When finished, it will consist of 10 acts that span a variety of locations and biomes. The very first act is straightforward with little deviation, but act two opens up immensely with a variety of split paths and alternate routes.
Each cutscene and line of dialogue is fully voiced to help immerse players in the bleak world that UNDECEMBER takes place in. Everyone is battered and broken, but hopeful that you’ll be the hero they need to change their lives. As you travel through each region, you’ll find books and trinkets that explain the backstory while shining a light on what each NPC wants. It may not be as bold as its combat design, but UNDECEMBER doesn’t leave those looking for a meaty story out in the cold.
This is helped by cooperative play, which is supported on all platforms. Whether your friend is playing on PC or their phones, they’ll be able to join you in UNDECEMBER and help tackle stronger foes and deadly bosses. Many areas have hidden encounters that will drop extra powerful loot, so it’s never a bad thing to bring some help along.
Speaking of loot, UNDECEMBER offers interesting ways to tweak your gear to better suit your playstyle. Both general equipment and attack Runes can be powered up by the blacksmith or arcane master respectively. By feeding level-up gems to your equipment or Runes, you can modify their powers. A basic sword will only deal physical damage, but a modified one might have fire nullification, poison damage, or even increase the amount of XP you earn. The same goes for Runes, which can have their power increased or be imbued with unique skills.
This system means that even low-level skills or items can be carried for longer periods than in other games. You won’t need to constantly shuffle your equipment around when traversing dungeons as you can level up your gear. When you do find a piece of equipment that is unequivocally better, you can even break down the old items to help power up your new ones.
It adds up to an experience that puts player expression at the forefront of its design. UNDECEMBER might seem like another dime-a-dozen ARPG, but it has very intriguing tweaks to the core formula that go a long way in distinguishing it from the pack. With the game being free, there really is no reason you shouldn’t give it a shot if you have any interest.