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No Rest for the Wicked Review: Gameplay Impressions, Videos and Top Features | News, Scores, Highlights, Stats, and Rumors

Written by on May 1, 2024

Private Division and Moon Studios

No Rest for the Wicked from developer Moon Studios slots as one of the year’s most interesting releases due to its must-see attempt to blend top genres.

It’s a unique attempt too, as No Rest is one part top-down action role-playing game (ARPG) such as industry leaders like Diablo. Yet it is also one part Dark Souls or Elden Ring in its approach to combat.

Tack on some deep customization, unexpected depth to city and even house designs and this early-access title seems to have enough on offer to reel in a big playerbase and shoulder its way into a space crowded with sequels and remakes.

Easier said than done, of course, especially when attempting a never-before-seen blend and the tricky tightrope that is loot balance. But No Rest certainly feels like it deserves more hype upon its debut.

No Rest’s art style is stunning and unique in a way that captures the eye. Like the blend of genres itself, the way it all fits together is very interesting, too.

There are going to be lots of “like a painting” descriptions out there, and it’s justified—there’s a brushstrokes feel to the colorful environments and backdrops that manages to be both stunning and also properly tell the story of a once-vibrant realm that has fallen into horrifying decay.

Yet this includes unique character proportions, which don’t strive for realism. Rather, there’s a lanky-limbed, fitting style to character models that looks a little out of place when looked at up close, yet somehow fits all too well once the camera’s up and above the action.

Then there are the enemies, which are grotesque in a Lovecraftian sense, a striking counterbalance to everything else that drives home the point of how awry things have gone.

Along the way, the world hits on the expected notes, including ruins, forests and the like. The game toys with perspective, verticality and hidden paths despite a fixed camera that will have others in the genre scrambling to do the same. There’s moody ambiance and a soundtrack that fits, plus a very top highlight that is the fantastic voice acting.

Gameplay is, in a word, methodical. Whereas in Diablo, it’s about chaining abilities quickly to get the kill count in the triple digits as waves and waves of enemies throw themselves at players, No Rest slows things down in a way not often seen in the genre.

It’s very Soulslike in nature, with attacks, parries, dodges and block attacks all draining a stamina bar. Properly picking and choosing spots while depleting the ability to do anything at all is key in survival.

And survival is another keyword—ending a battle alive feels less like a victory and more like the relief of escape, in a good way that is simply a joy to play. Instead of mindlessly romping through dungeons and eventually getting so powerful that the biggest of bosses feel like a breeze, players feel fittingly vulnerable in a world full of monsters.

In doing so, players will manage another bar, simply dubbed focus, which builds during combat and permits the use of special attacks. Properly timing these, too, unleashing satisfying potential fighter-enders is a thrill.

Armor plays a massive role in the feel of encounters, too. There aren’t classes per se, yet buildcrafting is very much a thing. Lighter armor means quicker dodges that cost less stamina, as one notable example. Some of a player’s ability to suit up in a specific style still hinges on friendly RNG loot drops, but the flexibility is there.

Soulslikes usually handle player death in interesting ways and that’s no exception here. No Rest chooses to respawn players at the nearest Cerim Whisper (a bonfire like other games, basically), with defeated enemies still gone from the world. But items take a durability hit and have a cost tied to repairing.

Healing can be a frustrating point early in the game, or at least will be for some players, because sometimes it’s necessary to backtrack to find the proper ingredients to even make a healing item.

Players will also invest skill points into skill trees that run the gamut of expected notes, including health, strength, stamina, etc. And while this, paired with the armor impact makes for a pleasant surprise of options available, it’s the plodding combat that really makes it all tick within a stunning world.

What No Rest won’t do is stun onlookers with the backdrop for its main story.

Players are part of a group of holy warriors with magical capabilities who go attempt to ward off a plague sweeping the land. There is an expected political backdrop, as players will brush shoulders with the royalty of the lands and those rebellious elements who strive to displace them.

As hinted earlier, though, what’s really captivating about the tale is how the world marries to the narrative. There are droves of environmental storytelling that watchful eyes will digest, such as not-so-nice remarks made by the citizens about the player’s group. The dilapidated look to settlements in some areas and the overall vibe give off almost Witcher 3-type tones that keep things compelling.

One of the more interesting things while exploring the game is the fog of war element to the map. The map reveals itself as players explore, but if they don’t revisit that area for a little while, the fog returns.

As ARPGs, looter shooters and others have nailed down well, the main story in No Rest, at least at launch, only feels like the beginning and a path to a meatier endgame. Right now, that’s Cerim Crucible, a roguelike romp through challenging enemies that requires certain items to even enter.

Beyond skill point investment and essentially a class system, customization itself is a massive aspect of No Rest.

Players start with creating a character in a rather robust creator and have some notable control over appearance and worn items.

But more notably this also includes the cityscape. Sacrament evolves around the player the more they progress through the story, which offers visual and gameplay benefits. In regards to the latter, this expansion means the opening of new missions, etc. Players can perform an active role in this too, investing materials into buildings.

Players can also purchase a house and customize it with furniture and though it might shock some, it’s in-depth, addicting and fun. Who knew that a gory, gloomy game like this would have an Animal Crossing element to it that is simply captivating?

City and home customization impressively adds weight to exploration. Rather than just farming mats out in the world that become irrelevant as the numbers climb, collecting all that stuff can turn into meaningful furniture and decorations for a home.

Fishing plays a key role in the extensive crafting system, which includes finding specific animals or ingredients to combine for key buffs. Things like gathering wood, fishing and other resource-related tasks could probably use an option to speed them up, but it’s a minor complaint. And while this falls under a “crafting” umbrella, it’s really the game smartly mixing in elements from a blossoming, niche “survival” genre well.

It is worth pointing out that, at least for now, there doesn’t seem to be a respec option, so players can get stuck in one class despite loot drops. And those loot drops are not stingy—but it also makes for a lot of time in menus sorting inventory.

At launch, No Rest merely promises multiplayer at a later date, with plans for four-player co-op and PvP modes. And there are some technical issues, as expected, such as graphical pop-in and framerate dips.

That’s not to say there isn’t replayability beyond the endgame activity, though, as daily and weekly challenges usually found in live-service games exist here and keep things fresh, too.

Beyond expected display and control options, players can tweak minor gameplay items such as whether the game auto-targets enemies, though it’s reasonable to expect the list of tweakable things evolves alongside the game itself.

Bridging the gap between Diablo and Dark Souls didn’t seem possible, at least with proper execution. Tacking on city and home customization to that already-tricky mix, doubly so.

Yet here comes No Rest for the Wicked.

Make no mistake, No Rest doesn’t come firing out of the gates in early access with the ability to take down GOTY. There are some stumbles, like inventory management systems, to iron out.

But No Rest is a stunner of a surprise regardless, with its enthralling world, rewarding combat and customization giving players plenty of reasons to keep going. Much of No Rest’s success will critically hinge on future updates and the actual departure of early access into something more complete, but if done right, GOTY-level feats are certainly within reach.

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