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No Rest For The Wicked Early Access Review: Welcome To The Wickedness

  • Stunning visuals
  • Complex, engaging combat
  • Rich narrative
  • Plenty of technical issues
  • Steep learning curve
  • Multiplayer limitations

A PC code for "No Rest for the Wicked" was provided to SVG for this Early Access review. The game is available now for PC via Steam Early Access, with the full release slated for PS5, Xbox Series X|S, and PC at a later date.


You're familiar with Moon Studios, the masterminds behind the visually enchanting "Ori" series. Now, they've swapped their platforming roots for a grittier realm with "No Rest for the Wicked," an action RPG in Steam Early Access that's as brutal as it is beautiful. First revealed at The Game Awards 2023, this game promises a dark, engaging world where every corner holds danger, and your resolve is tested by the minute.

In "No Rest for the Wicked," you step into the worn boots of a Cerim — mystical warriors with the hefty task of battling a vile plague known as the Pestilence. The story unfurls on the tumultuous shores of Isola Sacra, amidst a power vacuum following the death of King Harol. His inexperienced son, Magnus, takes the throne, leaving the kingdom ripe for the taking — and for the taking down by the deadly plague sweeping across the land.


Moon Studios' legacy of visually stunning games continues here. Unsurprisingly, the game's art style is (already) nothing short of a digital masterpiece, blending a gothic aura with a color palette that can only be described as post-plague chic. The environments, from gloomy beaches to foreboding forests, are rendered in a painted style that feels like you're walking through a living, albeit slightly macabre, work of art.

Swing, Parry, Die, Repeat

Here's where your mettle is truly tested. "No Rest for the Wicked" offers a combat system that's as punishing as it is precise. You'll need to manage your stamina carefully, time your attacks, and embrace death as a frequent, albeit frustrating, teacher. This isn't hack-and-slash experience — more like a think-and-smash. Each weapon feels distinct, from the heft of a broadsword to the quick slash of daggers, and mastering them is as satisfying as it is essential.


It's not all smooth sailing, though. During the Early Access phase, you might find yourself grappling with technical issues that can range from irritating to immersion-breaking. Frame rate drops are the main culprit, particularly during climactic boss battles where precision is paramount. Thankfully, a patch has smoothed some of these edges, but there's still plenty of jankiness that still lingers. It's important to remember, though, that Early Access will allow the developers to address these issues before the full release.

Moon Studios has woven a narrative that feels both epic and intimate. The overarching threat of the Pestilence is a constant backdrop to personal stories and political intrigue on Isola Sacra. Cutscenes are cinematic, leveraging the game's striking visual style to frame a narrative that's compelling but not overly complex. You're likely to find yourself deeply invested in the fate of this crumbling kingdom.


Share in the Misery

One of the more intriguing features of "No Rest for the Wicked" is its online multiplayer aspect. Up to three friends can join you in your quest, sharing the burden and the victories. While this could remove some of the game's deliberate difficulty, it also introduces new dynamics to navigation and combat strategies. The limited nature of Early Access hasn't fully showcased how deep these multiplayer interactions can go, but the foundation is there for a potentially robust cooperative experience — so long as Soulslike purists are willing to give it a chance.


Beyond the combat and visuals, the game offers moments of respite and RPG depth. You can own property, craft gear, and interact with a host of characters in the town of Sacrament. These elements provide a necessary balance to the relentless combat, allowing you to catch your breath and plan your next move in the broader game world.

Is This Wicked World Worth Your Time?

"No Rest for the Wicked" has some work to do, but it's an enjoyable experience in its current Early Access state. The score here reflects the potential simmering beneath the surface issues: a mesmerizing world teeming with challenge and charm, offset by some technical frustrations that remind you it's still a work in progress.


If you're a fan of action RPGs and don't mind a bit of early adopter turbulence, this game might just be up your alley, even in its early state. It's a gritty, engaging adventure that marries Moon Studios' flair for beauty with a new, more brutal gameplay style. However, if you prefer your games polished to a high sheen, you might want to wait until more of the kinks are ironed out.

"No Rest for the Wicked" isn't perfect, but it's got guts — and heart. As Moon Studios continues to refine and expand upon what they've built, there's a good chance that the final product will shine brightly in the dark. For now, prepare for a bit of frustration and a lot of awe as you dive into a game that's as ambitious as it is artistic.