In Death: Unchained Review

In Death: Unchained is a free cross-platform bullet hell shooter for PC, Mac, and Linux that relies on real-time 3D graphics. It’s quite new, so this game is by no means perfect, but it still has a lot of potential.

When I first heard about the upcoming ‘In Death: Unchained’ game from the folks at Gambitious, I was excited. They were trying to create a next generation bow-shooter game that advanced the genre to a new level of gameplay. This is exactly what I’ve always dreamed of in a bow-shooter, so I immediately pre-ordered the game, which is now available on Steam, and jumped on board.

‘In Death: Unchained’ is a new free-to-play roguelike bow-shooter with a theme that is both uniquely compelling and more than a little creepy. Don’t let the fact it’s a free-to-play game trick you into thinking it’s gimmicky or shallow, because it’s not. It’s an odd little duckling with a unique quirky approach to the genre.

With a few exceptions, In Death: Unchained is essentially the same experience as its forerunner In Death (2018), which we awarded a decent [8/10] on the PC VR platform. The game has been out of Early Access for two years, and the majority of the positives are represented in the current, Quest-exclusive edition. It would be a shame to claim that it is the same game. While Unchained will undoubtedly fail to match Quest’s inside-out tracking skills, you’ll still have a good time playing the roguelike bow-own shooter’s brand of utter failure.

Details: In Death: Unchained

Superbright is a developer. Oculus Quest will be available on July 23rd, 2020. Price: $30



If you haven’t played In Death on another platform, you’re in for a death march that may or may not be a guilty pleasure, depending on your personality type. It’s a challenging game with new, more lethal ammunition upgrades, money for spending, and all the accomplishments you can shake a bow at as a reward for persistence. You’ll die and die again, just to feel alive, as in all roguelike games.

The randomly generated game is ruthless in its punishing nature. Purgatory, Paradise Lost, and the game’s newest addition, Abyss, are the three distinct levels available in In Death. After completing one circuit around all three levels, you’ll be given the Sisyphean chore of entering Purgatory II, where you’ll face more tough opponents once again. You progress to Paradise Lost II, Abyss II, Purgatory III, and so on until you die in the game or the Universe dies of heat, whichever happens first.

Three wicked bosses will put your willpower to the test, in addition to the game’s clever mix of ground and air-type opponents. If you die even once, your run will be over, so make sure you have all of your finest ammunition on hand. Thankfully, there are a few save points to assist you cut down on the time you spend playing each session, but if you die, you’re back to square one, although with fresh unlocked upgrades and opponents. It’s an entertaining, though not too harsh game that gives you just enough incentive to return for more as you advance (aka fail).


I’m going to say it: In Death was clearly not designed for today’s inside-out-tracked generation of Oculus headsets. Archery games depend on the VR headset’s ability to correctly resolve the user’s dominant hand at a naturally near distance from the user’s face, which the original 2016 Rift and SteamVR-tracked headsets can accomplish quite well.

If you hold your hand too near to Quest’s camera sensor or just beyond their range of vision, your dominant hand will either freeze in place as the controller is no longer tracked, or wig out as the headset attempts to figure out where the controller is in relation to your face. In either scenario, your shot will be inconsistent, forcing you to deliberately change your shooting style—lest you endure the slings and arrows of a demon’s maleficent vengeance, which you may miss while hammering away at a chamber full of enemy archers. Bow-shooting is one of the most difficult game genres to handle on the Quest. Despite this, In Death: Unchained manages to provide a well-rounded gaming experience, since it faithfully mimics the action on other headsets.


You say, “What about the crossbow?” True, the game’s crossbow avoids the tracking volume problem since it’s essentially a manual pistol rather than a bow that needs a broad draw. I won’t speak for either side, but In Death’s long-term players seem split on whether the crossbow improves or degrades the overall experience.

The leaderboard is everything to dedicated In Death gamers, and even only a few hours after the game became online, crossbow players have led the worldwide rankings in user points. However, on Quest, the crossbow makes a lot of sense since you get a near-perfect 1:1 gameplay experience across all platforms. It’s also a lot of fun to gank a swarm of ghouls using a rapid fire reload method.


The game’s graphics champion is the PC VR version, and although the Quest port has reduced the quality to suit on a mobile chipset, it still provides a game that feels almost all there visually. If I had to choose a flaw, Unchained’s rendering distance is considerably more ‘cloudy,’ making it more difficult to discern opponents for long-range shots. Because much of your fighting will take place in close quarters, this isn’t a major issue.


The controls aren’t always obvious; you may have to go through the whole set of buttons just to get a health chalice or a new arrow kind, but that’s something you’ll get used to.

The game’s magnificent Gothic architecture with church steeples, monastery courtyards, and lengthy bridges provide for outstanding vistas, as we noted in our PC review.


In Death was originally intended to be a teleportation-only game, and although it makes sense to play solely with the teleport arrow or portable teleport shard from a comfort perspective, the creators have also included smooth movement and configurable snap-turn.

Smooth mobility is set at a slow, plodding speed, but the game’s requirement of continuous dodging and the resulting lateral movement may be unsettling for long periods of time.

The game’s ‘unchained’ nature is certainly the greatest comfort improvement, if you can call it that. It feels great to be free of wires once again, allowing you to fully explore your abilities to avoid oncoming arrows and duck behind obstacles. It’s easy to lose track of your initial monitoring area, so double-check that your Guardian is turned on and calibrated properly.

Even so, the game can be played while sitting, but you’ll need a wide range of motion in both hands due to the nature of firing and reloading.

Death: Unchained is a bow-shooter roguelike from the developers of FTL: Faster Than Light, and it took me longer than I expected to get to 100% completion. But finally it was done, I cleared the final boss and won, and now I can say it’s one of my favorite games.

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