NY Comic Con: Beat up werewolves, leopard men in Vogster’s brawler, Unbound Saga

If you’re looking for an old-school style beat ’em up where you can beat up leopard men wearing leather vests, werewolves, or bi-pedal karate bears, Unbound Saga should be right up your alley. 

Developed by Vogster Enertainment in conjunction with Dark Horse Comics for the PlayStation Portable, Unbound Saga puts players in control of two comic book characters, Rick Ajax and Lori Machete. Aware of their own existence inside a comic book world, the two fight alongside one another to confront “The Maker,” the mysterious Wizard of Oz-like character responsible for designing and pulling the strings of the world. 

Vogster brought the game to New York Comic Con for its big reveal, and gave us our first hands-on time with the upcoming brawler.

Players can choose to fight as Rick or Lori — who fight alongside each other through each of the game’s 10 chapters — by pressing the select button. While one character is being controlled, the game’s AI will take control over your partner, who will bash heads and kick in skulls right alongside you. Unbound Saga, as advertised, controls like a typical side-scrolling brawler. Fans of games like Final Fight or Streets of Rage should be right at home here with the classic controls.

As Rick, players can punch and kick with the circle and X buttons respectively, chaining together combos with alternating button combinations. By pressing the square button, Rick can grab an enemy and then either pummel them or toss them aside. Being a tough guy badass, Rick isn’t above using weapons, and can pick up pieces of splintered wood and other objects to crush poor bastards that get in his way. 

Controlling Lori is a similar affair, with a few key difference. Besides being a bit faster (both players can dash or perform a vertical roll by double tapping), instead of being able to pick up objects, Lori can perform “shadow arts.” Pressing and holding R brings up a menu, and you can tap any direction on the d-pad to perform one of four attacks — a confusion gas, a poison gas, a health power up, or create a dark clone or Lori that will fight alongside her.

The game feels like a classic brawler, through and through, and we spent a good deal of time mashing buttons to take out crowds of rather interesting enemies. The mysterious maker seems to have an eye for the curious — kung-fu werewolves dropped from the sky, and we pummeled leopard men with my fists. Don’t even get me started on the bears, who didn’t stand a chance against Rick’s back-breakers and Lori’s roundhouse kicks.

Although we didn’t see it in action, Unbound Saga will also have an upgrade system, where the player picks up tokens. With this system, you’ll be able to purchase new moves, and toughen up Lori and Rick in a number of areas to craft the ultimate comic book badasses.

Visually, the game looks pretty damned impressive on the PSP. Seeing the game in action is a must; screenshots don’t seem to do this game justice. The character animations are smooth the backgrounds (drawn by famed comic book artist Cliff Richards) are colorful, and pop against the character models, who are full modeled in 3D. The cut-scenes, in particular, look great, playing out like an animated graphic novel.

Interestingly, Unbound Saga won’t be coming to retail. Instead, it’ll be debuting exclusively as a download on the PlayStation Network, which can then be played on the PSP only. Unfortunately, despite the fact that the game features a team of fighters, Unbound Saga is single player only. No word on pricing when the game hits this June, but with a reasonable tag attached to it, Unbound Saga looks like it’ll be a nice gaming diversion for  fans of classic brawlers.

Nick Chester