There’s something alluring about the entire creepy feel of In Death: Unchained.
When that haunting chorus of voices starts up over the Superbright logo, the tone is set perfectly and you know you’re in for a good time.
This isn’t a new revelation for me – In Death is a game I thoroughly enjoyed back when it released for Quest, as you can read in my review – but it is a reaffirmed one. I largely put the the game down after launch, but returned this week to check out what’s been added since then, including the Siege of Heaven mode added in late 2020 and updated this week. I came away very impressed.
Siege of Heaven is a wave-based defense mode that is designed for simpler, shorter chunks of gameplay. You still get that addictive archery mechanic, but in a smaller package that does away with the macro roguelike structure from the main campaign. It’s the best parts of In Death’s gameplay, in a different format.
If you’ve played any other wave shooter, the concept is simple to grasp – you stand in one position, largely stationary, shooting down enemies before they can reach a gate or area. As waves progress, enemies get faster and numerous — let too many through, and it’s game over.
There’s now quite a number of maps available for Siege of Heaven, all based on worlds and environments from the original campaign mode. The most recent update, released this week, adds two new levels to the mode, based on the campaign world Desolation.
One of these levels is the first 360 degree level for the mode, requiring you to defend from all angles and upping the pressure, as seen in the video embedded above. While the gate-based levels are equally as fun, the pressure of the 360 degree layout feels particularly potent. The use of spatial audio on this map is also fantastic, really allowing you to pinpoint enemies locations before you can see them.
But no matter which map you play, Siege of Heaven feels like an absolutely perfect addition to Unchained’s offering on Quest. Not only does it provide an option for a quicker style of game, but it also retains all the best mechanics, just in a more accessible format. There’s still a strong sense of place – all of the environments look absolutely stunning, and the entire mood created by the set dressing and the enemies is unmatched. Everything still feels very tangible – the bow and arrow is as satisfying to use as ever, as is the giant church bell you shoot to start each wave. Enemies look just as creepy, but their attributes take on new meanings in this mode – faster enemies are more of a threat, flying enemies can be troublesome to manage, and summoners will duplicate enemies to cause extra mayhem.
Your score on each run can also be bolstered by different types of skill shots, such as long distance shots or shots you land through gaps in the environment. Every enemy can also be taken down with one single, well-placed headshot, which adds fantastic depth and challenge to every moment. If you’re good enough, you can take down enemies in quick succession and build up a combo while you’re at it — landing four or five quick shots in a row has never felt better.
This recent update also adds in achievements for Siege of Heaven, giving players even more reason to replay runs and improve. The feeling of working toward multiple goals, be it achievements or high scores, really enriches the mode and makes it feel much more than something that was just tacked on post-launch.
Siege of Heaven is now an essential component of the In Death offering on Quest. For those that want to full roguelike experience, there’s still the campaign, but otherwise, the Siege of Heaven content takes most of what makes the campaign so fun and spins it across an equally delightful and accessible new format.
In Death: Unchained is available now for the Meta Quest platform.