The Apartment from Hell
The spread of digital distribution has brought indie game developers into the limelight, and some, such as Minecraft developer Notch, have been able to enjoy the fame and fortune that comes with breakout success. But while western indies have thrived, however, the Japanese indie game development scene is much smaller, and the number of Japanese indies (often called “doujin” games) that make their way over the pond smaller still.
Unholy Heights is one such lucky title that publisher Playism picked up for a western release. The quirky game puts players in the shoes of the Devil and assigns an unlikely task: managing an apartment complex for all manner of hellish denizens. Equal parts simulation and real-time strategy, the game requires players to manage monetary resources by setting rent prices, recruiting and evicting tenants, and making each apartment more appealing for current and future residents through a variety of upgrades and furnishings, all the while defending the building from heroes out to rid the world of monsters for good.
Small waves of enemies will come at random intervals regardless of whether or not a quest is selected, but the main method of progression in the game is the quest system, which allows players to take on more powerful foes and reap greater rewards. Combat consists simply of knocking on a resident’s door and sending them out to battle, but it takes skill to manage one’s melee and ranged troops to keep heroes from killing tenants and running off with the Devil’s hard-earned cash.
While the gameplay is straightforward and simulation elements addictive for any fan of the genre, the real charm of Unholy Heights is in its attention to detail. Tenants are a pleasant mixture of western creatures such as centaurs and werewolves to Japanese ghosts and more, and they engage in all manner of activities from playing video games to going to work to… having wet dreams. Tenants can even get married and have children, adding the slightest touch of a dating sim element to the game. All of this is punctuated by adorably upbeat music, fun visuals, and silly descriptions of all the goings-on at Unholy Heights.
Unfortunately, this is a game that could seriously benefit from a portable release, be it on PS Vita or smartphones, as its relatively easy difficulty and ability to save anywhere makes it perfect for short periods of play. As it stands, however, Unholy Heights is bound to put a smile on nearly everyone’s face.
- Release Date: August 16, 2013
- Genre: Simulation, Real-Time Strategy
- Platform: PC, XBLA
- Developer: Petit Depotto
- Publisher: Playism
- ESRB: N/A
- Price: $3.99
Review Statement: The impressions in this article are based on a copy of the PC version provided by the publisher.