Unicorn Overlord - Switch Review

"Unicorn Overlord is perfect."

Unicorn Overlord - Switch Review
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Show of hands: this is my first Vanillaware game. I’ve heard of Dragon’s Crown, Odin Sphere and other titles, but Unicorn Overlord is my very first true experience with the studio. And... I don’t think I can ever go back after playing this absolutely stellar tactical RPG.

In Unicorn Overlord, we accompany the lost prince Alain, orphan of the Royal Line of the kingdom of Cornia, in his quest to free the continent of Fevrith, avenge his family and reclaim his throne. It’s a simple, effective story concept that explodes into one of the best gaming experiences I have ever had.

Unicorn Overlord isn’t good. Unicorn Overlord is much more than that.

The Good: Unicorn Overlord

Unicorn Overlord took me 111:11 hours to finish, and I can firmly say one thing: even after thinking deeply about it, I could not find anything that came even close to spoiling the amazing experience that the game provides. Gameplay, story, characters, visuals and sound all come together to deliver what I am happy to call a perfect game.

In a few words, Unicorn Overlord is absolutely gorgeous. The amount of detail and charm exuding from the map, the character designs and even the backgrounds is astonishing and draws you into this very layered and alive world.

Although the character models don’t have a large amount of animation, all the ones that they do have are very expressive. The body language and expressions of every member of the cast make full use of their time in the spotlight when outside of combat, while the combat animations themselves are fluid, beautiful and punchy.

The main story is a simple one, executed professionally. While the idea of a lost prince gathering a band of allies to defeat a dark lord doesn’t seem original, I believe that execution is what separates the classics from the cliches, and Unicorn Overlord executes it amazingly. The plot moves at a good pace, giving each step time to breathe and show development.

Mind you, the real story draw of the game isn’t the main plot, but the characters. Every step of the journey is punctuated not by large plot beats but by the actions and choices of the cast and meetings between new allies, enemies, and old acquaintances. The plot is the vehicle through which we meet the game’s incredible cast of characters, and every single one has so much to add.

Each part of the story is guided by the presence and goals of characters that are directly related to that part of the world’s situation, giving them a place and a related story arc within the major plotline, fleshing them out patiently and making sure the player knows who they’re fighting with.

And for those that aren’t directly related to the main story arcs? Almost every character has multiple rapport conversations with others that shed light on deeper aspects of their personalities, backgrounds, wants, fears and more. It’s a veritable feast for story lovers! (Note: I mean that literally, one of the best ways to raise rapport levels is to pick characters to eat some of the game’s drop-dead-gorgeous foods and feasts.)

Actually playing the game is a very in-depth experience. The tactical gameplay aspects offer a lot of variables and customisation choices - Moving squads around the map, accounting for enemies, the terrain, barricades and possible ambushes is extremely engaging.

One thing that surprised me, however, was the way the game handled the actual combat portions. In Unicorn Overlord, you do not actively fight with the opposite unit; rather, you set your squad’s “Tactics” and formation and let them figure things out. At first, I thought that was disappointing, but I soon realised how in-depth the planning stage can be and how much it can affect.

Finally, did I mention the game is fully voice acted? Not by a small cast, either: over two hundred actors lent their voices to the main characters and the hireable mercenaries, and they do an amazing job. Each character sounds unique and full of emotion, while the musical score keeps up the pace, setting the scenes and moods expertly.

The more I think about it, the more I am in awe that Unicorn Overlord had funding problems and still came out as one of the greatest gaming experiences I’ve had in many years. Vanillaware created something this special while under pressure, and I, for one, salute them.


  • The game succeeds in everything it proposes to do
  • Detailed, gorgeous aesthetics all around
  • Deep and layered characters within a classic, well-done main plot
  • Amazing voice acting and musical score
  • Approachable yet deep and engaging gameplay
  • Overall perfect as a tactical RPG

The Bad?

I do not consider Unicorn Overlord to have any substantial flaws. 

Although I can put together a handful of small criticisms of the game, I would be a liar if I said that even putting all of them together interfered in the absolute slightest in my experience of the game. I firmly believe that they lack substance and are quickly swept away by the quality of the game as a whole.

For all the details and expressiveness of the character models, they are made to exist only in 2D space and from one angle. The full model is flipped when characters turn in opposite directions, making certain characters appear ambidextrous or have their attire mirrored fully rather than having a leftside and rightside design.

When it comes to difficulty, the standard difficulty setting (normal) and even the supposedly harder setting (tactical) are very easy. The free, unlimited use of items and generally more generous amounts of Valor Points do make the stages far too easy to get through if you freely use said mechanics or pop an item whenever you feel threatened.

Part of it might be general game sense and familiarity with the genre, but heed these words: if you know what you are doing even a little bit, playing on Expert is a more engaging and challenging experience.


  • Characters lack left-right model differences
  • Normal and tactical settings are far too easy.

Final Score: 10/10

To me, a perfect game isn’t one that does everything and can appeal to every single player: it’s a game that succeeds in everything that it proposes itself to do, in how it executes itself and in its own experience. 

Unicorn Overlord is perfect. 

This review took a while as I truly legitimately sat down and mulled over the game, wondering if there was anything that I truly had a problem with, but the truth is that I didn’t. I enjoyed every single second of Unicorn Overlord in a way that I haven’t enjoyed any game in many years.

This was my first taste of a Vanillaware game, and I can’t believe how lucky I am to have hit a jackpot and picked up an absolute masterpiece on my first try. As a fan of RPGs, as a fan of fantasy and fiction, as a gamer and generally as a person, I cannot recommend Unicorn Overlord enough. If you have any interest in its genre at all, it will be well worth the time invested.

Thank you for checking out our Unicorn Overlord Switch review, thank you to SEGA (via Five Star Games) for providing the review code and thank you to our Patreon Backers for their ongoing support: