Undecember’s free-form character class system aims to offer a potent role-playing thrill

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If you like an action RPG where you get to splatter enemies with fast-paced but nevertheless deep combat, Undecember has you squarely in its sights - aiming to be a potent upstart in the genre right as some of the established names are also mounting a comeback.

There’s a lot of things that make Undecember fairly unique, though. It’s free-to-play, for starters, and features a new dark and gritty universe that’s likely to excite fans of the macabre. But pleasingly, hands-down the most interesting thing about it is a gameplay conceit: an incredibly open-ended class and skill system.

The logic put forth in various pitches from the developers is that the core of this particular stripe of action RPG - the combat, the iconic camera perspective, and the challenges within combat - are fairly sacred. The Steam page for Undecember, which has seen a surge of popularity as part of Steam Next Fest, declares these elements to be ‘unchanged’ - that is to say, as you remember them from other titles. With its class system, however, Undecember aims to disrupt.

Being a role-playing specific website, we love a bit of granular, in-depth role-playing stuff. Numbers, stats, debuffs, and huge, sprawling skill trees. A lot of games are streamlined these days, of course - but Undecember is exciting precisely because it offers you a lot of that aforementioned stuff, with a secret sauce in the form of absolute freedom.

When we talk about a class system, the truth is that Undecember doesn’t actually have one. Instead, you’re placing stats, skills, and runes upon your character to build out in whatever direction you want. The game does a little light classification around what you’ve created - declaring any given build to be categorized as Strength, Dexterity, or Intelligence - but beyond that, there’s no restrictions. Equip what gear and skills you like - the game will make it work.

That means that if you want to be a melee brawler who is also comfortable slinging spells from the end of their blade, you can. If you want to be a bruising, tanky mage who doesn’t use those muscles in combat, likewise. Though we’ve not been able to make it happen yet, it seems inevitable that you’ll also be able to create something truly broken - in that delicious way that cracks the balance of the game like an egg and leaves you feeling hugely empowered.

Breaking the balance won’t necessarily come easily, however. Undecember has battles against waves of enemy grunts who aim to overwhelm you, but it also features huge and challenging bosses. The bosses have been designed in such a way that they invite you, again, to experiment - where you might find a change of setup that essentially amounts to a class change is what is required in order to best them. Basically, experimentation is rewarded.

All of this appears to add up to a potent combination - which is why Undecember’s demo proved to be one of the most-downloaded demos of Steam Next Fest, and why it has likewise reached 3 million pre-registered users. The full game is now open to all on PC and mobile - complete with support for controllers on both platforms.