Iratus: Lord of the Dead is like Darkest Dungeon, except you're the bad guy

Iratus: Lord of the Dead, the new game from Daedalic Entertainment and developer Unfrozen, bears a strong visual resemblance to the disturbing dungeon delver Darkest Dungeon. But it's played from the opposite perspective: Instead of a stalwart hero, you are Iratus, an evil necromancer who has been freed from his ancient prison and now seeks to create an army of undead servants from the sundered parts of his—that is, your—fallen foes.

As Iratus, you wield an array of powerful abilities in turn-based combat against "intelligent" enemies at multiple difficulties. You can expand your powers across a skill tree of four unique necromantic ability trees—Alchemy, Magic, Ire, and Destruction—and rebuild your grim underground lair with vile, forbidden rituals that will unlock access to more exotic and powerful minions.

Enemies can be killed or driven insane—another echo of Darkest Dungeon—and the roguelike design means that when your minions are lost, they're gone for good. Those minions are assembled from the body parts of your fallen enemies, and come in 16 varieties including zombies, vampires, mummies, and banshees, with nearly 100 abilities between them, as well as particular strengths and weaknesses that will need to be factored into your tactics.

We got a preview of Iratus: Lord of the Dead earlier this year and while it didn't deliver much in the way of new ideas, it made a good impression "thanks to some lavish artwork, a feeling of polish, and that monster creation system," Andy Kelly said. It also takes a happily tongue-in-cheek approach to its obviously dark subject matter: Voice actor Stephan Weyte, who previously portrayed the hero Caleb in the recently-resurrected Blood and also provided voice work for Dusk, "chews the scenery magnificently" as Iratus, who's "one of those pantomime villains who really revels in being evil."

Iratus: Lord of the Dead is available now on Steam Early Access for $22.50/£21/€22.05. Daedalic expects the full release, with more levels, new enemies and minions, and a complete story, will happen sometime between April and June 2020.

Andy Chalk

Andy has been gaming on PCs from the very beginning, starting as a youngster with text adventures and primitive action games on a cassette-based TRS80. From there he graduated to the glory days of Sierra Online adventures and Microprose sims, ran a local BBS, learned how to build PCs, and developed a longstanding love of RPGs, immersive sims, and shooters. He began writing videogame news in 2007 for The Escapist and somehow managed to avoid getting fired until 2014, when he joined the storied ranks of PC Gamer. He covers all aspects of the industry, from new game announcements and patch notes to legal disputes, Twitch beefs, esports, and Henry Cavill. Lots of Henry Cavill.