Try the demo for Underhero, a 2D RPG starring a villain turned hero

Four-person developer Paper Castle Games is not coy about Underhero's inspirations. It was largely inspired by the Paper Mario games, and Undertale's legacy can be found in more than just its name, but it's still a unique and interesting-looking game. 

It's a 2D side-scroller with "timing-based" combat set in a fantasy world where the hero has failed in his quest to defeat the big bad, so now one of the villain's henchmen has to team up with the late hero's magic sword to take on said big bad. It's comedic and satirical and, judging from the free demo available on, really quite fun.

Underhero's unconventional story props up its most interesting qualities. You're a villain, after all, which comes with a few advantages, like access to the evil base which serves as the game's "always evolving" hub. The enemies you encounter are also technically on your side and won't attack you until you throw the first blow, so you can leave them alone or talk to them to get information. If you're feeling overwhelmed, you can also bribe them in order to flee.

Underhero's combat is not really something to be skipped, though. It's turn-based combat in a world without turns. You string together attacks, dodges and parries in time with enemy actions and the game's music. Attacking to the beat of the music increases the damage you deal, and specific attacks are always preceded by specific animations. 

If a snake enemy ducks his head, for example, he'll throw a medium attack which you should jump over. If he ducks his head and flicks his tongue, he'll throw a high attack which you should duck under. You can also block attacks with your shield or parry them with perfect timing. Attacking uses energy and parrying or dodging attacks quickly replenishes it, which together with the music gives fights an engaging rhythm. 

Combat echoes the rest of the game in that there's a surprising amount going on. Paper Castle is promising mini games, puzzles, and side quests on top of the expected platforming and combat, so even without a projected release date, Underhero is definitely one to watch. 

Austin Wood
Staff writer, GamesRadar

Austin freelanced for PC Gamer, Eurogamer, IGN, Sports Illustrated, and more while finishing his journalism degree, and has been a full-time writer at PC Gamer's sister publication GamesRadar+ since 2019. They've yet to realize that his position as a staff writer is just a cover-up for his career-spanning Destiny column, and he's kept the ruse going with a focus on news, the occasional feature, and as much Genshin Impact as he can get away with.