Iratus: Lord of the Dead Review

Wield an army of undead minions in tactical roguelike combat in Iratus: Lord of the Dead. Drive the forces of good to insanity and loot their corpses for new parts to grow your horde.

Format: PC via Steam
First playthrough time: 19 hours
Play time so far: 30 hours

Iratus  Lord of the Dead. Zombie, lost soul, mummy, and wraith against an elven ranger, swordsman, shield maiden, and crossbowman.

Released April 23rd, 2020 by Unfrozen | Daedalic Entertainment

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Quick Overview

Major Pros:
  • Diverse minions and abilities
  • Diverse minion combos and builds
Major Cons:
  • No boss diversity between runs
Minor Pros:
  • Different enemies per level
Minor Cons:
  • Doesn’t push for trying new strategies
Iratus  Lord of the Dead. Viewing the alternate routes in the map and hovering over the next battle to see icons of the opponents.

Enemies are only fully visible immediately before fighting them

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In-depth Review

Iratus: Lord of the Dead is a party-building roguelike. Players craft a variety of undead minions to combine into parties of up to four. Minions can freely be swapped between parties, which becomes more important as players learn about the enemy’s strengths and weaknesses. Minions have a number of stats from health and defenses to hit and crit chance. Some minions are also able to gain specialized shields that completely nullify either a physical or magic attack.

Iratus  Lord of the Dead. Stats and abilities of a level 1 banshee.

Ability upgrades also come with some stat bonuses

All minions are capable of dealing at least two types of damage to enemies. Damage is either physical, magical, or stress. Iratus’ own minions (and some enemies) are immune to stress damage and thus don’t have a sanity bar. Lowering an enemy’s sanity often gives permanent debuffs, and in some cases can cause the enemy to flee or instantly die. Physical and magic damage are dealt to regular health, although magic damage uses defenses more akin to stress damage. Stats do not automatically increase as minions or Iratus level up, but skill and stat points are allocated per minion level and different minions have different costs for leveling up each stat.

Iratus  Lord of the Dead. Shackles of war, enemies can't escape or become inspired. doesn't affect unit features.

Some enemies react to stress by becoming inspired and receiving a permanent buff

Combat in Iratus: Lord of the Dead is turn-based and uses position-based abilities. Those who’ve played Darkest Dungeon will be familiar with the mechanics. However, it should be noted that unlike Darkest Dungeon, minions have fewer movement abilities, but are also more effective in a variety of positions. Iratus himself can also act on any of his minion’s turns, providing buffs, debuffs, and damage through any spells he’s unlocked. Iratus also has his own equipment and consumables and can also put points into flat buffs for his minions or bonus to out-of-combat alchemy that makes use of spare minion parts.

TODO

Random events can offer clear resources or items, or have high-risk rewards

Between combat, Iratus can build up his resource generation by sacrificing minions to build buildings in his graveyard. Specific minions are required for each building, up to four tiers. Builds can provide bonuses to Iratus himself, such as extra experience, items, mana, or wrath (uses to cast minion ultimate abilities), or to find extra minion parts, heal minions (damage carries over after combat), or minion experience. Iratus can also sacrifice extra minion parts for minion health, mana, low tier minion items, or try to reroll for a higher tier minion part. Similarly, extra equipment for Iratus can be sacrificed for extra Iratus experience.

Iratus  Lord of the Dead. Two minions set to work at the Abode of Wrath, providing bonus wrath at the start of combat.

Once sent to work in the graveyard, minions cannot be recovered

My biggest frustration with Iratus: Lord of the Dead was the lack of boss diversity between runs. While the randomly generated maps and encounters gave a strong roguelike feel, I felt that always knowing what boss was upcoming took away from subsequent runs. Variation in runs typically came in small facets instead of large strategy changes, at least once players had unlocked the majority of the minions. I wanted to see the game push players to try different strategies more. As it stands, build variety is mostly determined by player whim and which minions get randomly crit and killed.

Iratus  Lord of the Dead. Option to choose a gift in a random event. Currently highlighted is the enchanted bone, skeleton only. the skeleton becomes receptive to buffs, but still immune to debuffs.

Minion specific items, while fun, don’t typically turn around how a minion is used

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Recommendation

Overall, I enjoyed Iratus: Lord of the Dead, especially all the different minion builds and combinations. I liked that each level had its own enemies and theme, though was a bit disappointed that the bosses were the same each run. I also wish the game pushed the player to try new strategies more, such as with optional run modifiers. I recommend Iratus: Lord of the Dead for tactical roguelike players that will enjoy being the powerful villain.

What tactical roguelikes have you enjoyed recently?
Let me know in the comments below!

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