Unicorn Overlord Reviews Are Calling It The Best Strategy RPG In Years

Vanillaware does it again.

Despite the weight of expectation on Unicorn Overlord, the latest Vanillaware game after 2019’s masterpiece, 13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim, it seems the studio has managed to deliver another absolute banger, with early reviews heaping a huge amount of praise on.

Launching today, Friday March 8th, Unicorn Overlord is a tactical fantasy RPG that immerses players in a 40-plus-hour campaign with over 60 heroes to recruit into their growing army, all in service of an innovative battle system that combines RTS gameplay with mechanics usually associated with turn-based RPGs. It’s got that classic, sumptuous Vanillaware 2D art style and a high fantasy theme that looks to be dripping in personality and charm.

So far on Metacritic, the game has just 13 attributed critic reviews (it seems access to review copies was fairly limited, hence our lack of review here on Press Start), but the verdict is unanimously positive.

IGN scored the game a 9/10, saying, “Reflecting on the incredibly diverse and remarkably creative world I explored across my 45-hour journey, any issues I had with Unicorn Overlord ended up feeling like nothing more than nitpicks. The tactical combat system is unique and complex while also being easy to understand, expertly blending mechanics from many of its peers with smart new additions of its own. The interesting terrain across the continent of Fevrith makes every fight feel unique, with some of the best map gimmicks I’ve seen in any strategy RPG. Because the campaign is told through the eyes of a diverse and creative cast, its trope-filled fantasy story is elevated in a way that a more traditional storytelling style wouldn’t manage. The shorter, more personal stories work wonderfully to support a loop of exploration and liberation that had me begging to see one more tale told, one more town rebuilt, and one more battle fought.”

Push Square similarly gave it a 9/10, and concluded with, “It’s hard to say whether Unicorn Overlord is objectively Vanillaware’s best game, but for us, it’s right up there, competing for the crown — and that’s incredibly high praise. This is an immaculate and deeply engaging strategy RPG; the best example of the genre that we’ve played in years. For those who are looking to get lost in tactical thought, it’s essential — and for everyone else, it still stands as an engrossing fantasy adventure. Vanillaware’s done it again.”

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While it doesn’t score its reviews, Kotaku had just as much praise for Unicorn Overlord, with their review saying, “This is not a game that is trying to be a narrative masterpiece; it is trying to be a mechanical marvel, and it accomplishes the latter in spades. The endlessly inventive and incredibly well-designed tactical systems at play in Unicorn Overlord make it a thrilling challenge to tackle. It isn’t just a game that longtime fans of Vanillaware should pay attention to, it’s for anybody wanting to play the next great tactics RPG. Unicorn Overlord is the game you’ve been waiting for.”

Noisy Pixel’s 8.5/10 is just a touch below the curve, with the outlet writing, “Unicorn Overlord distinguishes itself in the tactical RPG landscape with its strategic depth and immersive worldbuilding. Vanillaware’s creation shines through its complex combat system, where unit formations, skill settings, and strategic planning are key. Despite a sprawling cast that sometimes dilutes character impact, the gameplay’s strategic intricacies and the detailed, visually rich environments ensure a compelling experience. This game is a notable entry for both newcomers to tactical RPGs and seasoned strategists, highlighting Vanillaware’s mastery in blending beautiful art with deep gameplay mechanics.”

Unicorn Overlord is out now and a free demo is available to download. The best shipped price is at Amazon for $79 with free shipping.