Everything We Know About Unicorn Overlord, Vanillaware’s New Tactics RPG
What a delightful surprise.
Vanillaware may be coming to take the Most Inscrutable Game Title award from Square Enix. Announced at the September 2023 Nintendo Direct, Unicorn Overlord is the next game from the veteran developer, featuring its signature hand-drawn style but with a type of game Vanillaware hasn’t tackled yet.
If you’re intrigued by what you saw, you don’t have long to wait until Unicorn Overlord’s release. Until then, here’s everything you need to know — including what’s up with the name.
When is the Unicorn Overlord release date?
Unicorn Overlord will be available on March 8, 2024, as revealed at the recent Nintendo Direct. In addition to the Nintendo Switch, it will be coming to PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, and Xbox Series X/S.
Is there a Unicorn Overlord trailer?
Yes, and in typical Vanillaware style, it’s a gorgeous one. The trailer introduces Unicorn Overlord’s story, which follows a “fallen prince” who bears an artifact called the Ring of the Unicorn (hence the wacky name). We don’t know too much about the story yet, but it centers on the prince’s campaign to take back his kingdom from an evil ruler. We’re not told much about how the game will play, but more than enough is shown on screen to draw some conclusions.
What is Unicorn Overlord’s gameplay like?
Unicorn Overlord is described as a tactical RPG, but it looks quite different from other games in the genre, like Tactics Ogre or Triangle Strategy. Combat appears to use real-time movement on a map reminiscent Square Enix’s recent Diofield Chronicle, but shifts into a Fire Emblem-style combat screen with each side exchanging blows when you encounter an enemy. Each character on the map also seems to represent a small unit of characters, as once they enter combat, each side has a small group under its command.
We can glean from the trailer that combat will involve controlling multiple units and trying to claim territory from enemies while protecting your own. An online battle option is also available, as seen briefly in the trailer.
Outside of combat, you’ll be able to recruit over 60 companions, including humans and fantastical creatures. The map is full of points of interest like towns, where you’ll be able to talk to other characters and likely collect quests. Unicorn Overlord looks to be a narrative-heavy affair, as publisher Atlus is already showing off plenty of story cutscenes.
There’s also a glimpse of a mining minigame in the trailer, which suggests you’ll need to collect resources to upgrade equipment or possibly to spend elsewhere.
Who is Unicorn Overlord’s developer?
If Unicorn Overlord’s trailer didn’t hook you, the history of its developer should. Vanillaware has been making games since 2006, and each one is a beautiful, idiosyncratic affair. Vanillaware is known for taking common fantasy tropes and using them to build games that put a twist on familiar formats. For instance, GrimGrimoire (which was recently re-released on Switch) is a real-time strategy game with tower defense elements that plays out on 2D levels. Dragon’s Crown is a relatively straightforward beat ‘em up with RPG-like character progression.
Most of Vanillaware’s games are based in fantasy settings, with the notable exception of the phenomenal 2019 visual novel 13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim, which had a sci-fi setting. Through word of mouth, 13 Sentinels grew from a weak start to being a critical and commercial success. It’s also Vanillaware’s most story-focused game to date, so it makes sense that Unicorn Overlord would keep the focus there.
Vanillaware is also known for the aesthetic of its games, which are clear in Unicorn Overlord’s trailer. The developer has gotten some criticism for its oversexualized female character designs, but it seems like it’s toned that down a bit for Unicorn Overlord.
Can you pre-order Unicorn Overlord?
Unicorn Overlord isn’t available to pre-order yet, but Atlus has dropped some details. When they launch, pre-orders will include DLC that lets you add emblems from Vanillaware’s previous games to your army’s flag. A collector’s edition will also be available at a later date, which includes a soundtrack CD, a 132-page art book, and an original card game based on Unicorn Overlord.