The economy can be a merciless force, even if you're a malevolent being bent on world domination. The Devil, finding the life of a salaryman just isn't cutting it with his plans, leaves his job and buys an apartment out in the surprisingly picturesque projects, hoping to raise an army of monstrous tenants to storm the globe.
Yep, that's the premise of Unholy Heights, a game of money management and defense in a decidedly tongue-in-cheek style. As the Devil, players must run their apartment complex in a way that keeps their tenants happy and healthy, because they're also the only army they've got against the pesky adventurers who show up to pick fights.
The complex starts off with only four apartments, but can expand once there's enough money in the coffers and the right adventurers are repelled from the area. Monsters will mosey by the place, and the player is able to select whether interested individuals will be allowed to take a room.
The monsters range in standard classes including Undead, Demons, and Demi-Humans, but are represented in a cute, cartoony manner. Different creatures in each of the classes will arrive later on in the game, but they tend to share similar quirks. Elementals, for example, dislike Abyssals but love having plants in their rooms.
A tenant's satisfaction will gradually rise or fall based on whether their needs are being fulfilled. They will regularly ask for new or better items in their rooms, some of which will also have an effect on their stats. You're the Devil, though; not Santa Claus. Items cost money, and there's no way in the beginning of the game that you'll be able to instantly satisfy everyone's wishes. There are plenty of items to choose from, with more added through completing certain quests. Unfortunately, it's all in a list form for the most part and you can't actually see what apartments look like.
Monsters will also go out into society to perform jobs such as night watchman, farmer, or school counselor (we want to go to this school). This is largely flavour text, but will affect both the times monsters are around to fight and how much rent they can pay. If you have a strong fighter who is unemployed, do you keep the rent down to keep them around, or throw them into the street for someone else? Monster can eventually find new jobs as well as lovers. Having a lover move in not only provides another being to protect the apartments, but boosts both their stats as well. They might also have a kid who will become even more powerful when they grow up - if you can keep them alive that long.
The fighting is what will likely make or break Unholy Heights for most players. The overall gist is rather simple: enemies will come in from the left toward the apartments. Knock on the doors of the monsters you want to send out to defend and they'll come out to fight (unless they're cowards). This is a 2D battle, so arrangement is key. A melee fighter can only attack if right in an enemy's face, with other monsters are capable of launching ranged attacks from behind their comrade. Selecting a fighting monster at any time will make them retreat back to his or her room, which can save their life. You can also send monsters out once an enemy has passed their door to attack from behind.
While the practice is easy, actually winning can be a challenge, even early on. Taking on a quest will send one or more waves of adventurers to your apartments. It's not always exactly clear when they'll come or who will be coming to take you on until you directly face them. Your army of monsters might not be best suited to take on these foes, and you're at even worse odds if your heavy hitter happens to be out working as a party clown at the time. It doesn't feel that there is much you can do to mitigate your chances, although nothing feels better than having that aforementioned heavy hitter come home from work and smash a bad guy who had you on the ropes.
If the adventurers are successful and reach the Devil's office, they will steal some of that hard-earned cash. Be prepared to start over at the very least once with no money and your current tenants wiped out. More always come, thankfully, but it can no doubt feel frustrating to start over - especially if you had families going. These times of rebuilding will take some patience, and anyone who wants to blaze through objectives will very likely give up at this point. On the other hand, finally gaining some momentum and expanding the apartments feels quite rewarding, and might give enough motivation for even the most hurried players to continue. Time can also be accelerated up to 3x to get through these phases faster.
Although originally created for other platforms, Unholy Heights operates splendidly on the 3DS. Touch controls are fully enabled and intuitive, but standard controls also work perfectly fine. The English is not always the greatest, but the rules of the game are still laid out rather well with text and pictures. The aesthetic is pretty simple yet mostly pleasing for those who like their devilry more whimsical than anything else, and the soundtrack provides a laid-back vibe to match up with the look well. There's one track that outright sounds like it belongs in Animal Crossing, but that game's devil is much fuzzier and more rotund, yes, yes.
Unholy Heights is a blend of tower defense and management sim that doesn't over-complicate either element. Although some might wish the gameplay was deeper in certain places, there is a good seasoning of inner complexity that should keep many engaged. Add to that a charming, not-so-evil evil motif and some goofy (if not always the most grammatically correct) flavoured text, and it can be easy to get hooked - if you don't get frustrated by the spiking difficulty curve. This is definitely one for those who like bursts of busywork but don't feel a need to rush to an end. Just don't get too attached to that werewolf you raised up from a pup with free rent only to see him get slaughtered by a Legendary Hero. Oh, Wodog... why must all dogs go to Heaven!?