Some time ago Japanese indie studio Petit Depotto made a tenant-management/defense title, which I loved, called "メゾン・ド・魔王 - Maison de Maou" (Literally translated "Maison de Overlord") which was relatively successful in Japan, making its way to the Xbox 360, PC, and Nintendo 3DS with plans to expand to Xbox One. We don't regularly see many indie games coming out of Japan, but on August 2013 publisher PLAYISM brought it to western territories under the name "Unholy Heights". Thank you for that, PLAYISM!
To define the game in few words, you play a middle-aged Satan that becomes the landlord of an apartment block. There you can receive monsters as tenants, get their money, satisfy their needs and take over the world, and kill everyone who tries to get close to you.
But how does it play? I'll warn you from the beginning that Unholy Heights does not teach you a lot in its tutorial. Everything you do, you have to figure out on your own (or like any other 21st century gamer, check a wiki online). Sure, this made the game a bit frustrating to follow in the first minutes, but as soon as I started seeing the differences between monsters and understanding the strengths and weaknesses of each kind, the game was enjoyable and gave me a glimpse at how deep it is, under that deceiving childish look.
But make no mistake, Unholy Heights is difficult. It will screw you over by abruptly introducing a brutally strong new enemy that will very likely obliterate all of your tenants if you are careless. Whether you are on a quest or you are in free-time mode, you will receive waves of attackers intending to kill you or steal your money. It has a lot of trial-and-error in it, but while this normally bothers me this time I welcome new tenants to discover how exactly they are different from the ones I had, or even if I get the same kind I wonder how can I make them stronger or pull off a new strategy with them. Plus I always prefer to have them all murdered than evicting the little ones. I'm a terrible person.
Each kind of monster has their preferences and requirements for a room, so positioning is always important. For example, you wouldn't put a monster that is made of water into a room that was made for a fire devil. It would immediately feel unsatisfied with his/her room and leave, or at the very least perform very poorly in battle. If you take care of them and check regularly on their needs, not only they will grow stronger, but you will earn more money from their rent. This money can be spent on more room upgrades, consumables, or expansions (if you have cleared the correct quest).
My favourite part of this game is without a doubt its humour, and this is evident everywhere. The mascot of the game, the cheepies, and the representation of the Mighty Overlord Satan are the clear giveaways that this is a game that you should not take seriously at all. You are not on an epic quest to rule the world, ruling the world seems to be sort of a side-effect to your situation or perhaps a lower priority on your to-do list. I often spend long minutes checking what the tenants are doing when they are outside their houses, or picture funny stories in my head about how a skeleton has a day job as a kindergarten teacher.
Experimentation is key, and Unholy Heights is a slow game. But sometimes I just need a break from all these fast-paced strategy games or shooters. When I want to chill out for some time, or maybe have something on in the background while I am doing something else, I resort to Unholy Heights to scratch that itch. Too slow for you? No problem! There's also a speed regulator that you can use for when you're playing the game in a more active fashion.