From the outset this game makes no secrets about it's inspiration. It's inspired by the Dark Souls series of computer games. Now I'm not the world's largest fan of that series (in fact I've struggled enough against clunky controls that feel more difficult to defeat than the foes themselves) but many of my players are and I'm sure they'll be expecting me to run this for them at some point. I like the simplicity. I like the honesty. It's not pretending to be anything that it isn't. It says what it is and the contents match the label.
The authors have done a good job of evoking the bleak atmosphere of a hopeless world populated by undead. The concept of using Souls as both a currency and as experience for character advancement is copied directly over from the computer game but this is not necessarily a bad thing. Rather than souls representing a dichotomy, a dual nature if you will, it's simply a choice. A choice regarding how you use them. You could trade some souls with a dodgy individual to improve one of your skills or you could give them to the blacksmith to improve one of your weapons. The freedom of choice - giving players some simple choices regarding character progression, is a good thing. Some more rules heavy systems can flood the player with choice and (for some players) too much chocie can be a bad thing. In this case it's not too much choice. It's just about right.
When it comes to the actual characters we have a handful of core classes - the archetyal four (cleric, fighter, magic user & thief). This is fine. Each is a simple starting point. A bundle or collection to begin with and then build on as the character advancement itself is fairly open. This is quite similar to the computer game wherein each class is merely a starting point and, in fact, can be moulded into a close approximation of any of the other classes. Sadly, in Undeath - A Dark Tale RPG, the character classes are more fixed. Only the Mages and Clerics can cast spells (or work miracles). Mages cannot wear metal armour etc. The restrictions are all fairly standard fantasy tropes and I had hoped that the character advancement system would allow for some of the class restrictions to be bypassed by spending souls to remove or disable restrictions. The cleric, for example, can only use blunt weapons. If I desired to play a Crusader or Holy Knight kind of hero with some minor religious benefits (similar to the Cleric's prayers) it simply could not be done. I would need to play a Warrior or simply play a Cleric and abide by the blunt weapons restriction. This isn't a major problem. It's mostly done for game balance (as trying to come up with a more balanced set of rules with less class restrictions would result in a far more complicated system). Still, as one player pointed out "these restrictions do not feel like they belong in a Dark Souls game". I'm inclined to agree with him but I understand that coming up with a more complicated system or hosue ruling it is likely to be complicated so we might as well play by the rules for a few sessions before deciding if we want to tweak anything.
There are a number of grammatical and spelling errors that prevent me from giving this a perfect score. Also a few of the rules are a little unclear (dodging versus half dodging, for example). In addition a handful of rules were outright missing. When I contacted the authors they cleared everything up and published an errata document within an hour (a document containing artwork and page layouts etc instead of just being a simple text file). They did this on a Sunday! Now that's impressive dedication to customer service right there.
Overall I'd say it's a good product. A bit rough around the edges but nothing your average experienced gm can't work out for themself. I'd like to give it three and a half stars out of five on account of the few minor problems and spelling but I'll happily round that half up to a fourth star as I believe this product deserves it. If you buy this game I hope you enjoy it as much as my players probably will.