You’ve most likely heard of Eldest Souls by now attributable to its identify; an homage to FromSoftware’s Darkish Souls collection that’s as delicate as a brick flying by means of a window. And when you’ve been taking note of the protection its been getting for the previous few months (some even written by yours truly), you’d have continuously seen it marketed as a “2D souls/boss rush hybrid”—a undeniable fact that the builders have worn on their sleeve for fairly a while.
A few of these comparisons have some fact to them; the sport’s worldbuilding is bleak and lonely, inhabited solely by your character, a couple of unusual and melancholy characters, and large, terrifying god-like beings that would crush you with their pinky finger. The boss rush mechanic itself can be current within the Darkish Souls collection, albeit as footnotes to sure areas reasonably than comprising your complete sport.
However when you’re searching for a sport to actually scratch that Soulsborne itch, it’s best to flip again proper now. Eldest Souls, whereas impressed by the collection like many other games in recent years, is virtually nothing prefer it, for higher and for worse. From the sport’s fight mechanics and the ability tree system, to its splendidly crafted 16-bit pixel artwork graphics, there are numerous issues right here that make Fallen Flag Studio’s debut title stand out by itself. Listed below are a couple of of the notable ones, beginning with the sport’s aesthetics.
Eldest Souls Review – A Lovely, Empty World
Most likely the very best facet of Eldest Souls in my thoughts is simply the sheer great thing about its degree designs. The sport takes gamers from grim, battle-torn citadels to the brightly lit wilderness that left me feeling each awestruck and lonely on the similar time. It is sensible, too: there isn’t any one round, save on your character and a handful of NPCs, usually leaving you with solely the sound of the wind to maintain you firm. And when you can nonetheless work together with stated NPCs, the “quests” that they provide you sometimes end in a back-and-forth between fetching a key merchandise from a selected space or boss and receiving a stat-buff merchandise as a reward.
There may be, after all, a storyline…technically. Eldest Souls makes an attempt to imitate the fragmented storytelling of Darkish Souls by including tidbits of lore and backstory to its bosses, however a lot of it’s easy taste textual content that finally ends up as only a small little bit of element in every space, rapidly forgotten as you go to the subsequent.
Arguably probably the most fascinating factor within the sport graphically is the boss designs; when Fallen Flag Studio says that they targeted on bosses, they actually imply it. Each single boss is extremely detailed and distinctive, each in design in addition to fight. Every stage can be designed to suit the aesthetic of the boss and likewise forces the participant to consider positioning and dodging. Eos’ boss combat, for instance, throws gamers right into a round stage with restricted house with a lot of Eos’ assaults taking over an enormous portion of the stage’s flooring, requiring you to handle a number of enemies and projectiles concurrently as when you have been taking part in a bullet hell sport.
This brings me to my subsequent level: Fight.
Eldest Souls Review – Put together to Die
The fight in Eldest Souls is extra akin to Hades than something, that includes a primary set of strikes that revolve round dashing, charging, and dodging by means of enemy assaults. You play because the Crusader, wielding a comically giant obsidian blade manufactured from the one materials able to harming the Previous Gods. In your repertoire, you could have a primary assault and a charged assault, in addition to a dodge that permits you to roll by means of enemy assaults with out taking injury.
By charging up your assault, you additionally achieve a Bloodthirst buff, which provides you elevated injury and likewise heals your character with every hit. On this state, you can even do a particular Bloodburst assault that consumes the buff however offers large injury. When you’ve killed a boss, you additionally unlock particular Shards that can be utilized to reinforce your skills, akin to giving extra well being per hit and AoEs when doling out Bloodburst.
Along with these primary fight mechanics, you even have ability bushes categorized into three distinct combating types: Windslide, Berserk Slash, and Counter, every with their very own distinctive gauges and skills. After I performed, I used to be significantly considering Berserk Slash, which targeted on doing heavy injury and staying on the offensive, offering bonus injury and elevated therapeutic after I was utilizing Bloodburst. Nevertheless, when you’re extra conservative, you’ll be able to select Counter, which focuses on tanking by means of injury and reflecting a few of it again on the boss.
Every tree had quite a lot of nodes to select from, every unlocked after spending a ability level earned by killing a boss. The excellent news is that, when you’re indecisive like me, you can even select to fully re-spec into a completely completely different combating type. Because of this the sport permits—or reasonably, encourages—gamers to experiment with completely different skills, Shard combos, and infusions as a way to discover what you’re probably the most snug with.
Bosses in Eldest Souls are additionally extremely distinctive, with every having completely different assaults, animations, and methods, making experimentation that rather more necessary. The place a sure combating type is likely to be efficient on one boss, it may get you completely slaughtered by the subsequent. The combating types are additionally distinct and different sufficient that, given my time with the sport, I at all times felt like there was one thing to study from every. If a sure technique didn’t work I may at all times strive one other or a unique construct of skills and, to that finish, I feel the sandbox type of skill-building labored nicely.
Right here’s the place the issues begin to come up, nevertheless. In contrast to most souls-likes, Eldest Souls doesn’t have a leveling up or upgrading system. In reality, there aren’t any equipable weapons in any respect; you employ the identical obsidian sword for your complete length of the sport. And since there isn’t any leveling up, and subsequently no stat will increase, the one technique to progress by means of a very robust boss combat is by repeatedly combating the identical boss time and again to study its telegraphed assaults or change up your play type.
Now, this isn’t an issue in itself after all; I perceive that some folks benefit from the strategy of getting progressively nearer to defeating a boss through participant progress (and Eldest Souls is a self-declared “ferociously difficult” sport). However the important thing distinction between most video games of this style is that sense of development; the sensation of getting someplace or doing one thing, which I really feel Eldest Souls lacks inside its sport system. Tried all of the combating types, exhausted each potential, examined each Shard, and nonetheless can’t beat that boss? Nicely… not a lot you are able to do moreover smacking your head in opposition to that brick wall some extra.
Even after you defeat a boss, there’s not a lot left to do besides go to the subsequent boss room and rinse and repeat. You get awarded a ability level and a brand new Shard potential, positive, however a lot of the node expertise are merely share buffs to your already current strikes (ie. do 5% extra injury that stacks as much as 3 occasions, transfer 50% quicker, and so on.). Personally, I really feel like this is without doubt one of the least fascinating methods to offer ability upgrades and in lots of conditions ended up with me questioning whether or not I used to be doing any extra injury or therapeutic in any respect.
Eldest Souls Review – Loads of Content material … If You Can Attain It
A whole lot of Eldest Souls’ issues would most likely be fastened if that they had a problem setting that you possibly can change on the fly.
Oh… what’s that?
“It’s imagined to be a troublesome sport?”
See, I perceive that to an extent. But it surely’s 2021, and at the moment, I’d a lot recognize it if builders understood that there’s much more to video games than merely overcoming an extremely troublesome and harrowing activity. To not point out, it additionally alienates a subset of avid gamers with disabilities, or just don’t have sufficient time to dedicate hours in memorizing boss assault patterns and telegraphed move-sets.
Eldest Souls prides itself on repeated playthroughs, in addition to an area mode that’s unlocked as soon as gamers defeat all of the bosses within the sport. As soon as doing so, you unlock a New Sport+ which provides new assaults for bosses to make use of and will increase the problem much more. Whereas I can’t touch upon end-game content material, the very fact of the matter is that, up till that time, there’s not a lot to undergo inside the base sport itself.
This is the reason I don’t assume it’s actually apt to say that Eldest Souls is a Souls-like sport (although what defines a souls-like sport is absolutely not a debate that I’d wish to get into). Moderately, I feel it’s a boss-rush sport with Souls-like aesthetics as a result of, when it comes to gameplay, the one actual similarity with the Darkish Souls franchise is the truth that it’s a troublesome sport with a stamina bar, boss fights, and a give attention to dodge mechanics. Consequently, it’s additionally why I really feel when you’re searching for a sport much like the Soulsborne video games, Eldest Souls might not be your cup of tea. However hey, when you’re a fan of boss rush hack-and-slash video games, why not give it a strive?
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