Our Rating: 8/10
In what is known as boss rush, a marathon of final bosses in which we will not find combats outside of the dreaded arenas, Eldest Souls offers a mix of role-playing and action. This reflects Fallen Flag’s desire to concentrate on creating great matchups in proportion to his team’s abilities. To do so, they employ a two-dimensional pixel art world with interconnected scenarios that we will discover as we progress through the adventure. Disclaimer: It will not be easy.
The story follows a lone warrior who returns to The Citadel, wherein the Great Crusade, the kingdoms of humanity battled the ancient gods. Both were created from the moon’s shattered fragments, but Eksyll corrupted the gods, causing a great calamity. Our sole goal is to annihilate the ancient gods who have been imprisoned within their walls. Fairly complex lore develops from this basic premise. We will learn about it by conversing with the few characters in the game or reading the texts and inscriptions. This will lead to a series of missions to finish your questlines, in addition to the excellent narrative component.
The combat system is straightforward. We have a light attack and a charged attack, as well as a dodge move and a guard-breaking move. This will be supplemented by a skill tree divided into three combat styles: Wind Lunge, Berserker Cut, and Counterattack. Unlike other games, the build we choose will not be as important. We can redistribute skill points and fragments dropped by bosses at any time, changing our strategy.
Despite this, the techniques will only provide us with a set of combat bonuses; they will not unlock any combos other than the attacks assigned to the L and R buttons, which will recharge over time. Some attacks will assist us in crossing areas. However, this is still anecdotal because it does not provide much benefit on stage.
The charged attack is the most important move in Eldest Souls, making the light attack nearly useless because it conceals a key mechanic called the blood rush. This mechanic, which involves chaining blows once the sword turns red with the charged attack, will be our only option for regaining life. This is similar to the bloodlust mechanic in Bloodborne, but we won’t have to worry about other healing items here. On the one hand, it appears to be a huge success because it simplifies things for such a small game. However, this is one of the reasons for its high difficulty; because the attacks sap our vitality and leave us stranded. Of course, because the game rewards us for being offensive, we are forced to be more offensive.
Eldest Souls Difficulty
The difficulty is extremely high, and, likely, we’ve already died a few times before even getting to the part of the demo with The Guardian, but that’s nothing compared to what’s to come. The game then comes to rely on the repetition of the combats to determine its length. Although there are only ten bosses in total, each of which is designed to last at least an hour.
It’s not just that their attacks can take half our lives or kill us – something that happens a lot in this kind of game – but that the number of attack patterns we have to memorize is usually more than ten. The game recognizes this and includes a death counter. While we enjoy challenges, we believe the game’s difficulty curve is quite broken from the start. Especially with the addition of a new game + mode later. Given the number of times we get to die, this will be a welcome challenge for some players. It might be a huge hurdle for others who will abandon it long before reaching the end.
Despite this, it never feels unfair; the boss fights are expertly designed, with multiple transformation phases that add to the frantic nature of the battles. Furthermore, despite being fast, lethal, and numerous, their attack patterns read well, and collisions do not appear to be a major issue, so everything is still trial and error. We enjoyed the boss fights because they were varied enough. Given the game’s structure, we wouldn’t be surprised if more confrontations were added via DLC.
Fortunately, as we progress, the boss fights forks more and more. This is a success because it avoids the frustration of being stuck in one fight, and we can always switch to another if we get tired of one. The map also allows for some exploration, and teleportation points connect it all despite its small size. We’ve discovered that the most rewarding part of the game is when we’re not in combat. They assist in reducing the stressful rhythm of the action, in addition to the beautiful scenarios, quests, and small puzzles.
Sergio Ronchetti, the team’s audio director, is responsible for the music and sound effects, leaving epic pieces for the battles and some diegetic moments for the bard’s character. The game suggests using a controller and includes one of the few vibration options available.
Eldest Souls delivers on nearly all of its promises, resulting in a challenging action-role-exploration adventure with stunning visuals. Only a few flaws keep it from being excellent, such as its poorly measured difficulty curve or its length, which, despite taking just over 10 hours to complete, gives the impression that it is a much shorter game in terms of content but is stretched by the battle repetition. Nonetheless, it will leave us with an arena mode and the new game + de rigueur at the end, making it extremely replayable. His proposal will not appeal to all types of players, but those seeking a unique soulslike experience will undoubtedly be pleased with Fallen Flag’s work.