- Developer: Fallen Flag Studios
- Publisher: United Label
- Release Date: 29/7/20201
- Price: $19.99 / £16.99
- Review code provided by United Label
Introducing Eldest Souls Switch Review
I feel I have said this many times before, but you really shouldn’t trust what you read on the internet. Before diving into Eldest Souls, I wanted to know what I was getting into. I had followed the game a bit, but over the past few months, my life has been flipped on its head and before I knew it, it released. I knew that it was going to be an isometric souls-like boss-rush style game and I was fine with that. Ten bosses with branching skill trees, it all sounded great. I assumed it would be a short game to tackle over the period of a few gaming sessions. Ten hours and 265 deaths later, I will attest that this was not the game I expected it to be.
The narrative begins with a sect of cruel gods enslaving humanity. Slowly, humans found a way to free themselves and stuff the insufferable deities in the Citadel. After being imprisoned there, desolation ravages the land and war breaks out. A lone warrior appears carrying a sword that Guts and Cloud would envy, but is it enough?
Just like other games in the Souls style, story is found piecemeal throughout the game in the form of notes, letters, and NPCs. I’m still not quite sure of the inner workings of the story, but I did find the interactions with the few living beings in the world to be fun. A bard appears early on with a broken instrument, find a string on the battlefield and he will give you an item. The same goes for the blacksmith, alchemist, etc. The side quests present here do not require much of anything other than a bit of exploration.
Find something unique? Talk to various characters until one mentions what you have in your inventory. There is a quest that is more open-ended and requires the player to make a choice between several different factions. Upon making said choice, your other options are gone forever, or until you do a new game plus. Not much of this was explained and I must figure it out through trial and error. Just like the big souls-like games; love it or hate it.
Games in this genre live or die off their mechanics and thankfully, Eldest Souls has the basics down. The main character moves well enough, and the dodges feel quick and snappy. The attacks can tend to feel a bit slow when coming out, especially the heavy ones. It could be because your character is carrying a blade large enough to rival the Buster Sword and therefore would cause even light attacks to be slow on the draw. Aside from your basic light and heavy attacks, a charge attack is also available that can be used to place your character into a bloodlust state. When this is activated, any damage done to the enemies will replenish your health.
If you are someone like me, this tactic is THE most important aspect of the game as I was constantly on death’s door as the bosses of Eldest Souls show no quarter. Unlike other titles in the souls’ style, there are no levels and grinding isn’t possible. What this leaves is something closer to old school action games in which memorization of patterns is the only way to conquer the game. Each boss throughs even more complex patterns and other little snares that will have you cursing the screen for hours on end. Upon beating a boss, you are rewarded with its soul and a skill point which can be used to change the style of your character.
One huge gripe I have with this title is the fact that nowhere did it mention that you can re-spec your character with no penalties. It’s possible I missed it, but I had to stumble on it by clicking around the menu. There are three main skill trees, speed, power, and counter. Speed gives you more agility and quicker attacks that can use projectiles but are weaker. Power is slower but can be quite devastating with the right set up. Counter is just like the name says, it allows you to play slower and hit the enemy while keeping up your guard.
Slow But Steady Souls
I do have some gripes with the games combat as it can feel like all the enemies can do more leaps and bounds faster than you can. This seems to be a standard, but even if you are timing your dodges perfectly, it felt like the enemy could simply attack again. I very well could have been playing the game wrong or not timing my dodges right, but it still felt so frustrating fighting the Deer God boss over and over until my eyes bleed. Speaking of this boss, I am almost positive around 100 deaths were due to it.
Another issue I have deals with the final boss. With a game that was constantly setting the bar higher with each new fight, I found the end battle to be extremely underwhelming. It was a multiple stage fight and normally when a fight like this occurs, I could see the upwards of 20-30 deaths easily. Lo and behold I conquered the final boss after a few minutes. I was speechless that I beat it so quickly. While a more challenging playthrough unlocks after beating the game, its safe to say that I doubt I would have any patience to give it another go just to see if the final boss is that much stronger the next go around.
The character designs, especially the bosses were superb! Each one has a very unique look and animates so incredibly well. I wish there were more to see, even though it would have been the death of me if there were more bosses in this game (well at least 100 more deaths, give or take). The environments were lush, and it’s easy to tell that the pixel artists took pride in all their work.
The music and sound design fit the standard souls’ fair. The music was epic, with horns and drums. Maybe a bit too much drumming as I noticed some tracks featured far more drums that I would expect. Some will love it, I liked it, but could do without it.
During my ten-hour pilgrimage with Eldest Souls, I played primarily in handheld mode without much of a hitch. I felt that some of my moves felt delayed, especially during some of the more hectic fights. When playing in TV mode, I didn’t experience any such delays. I did prefer to play in TV mode, but with a young child and a full-time job, I found most of my time to play was late at night before going to sleep.
Eldest Souls tries hard to be something unique in a world that is filled with many clones and copies. It does many things right as the world building and gorgeous pixel art build a universe that has seen many tragedies but still exists through pain and turmoil. On the other hand, the combat feels like it is on the cusp of being perfect, but it never felt like I reached true mastery, but just stumbled across the finish line somehow. If you are someone who loves games that are made to bust your chops, for the value, look no further. If you are someone that wants to unwind with games after a long day, maybe give this one a pass.
- Fantastic Pixel Art Enemies and World
- Being Able to Re-Spec Your Character At Will
- Replayability for the Masochists
- Dodging Feels Imperfect
- Final Boss Was A Let Down