Developer: Fallen Flag Studio
Publisher: United Label
Genre(s): Action, Adventure, Role-Playing
Platform: Nintendo Switch (also available on PlayStation, Xbox, and PC)
Age Rating: PEGI 16
Release Date: 29/07/2021
A code was provided for review purposes
Eldest Souls is a strenuous boss rush title. I played as a cloaked hero and slashed my obsidian sword through a plethora of voracious opponents. As humanities last hope, I struggled through tenacious opponents and fought for my life. Is this game worth fighting for? Find out in this Rapid Review.
A tale of ancient times
To immerse me into the world of Eldest Souls, the developers showed the desolation caused by these gods. They detailed how barren the world felt, showed what the world could have been, and highlighted the obsidian slab as a beacon of hope. Immediately I was given a purpose: to slay the corrupt gods. However, as time went on, the slaughter of these enemies left a negative effect on the world. Some characters hint at the change that emerges without these deities. This continuous contradiction was a great segue into the strenuous boss fights. I challenged my own moral indecision as I progressed through the game. While I would not purchase the game for the story, I thought it supplemented the gameplay very nicely.
I’m my own boss
More importantly, I enjoyed Eldest Souls’ gameplay. It is a boss rush game, so I fought my way through unique bosses and mastered their patterns. It is a difficult game. There were no accessibility settings related to difficulty, so if you do not like difficult challenges, it may not be for you. Regardless, there are plenty of interesting elements here for someone with perseverance to experience.
One of the most important characteristics in Eldest Souls is that the protagonist is very slow. Even though at first it was difficult to get used to, I quickly found myself enjoying the pace of the game, especially because the bosses were all tailored to my skill set. My attacks were hefty, and it was very satisfying to land blows on my opponents. To counteract the sluggish movement, I leveraged a charge attack that propels me forwards and a dashing ability. The charge attack took time for me to charge while the dashing ability had stamina, so neither was without its drawbacks. Each decision I made had weight. These additional movement options substantially enhanced my experience. I liked learning when to dash through an obstacle, when to charge my strong blows, and when to simply walk away.
Though the movement in Eldest Souls is rewarding, it would not stand on its own without precise combat. Luckily, the developers delivered. There is a very simple system that shapes the core gameplay experience. Dealing damage with a charge attack brings out your bloodlust. In this mode, my attacks do more damage, my sword glows a gorgeous red colour, and I heal when dealing damage to enemies. I had a great time mastering these intricacies. I felt the healing aspect was a great touch. In many boss-rush games, if I take damage at the beginning of the fight, I usually restart because there is little hope for my success. On the contrary, I did not find myself doing that while playing Eldest Souls. I always could deal enough damage to enemies to restore my health, so I was never truly out until I died. I found these elements rewarding.
In addition to the bloodlust system, the developers of Eldest Souls included a skill tree and customizable abilities that come from defeating bosses. I could choose between three different archetypes. I found they did not vastly change my playstyle, but it was nice to have. The ability I primarily chose was the counter. When charged, I could stay within close range of my enemies without too much risk. There were other abilities as well, but those were mainly just attacks. Whichever class I chose granted me access to their skill tree of upgrades. This could be changed at any time and was yet another layer of depth in the title. Though the game incentivizes reacting to the boss patterns and using specific abilities to counteract each boss, I was successful without switching strategies. Even still, the options were great, and I was glad they were there.
Just a phase
All these options are great, but Eldest Souls still needs to have rewarding boss fights to be complete. Thankfully, there are plenty of great fights. Each boss had their own personality, and it was interesting how they were shown through the boss designs and attacks. At the same time, no two fights felt the same. Each one had its own personality. Most importantly, each attack was telegraphed well. I always felt it was my fault when I died. It was never overly punishing. Each fight has multiple phases as well. Though many times they are like the first one, these new patterns or alternate forms are both refreshing and like the previous stages. The boss fights are the highlight of the game.
There are also some minor exploration elements. There are non-playable characters to talk with, locations to explore, and lore to uncover. I did not find myself immersed in it though. These exploration-based incentives generally only required I explore the map instead of fighting in combat. If you are looking for expansive world-building, I recommend that you look elsewhere. Regardless, they were nice inclusions to have.
To supplement the gameplay, there are gorgeous visuals. When watching the trailer, the visuals look solid. However, they do not truly shine until the game is booted up. I was continually blown away by stunning scenery and vicious enemies. These clear visuals helped with enemy telegraphs as well. I was really impressed with the visuals.
The sound effects and music tracks, while not nearly as special were also pleasant. They were ethereal and truly established the scene for this title. Fighting gods to this music was very fitting. The atmosphere was very distinct, and it worked well. Both the visuals and sound design were of high quality.
Overall, Eldest Souls focuses on tough but rewarding gameplay with precise movement, distinct enemy telegraphs, and easy respawns. I really enjoyed fighting my way through these tough enemies, and it was extremely rewarding when I did. If you do not mind a bit of challenge, Eldest Souls is an excellent title to pick up.
Rapid Reviews Rating
4.5 out of 5
You can purchase Eldest Souls on the Nintendo eShop here
You can find and read our reviews on OpenCritic.