Title: The Last Faith
Developer: Kumi Souls Games
Release Date: November 15, 2023
Reviewed On: PC
The Last Faith: Elevating the Metroidvania Genre
We’ve all played our fair share of Metroidvania games, but the genre continues to thrive thanks to developers who push the creative systems to new heights while still staying true to their inspirations. I would say that the newly released game, The Last Faith, developed by Kumi Souls Games, is like “Castlevania: Symphony of the Night” on steroids. This is a game that could potentially redefine the genre based on how addictive and well-crafted the experience is. However, let’s delve deeper into this through this review.
Mastering Gameplay Systems: The Last Faith’s Exceptional Design
The Last Faith begins by offering you a choice to pick your combat style, which affects your base stats. You can choose between Brawler, Rogue, Stargazer, and Marksman, offering a nice variety to suit your preferred playstyle. I opted for Brawler due to time constraints and my assumption that it would make the game easier, though it likely didn’t. However, being a melee enthusiast at heart, it was an easy choice for me. The game introduces a world plagued by a demon problem, and you assume the role of Eryk, a fighter with a somewhat mysterious past. Your mission becomes clearer after encountering a strange woman named Lady Helenya.
The Last Faith takes the Metroidvania genre and elevates it to new heights
As you progress, you discover that Eryk is cursed, burdened by the presence of something malevolent growing inside him, and he is eager to understand it. Despite the world crumbling around him, he persists in his quest for the truth. It’s worth noting, though, that the narrative scenes throughout the campaign are dense, with characters not holding back on delivering exposition. Still, as the elements of this tragic tale converge, I found myself captivated by the conclusion.
Captivating Narrative in a Gothic World: The Last Faith
The writing in the game is commendable, and it’s refreshing to see developers taking risks with their narrative. At first glance, The Last Faith may appear to be primarily an action game, but after a few hours, the world-building and character development start to shine as significant aspects of the game’s appeal. Another layer of quality is the outstanding voice-over work for all dialogue scenes, despite the actors’ somewhat slow delivery, which contributes to the immersion in the gothic world.
The gameplay in The Last Faith aligns with what you’d expect from a Metroidvania title. You navigate a 2D plane, encountering demonic enemies determined to end your journey. One of the game’s strengths is how it gradually introduces new enemies, allowing you to become proficient in anticipating their attacks before truly challenging your skills. Admittedly, there are some areas that may come across as tedious due to repeated encounters with three to five of the same enemy types, but all these encounters are manageable and approachable.
What sets The Last Faith apart is that, while it borrows the Souls-like system of enemies respawning after a save point, the challenge is well-balanced. Although I did meet my demise a few times, I never felt that my skills as a player were to blame. I knew how to improve, and the game ensured that by presenting a significant variety of enemies. To evade damage, you can use dodge rolls or perform a back dash, and the game naturally introduces enemies early on to teach you these basics.
Exceptional game design allows players to master gameplay systems.
The map design is a notable highlight of the game. While there is an interconnected world represented by various colored boxes on a map, there are also additional maps, like the manor, acting as their own respective dungeons within the already expansive game world. As you progress, Eryk gains new abilities related to magic and actions that can be used both in and out of combat. You can equip two Arcane Spells, allowing you to shoot your gun or unleash elemental damage.
My most significant criticism of the game relates to item management. To heal, players can use injections, which I always seemed to have a decent supply of. However, the game only provides four if you resurrect with less than that. The issue arises when you need to switch between healing items and Arcane items using the D-Pad. To use an item, you have to press the shoulder button. During intense moments like boss battles, there isn’t enough time to check which item is equipped, switch it on the D-Pad, and then use it. One could argue, “Don’t get hit, and you won’t need to heal,” but in those moments, it’s a challenging task.
As you unlock new areas and achieve milestones, the game’s narrative aligns with the gameplay, providing a consistently enjoyable and engaging gaming experience. The word that best describes this experience is “balance.” Everything feels precisely where it should be, yet you retain agency as a player to explore, make discoveries, and overcome formidable foes. There was never a moment when I wanted to put down the controller, as even the toughest sections of the game remained accessible due to the excellent attention to game design. This is a testament to the quality assurance team, and whatever they did should serve as a model for other indie developers.
The pixel art design of the characters and environments adds to the gothic ambiance. Eryk’s movements clearly draw inspiration from “Castlevania,” which I thoroughly appreciated. The character portraits during dialogues also enhance the narrative quality, although I wished the characters had more diverse poses. Finally, I must mention that the soundtrack is simply outstanding.
Setting a New Standard: The Impact of The Last Faith on Metroidvania
The Last Faith takes the Metroidvania genre and elevates it to new heights. Its high level of challenge is met with exceptional game design that allows all players to master gameplay systems before confronting formidable enemies. The narrative gradually builds alongside the gothic atmosphere, providing an immersive experience for players. I’m unsure what will come of the Metroidvania genre, but The Last Faith has unquestionably set a new standard.
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