The Last Hero of Nostalgaia is an action-adventure from game developers Over the Moon released 19th October 2022 available now on Steam. This dark fantasy adventure gives a satirical spin on the Dark Souls games, especially Elden Ring, but with their own spin on the theme.
THE HERO THIS RETRO WORLD NEEDS
Having spent many an hour playing through (and mostly dying a lot) in Elden Ring this lighter quirkier take on the franchise seemed interesting. From the game trailers and promotional images, the game looks fun and all the right kinds of weird. If you like your less serious adventures, let us know in the comments below, and name your favourite.
The game introduces you subtly at the start to the premise. You are the saviour… maybe not the one they counted on or asked for… but you’ll do. You are reminded of how you are not the chosen one many times throughout the game. This emboldens you to want to prove them wrong. The world is falling apart around you as things lose their polished modern 3d graphics and become retro and 2d.
As you work your way through the first tutorial-like level you find it’s just as unrelenting as the Souls-like games it emulates. As much as the action is similar so is the inner mechanics like its checkpoints very far from each other and the combat system. What sets this game apart is it’s additions to the game full of humour and satire.
The character creation, for instance, looks like your run-of-the-mill creator screen, sliders, and choices but as your character is compiled of white lines these do little to alter your appearance. Your look changes through the game however with every armour piece and weapon you collect along the way. As you progress through the game you get a chance to collect various weaponry and armour which make you look awesome but also increase your stats. These items have forgotten their power and require you to take them to a location hinted at in their description to remember and fully unlock their full potential. Once you’ve unlocked them, slaying any enemy that stands in your path will not stand a chance. A nice little touch. I found myself looking all over each area, like a treasure hunt, for these areas to level up my gear.
The mini open world feel to the levels beyond the tutorial meant that there was enough to explore and more than meets the eye. Sometimes you are required to go back and forth to explore, unlock, and rank up your skills. The tension as every failure means you have to start from a far off checkpoint added to the thrill of the game.
Graphics & Audio
The retro and somewhat simplistic feel to the levels did give off a sense of nostalgia. At the checkpoints however the graphics were bumped right up to date with highly detailed textures, but only within a small area. With every new amour you find the graphics are increased and this also added to the wonder and uniqueness of the game.
The animation of its characters and nostalgic retro graphics goes game goes well hand in hand with the overall nostalgic retro theme of the game. The game devs have used the retro feel wisely, leaning upon it to justify its basic animation of the main character, its enemies, and the sparse and un-fleshed-out environments, however. The audio accompanied the game well giving the adventure a fantasy feel but easily ignored as you’re attention is focused on not dying. The narration throughout, as harsh as it sometimes is was a nice little meta touch.
Through the games use of quests and encounters that rely on you finding items to find and further advance them there’s some exploring to do. This lengthens the gameplay somewhat where you’ll need to go back and forth through it’s mini open world areas on the look out for a vital key or an item.
The game was a lengthy gruelling process at the start, at least for me, as I went through a cycle of battling, ultimately dying and trying new approaches. The combat is hard, but fair with enough leeway to allow you to approach it from a different angle with different weapons and tactics.
What a game! It nearly defeated me in all honesty. The unforgiving gameplay was reminiscent of Elden Ring and its Dark Souls-like counterparts so much so that you’d be forgiven for initially believing they had just taken the game code and just put another theme on top of it. However, once you are used to the combat and style of the gameplay the game branches off into a unique game of its own. It’s quirky narration and inclusions in the game. I found it a great game in its own right as I progressed through its quirky, low pixel, and charming environments taking on all that stood in my way.
I give The Last Hero of Nostalgaia a Thumb Culture Silver Award!
Disclaimer: A code was received in order to write this review.