Preview: The Last Faith

2023-10-31 by Callum Andrews

If Bloodborne and Blasphemous had a baby

My favourite genre in the last 13 years of playing games has been the soulsborne genre. Ever since I tried Demon Souls back in 2010 I've been gobbling up almost every game that's even been in the ballpark of being a soulsborne game. But like I said it's "almost" every game. Because ever since Dark Souls became the breakout hit that it did (thanks to Demon Souls paving the way and a game that deserves way more credit than it's gotten). There's been a literal avalanche of games trying to replicate From Software formula in one way or another.

Because, when it comes to this subgenre of games, From Softwares games are the standard that all these other games are held against. There are very few occasions where these games have even come close to reaching the greatness that are From Software Souls games. However, this doesn't deter developers from trying. This isn't to say that all of From Softwares games have been great and there have been a few stumbles here and there. Which games this would be applicable to is up for debate and you'd probably get some varying answers. Still, there is one game that is considered to be one of the best if not the best souls games by almost the entire Soulsborne community. That game is Bloodborne. It's one of From Software's most unique and accomplished creations that even they themselves have had a hard time surpassing (this might also be a reason why we still haven't created a sequel).

Nevertheless, considering how great this game is, it's a wonder then that there haven't been any attempts to at least copy it. Until now, enter "The Last Faith". A 2D Metroidvania set in a gothic environment focused on exploration and unforgiving soulsborne combat, that is the creation of Kumi Souls Games. Who up to this point had developed a 2D mobile game called Ninja Knight for Andriod mobiles. Making The Last Faith their most ambitious project yet.

This looks very familiar

During my brief time with the game, I got to play the character Eric, who in the description of the game is referred to as the main character. Not really sure what's meant by this considering that there will be up to four different playable classes once the game is released. In the demo, he was the only playable character. Even though it looked like the mage class was selectable once I selected it I still got Eric. He represents the "fighter class" in the character selection in which you also have what seems to be a mage class, rogue class and a marksman class. Eric is initially equipped with a sword an axe and a pistol.

One interesting thing of note is that the weapon setup is very much like the one in Bloodborne. While I wasn't able to asses whether the gun is mainly used for parrying as it was quite effective at dealing damage to enemies. More so than the guns you wielded in Bloodborne. Another interesting thing is that the player is also able to possess magic which is something almost non-existent in Bloodborne. The game will surely offer a great deal of choices when it comes to the various ways of dispatching enemies. Apart from the regular attacks that the player will be able to use, each weapon also has a secondary attack which the player will be able to utilize to varying effect. All this in combination with guns and magic will surely open up a great deal of options in build variety and it'll be interesting to see which eventually become meta.

When it comes to the other side of combat, namely the part when you are defending. The mechanics are the same here as they are in the game's inspiration. There seems to be no way in which the player can block any damage but rather try to dodge it or deflect it. This of course will require some practice to get used to and the time I spent with the game was too brief for me to get accustomed to it. I didn't even manage to get accustomed to Bloodborne's parrying system until my second playthrough. Which also made the game a lot easier once I got the hang of it. Parrying will open up enemies to attacks that will deal great damage to enemies but will also restore some health to the player provided they are able to connect an attack after a parry.

Storywise, the game doesn't give away too much. Rather it's all par for the course when it comes to these types of games. It leaves it up to the player to figure it out. There have been occasions when I've played some Soulsborne games where I felt that they took it a bit too far in their obfuscation regarding the story. Such was the case for Blasphemous and Mortal Shell. If I hadn't looked up wikis and YouTube videos for these game stories I surely wouldn't have figured out what these games were about. And honestly I still to this day don't get what the plot of Mortal Shell was. Still, something that many games belonging to the souls-borne genre can do quite well apart from providing a satisfying challenge. Is that the developers are able to craft a great world that oozes with atmosphere? Even if you don't get it all it still manages to pull you in thanks to the environments, various item descriptions and characters. This is true for both of the previously mentioned games but also for this one. I just hope the story for this one will be somewhat more explicit than how it is otherwise presented in most other games in this genre.

The similarities are skin deep

While there is nothing wrong with taking inspiration from something that many consider to be great. There also needs to be something that distinguishes your work from the one that is your inspiration. One thing that always annoyed me with Bloodborne was the game's healing system. The reason for this is that I've never liked grinding in games. It's a huge timesink and something that too many games both nowadays and even before use as padding. But it was necessary in Bloodborne because of how its healing system worked. You only had a set amount of blood vials (healing potions for those of you who haven't played it) and once they were gone then they were gone. So say you go in to fight a boss and you use up all your healing and you die. The only way to have these healing potions back again was for you to go back into an area and farm them. Being a person who had put in more than 100 hours in Bloodborne I eventually learned where the best spot to farm these was. However, it didn't take away from my annoyance. Sadly The Last Faith seems to be implementing the same type of healing system. Where you only get a set amount of healing potions and once you're out you need to go out and farm for more. During my playthrough, it didn't seem to me that the game was set up in a manner where these potions were dropped regularly. Also, I wasn't able to figure out if there was any spot I could be in to farm them. Because once I reached the demos final boss. Things started to get hairy. Before the game's release, I really hope the developers rethink their strategy in how they want to implement the healing mechanic or at least make healing potion drops more frequent.

Speaking of the boss it sure reminded me of the "first" (depending on how you end up playing) boss of Bloodborne. The Cleric Beast, where even this boss had one huge arm and another relatively tiny one. It was fairly challenging and took some time to get the hang of as any good soulsborne boss should be. He had 3-4 varying movesets which made me question whether there would be more to his attack pattern than what was initially presented. And once I "defeated him" his entire lifebar refilled and he got into his second form. I don't need to type what I said but you can imagine what it might have been. Having a boss health bar refill after beating it once is like running a marathon and reaching the goal line only to be told that you need to run the same distance again to reach the "true" goal line. I've always hated this type of boss design, ALWAYS! To me, it's just a lazy way of making the game artificially harder. From Software has done this only for a handful of its bosses but considering all the bosses they've put forward in their games I would consider it a minor oversight. When you on the other hand do it for every boss in a single game and it's also one of the first ones then again it just falls under bad boss design. Hopefully, this is something that gets reconsidered and they change it so that the boss changes into their second phase at maybe 50% health. Just don't give me a second phase with a wholly replenished health bar.

Don't get me wrong I'm not trying to say that the game should be like Bloodborne or any of the other From Software Souls games. However, if the developers are set on replicating those games in some form or another then try to think of improving upon that you are taking inspiration from. I understand that developer vision and player feedback do occasionally clash but I also believe that a middle ground can be a good approach. In the end, though I truly hope this game does well and in my eyes, it feels like it could be a breakout hit or if not that a cult classic. It releases on Playstation, Xbox, Switch and PC on November 15.