What happens when you get an “unholy alliance” of one of gaming’s most cherished titles and a genre that continues to deliver excellence? You get The Last Faith — a game that takes Bloodborne’s eldritch horror and gives it a metroidvania makeover.
I first became aware of The Last Faith’s development when a Kickstarter trailer was released around 2020. My anticipation dwindled over time, as every search for news led to naught but dead ends. However, in November of this year, the game finally emerged. Developers Kumi Souls delivered on their commitment to their backers; although it was certainly released amidst a deluge of “Soulslikes”. Would it stand out, or is trying to pay homage to Bloodborne destined to fail?
Memories of Mythrigal
Pitting itself as a “gothic fusion of metroidvania and soulslike”, The Last Faith promises precision combat set within a crumbling Victorian city known as Mythrigal. You assume the role of Eryk — a seemingly skilled warrior, though one who has no memory of his life prior to awakening. His mind decaying, Eryk is determined to reclaim his sense of self. This sets him on a collision course with otherworldly beings and their corrupted disciples. The story is nothing spectacular, though there are elaborate mysteries weaved within the item descriptions, sidequests, and enigmatic dialogue. Of course, I wasn’t expecting to be blown away by the narrative and what I really wanted to sink my teeth into was the gameplay. Despite playing the game as a preset character, that doesn’t mean there isn’t ample opportunity to approach combat through different playstyles.
There are five primary stats and corresponding to these, four different starting “classes”; Brawler, Rogue, Stargazer, and Marksman. This will all be familiar to those who have played any game that follows the Dark Souls format. Where Vitality determines your overall health pool, Strength and Dexterity will be the stats that determine how effective you are at dishing out physical damage with weapons that scale along with those stats. Mind affords you more “focus” (essentially mana) and certain spells will scale predominantly with Mind. Instinct allows you to deal more damage with the array of firearms you can discover throughout Mythrigal. With that in mind, choosing a class will not affect your starting loadout, but will enable you to make better use of the early weapons, spells, or firearms and lean into a particular playstyle as you progress through the game. You’ll primarily be using melee weapons, with your gun or magic supplementing your physical attacks. I opted to start the game with the Stargazer because I wanted to see what the magic system was all about. It didn’t disappoint! I do also have an unfinished playthrough starting with the strength-focused Brawler — slow attacks with lots of damage.
There isn’t any dedicated block or parry function in The Last Faith. Instead, this is handled via accessories called “Stigma”. The first one you pick up allows you to parry and riposte, dealing extra damage whilst also regaining some of your health in the process. Similarly, beating an enemy into submission allows you to unleash brutal executions which refill your Focus gauge. There are a variety of Stigma’s to be found throughout the game that offer different benefits. I ended up using one which dramatically increased my attack speed. Seeing as I was already running a quick set up, this added speed made it easier to trigger status effects like Freeze, Burn, Bleed, or Electrify. Even the tankiest of opponents quickly became overwhelmed.
The game offers more than just intricate combat though. In true, metroidvania fashion, The Last Faith features a sprawling, intricate map that requires backtracking once you have found new abilities and opportunities for traversal. You’ll jump, dash, climb, and double-jump your way to progress and secrets. Each area of the map presents its own hazards, enemies, and of course, bosses. Progress is ultimately achieved with patience, repetition, and a firm grasp of all the tools at your disposal. Opponents have strengths to calculate and weaknesses to exploit and some of the elemental attacks you can unleash are utterly devastating.
There is of course a fair amount of platforming to be had and as Eryk acquires new tech to traverse with, the demands of the level navigation require ever more finesse. All the tokens of a soulslike and a metroidvania are present in The Last Faith. If you want the freedom to try different approaches to engaging enemies, there is enough variety on offer to do just that. If you enjoy that sense of glee when you pick up a new ability and realize you can now head back to explore previously inaccessible segments, you won’t be left wanting. If you have a lust for interesting, challenging boss battles, the showdowns here will have you covered.
Variety and Visuals
The Last Faith has elements that are worthy of praise. Visually, it is a game that is rich and vibrant — it’s lovely to look at, even in its most wretched locations. It is very obvious what the art style is trying to emulate and Kumi Souls have done a fine job at crafting a gothic world that also provides so much variation. The Victorian streets, the grimy marshes, grand castles, and harsh snowy settlements. They all go towards making every area distinct in appearance and atmosphere. However, the variety runs right through the game. There is a solid arsenal to make use of, which of course means you may want to have multiple saves, just to try out all there is on offer.
The enemy and boss design is also quite impressive. There was never a moment where I felt bored by The Last Faith or that things had become predictable. I knew that each zone would give me something different. Enemies weren’t merely more numerous or spongier. They came equipped with different elemental abilities and always seemed to place new demands on me, as a player, whenever I was new to an area.
Music is always thematically well matched with the areas and when you’re dealing with this kind of cosmic horror, it’s crucially important to craft an effective atmosphere. The sound design is very well-considered and there’s a level of quality on show that is consistently high.
Restart for Bugs
Unfortunately, the quality that is present in the audio, visuals, and variety doesn’t seem to extend to the core game. It’s not like me to have more negative things to say about a game than positives, especially when, in this case, I did (and continue to) enjoy it.
First and foremost, there are some unfortunate technical issues with The Last Faith, at least in the PC release. I am not the only player who has run into issues with a specific boss; it’s just that, were it not for a great deal of perseverance and extra time from myself, I may well have been stuck waiting for a patch before I could continue my journey. Solving a puzzle triggers a boss to appear at a bridge that you need to backtrack to. It is unlikely you will beat this boss on the first attempt. Nevermind. You respawn at the save point and try again. Only, the boss in question did not reappear. I was locked in the arena with no way to proceed… Okay, so, nothing a quit-and-reload wouldn’t solve surely? Well, I re-entered the arena and although I was no longer locked in, the boss did not appear again. This put up a barrier to any sort of progression. In the end, I had to restart my rig because even exiting Steam would not resolve the issue. After restarting the PC and booting up the game, the boss eventually showed its face again. I died a second time. The same issue repeated. A third; fourth; fifth time… I had no way to proceed other than a full restart until I actually made a winning attempt.
I got to this same point in the game on a second save and did not encounter this issue whatsoever. However, I did lose all my Nycrux (this game’s equivalent of “souls”) because it failed to load in after my first defeat. Now, in fairness, I did eventually get passed this point. However, it left a sour taste in my mouth which led me to become more frustrated with other prevalent issues in The Last Faith.
Balance (or Lack, Thereof)
The overall balance in the mid-to-late game is lacking. I see some players complaining that they felt punished for choosing a certain build over another, but I think this is unfair. It isn’t that some playstyles simply aren’t viable at all. My Dexterity/Mind build did come good — eventually. However, the weapon scaling is really peculiar. Early game, if you don’t meet the requirements for a certain weapon, your damage with that weapon is reduced. The game calculates this by subtracting from your overall damage the number of levels you are below the stat requirement. If you have 10 Strength but the weapon requires 15, then five will be subtracted from the total damage. When I first noticed this, I thought it was interesting. Then I noticed that the base damage of certain weapons is so much higher than others that you may as well use weapons you don’t have the stats for because they are still significantly better than the ones you do meet the requirements for.
Enemy hitboxes can become a real nuisance. Smaller enemies cannot be hit by guns because bullets simply fly straight out with no ability to aim. You also cannot swing melee weapons whilst crouched. Against enemies like this, I found myself having to switch to another weapon with a different arc to be able to connect. Flying enemies are abundant and infuriating. Once again, having the whip-type weapon (Nightide’s Rout) in my second slot was the only real way I could make any sort of contact with the buggers because they could fly far quicker and further than I could jump and swing.
Eventually, you reach a certain point in the game where the status effects enemies inflict become a genuine threat. For example, being Frozen does just that — you are frozen stiff and take extra damage. On the face of it, this sounds like a run-of-the-mill mechanic. It would be too, if it weren’t for the fact that entire clusters of enemies will pile up the same status. In the case of being frozen, you need to spam the attack button to break the ice. Oftentimes as soon as you are free, you’re immediately frozen solid again because you’ve become outnumbered. Whilst we’re on the topic of statuses, honorable mention goes to “Nightmare”, which is truly terrible. I’m not talking “rapid damage over time poison swamp terrible”. I mean your directional controls invert once Nightmare has been triggered. Forward becomes backward and vice versa. This inversion happened so consistently that I have to assume it’s intentional…
So, there are glitches galore and bonkers balance. I can hope that this sort of thing will be addressed in subsequent updates and at some point in the future, my qualms will no longer be relevant.
I have also seen frequent complaints regarding the fact that healing items are finite consumables that you need to either farm for or farm the Nycrux to buy more. I didn’t actually mind this at all. Farming is something that I usually find quite therapeutic in games. I get locked into an almost unconscious loop. The sentiment here though raises a broader criticism of The Last Faith that I do think is valid.
In sticking so closely to the style of Bloodborne, Kumi Souls have in the end retained things that were wrong with that game. The UI is somewhat clunky in this title, as it was in Bloodborne. Consumable farming is not something I had a problem with, but I see how it can become a monotonous time-sink. The similarities to Souls games is often too on the nose. The Last Faith isn’t simply “inspired” by the plethora of soulslikes; there are moments where it feels as if it’s actively trying to be another game. A great example is an area called “The Damned Ruins of Osseus Fortress” — it doesn’t come across as a nod to “Graveyard of the Peaks” in Blasphemous (which is a stellar game with an even better sequel); it’s almost just a cheaper version of it. The wider point I’m trying to make is that in trying so hard to pay homage to some great games, The Last Faith struggles to establish an identity of its own.
As for balance issues and so forth, they are things that can be fixed. I had enough fun with The Last Faith to keep me playing. I do look forward to where things go from here, as I had been anticipating this release for a good while. Conceptually though, the things that I admire about the game, I do so because they’re what I admire about other releases.
The Last Faith is an ambitious metroidvania and Kumi Souls has succeeded in creating something that will definitely be mentioned in the conversation about positive indie Soulslikes. Ultimately, there’s fun to be had and improvements to be made in equal measure.
THE LAST FAITH IS RECOMMENDED
Many thanks go to Playstack for a PC review code for The Last Faith
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Damien (dkpriory) has grown up gaming, from the humble days of the Atari all the way through to modern PC gaming. Unafraid to let a game steal his life for a few months, he is passionate about playing something immersive but also yearns for something to take him back to his childhood. Sadly no longer a member of the NookGaming team or creating content, but check out his archives on Youtube here.