The Souls-like sub-genre of games, born from the very difficult Demon’s/Dark Souls franchise, action-adventure RPGs that are as massively popular as they are as hard to play. From developer Over The Moon and publisher Coatsink comes a new Souls-like game and one that stands out a bit from the crowd for a good reason. This is The Last Hero of Nostalgaia.
The Last Hero of Nostalgaia is a satirical action-adventure, brought to life by a twisted and wicked tale. Featuring hard but fair combat, *full character customization, unique battle armor and engaging narrative mechanics rich in lore, Nostalgaia plunges you into almost certain death at every turn.
If you have watched the trailer up there, you may have already noticed what sets this Souls-like apart from others. Comedy, self-aware and fourth-wall-breaking comedy. If you have ever played the sublime The Stanley Parable with its cheeky and narrative-driven plot, then you can kind of expect the same thing here. Though the gameplay between the two titles is worlds apart, the idea of having a comedic narrator drive you forwards is very similar.
Basically, you are the last hero (unless you play in co-op mode) of a place called Nostalgaia, a video game world that is being turned from a 3D environment to a flat pixelated one as it regresses through gaming devolution. It is your job to find out why things are becoming less 3D and more pixel-based and put a stop to it. Let me sum the self-referential comedy up here right from the off and with an image. This is the character customisation screen.
Yup, that is you on the right, various and basic lines made up of pixels. See all those sliders there that would normally adjust your character’s appearance in any other similar title? They do nothing… because you are a low-detailed collection of basic lines made up of pixels. There is no detail in your character to customise. Oh yeah, you can sit there all day tinkering with those sliders as much as you like and yet, your appearance will never change. Add as many tattoos as you want, change your hairstyle, make your ‘endowment’ as big as you wish. Your stick-figure… figure will never change. If you can get a chuckle out of that, then The Last Hero of Nostalgaia could be the game for you.
Along the way, you will be ‘guided’ by a narrator who doesn’t much like you and is very cynical. You are in a game world and the narrator knows as much too. So, get ready for a lot of fourth-wall-breaking and gaming references aplenty. As already mentioned The Last Hero of Nostalgaia is a Souls-like title. What you get here is an action-adventure RPG that is really bloody hard. Death will greet you at regular intervals, the frustration factor is incredibly high here. If you have ever played a Dark Souls game before, then that is exactly what you get here, just with a lot of humour thrown in along the way.
Explore areas and die. Find new armour and weapons and die. Take on numerous enemies and bosses and die. Die, die and die again. This is the very nature of a Souls-like game. The Last Hero of Nostalgaia offers you a ton of things for you to see and do (not just dying) and packs a lot in to enjoy. Explore towns, find new items, talk to (mostly) nonsensical NPCs and more… and die.
The graphics are a very mixed bag for a good reason, as that is the plot of the game. You will find ugly and rough pixels, mixed with low-poly count/detailed environments and even a smidgen of more up-to-date 3D graphics. The game is stuffed full of (non-copyright infringing) gaming references. Final Fantasy, Golden Axe, Resident Evil and many more. You can’t move more than a few feet in The Last Hero of Nostalgaia without tripping over a gaming Easter egg or reference. But the lore of the game is tied to those references as you are in a fictional gaming world. Think Wreck-It Ralph without the licences.
Costing £20, The Last Hero of Nostalgaia is a game from a sub-genre that I really do not care for. I have never liked Souls-like games and don’t think that I ever will. Still, I loved my time with this game. The writing is top-notch, the narrator is hilarious and the world that you are in is wonderfully realised. The combat is typical Souls-like and if you are familiar with the sub-genre, then you’ll feel very comfortable here. Multiple different characters/classes to play as, loads of side-quests and a ton of weapons and items to find. The Last Hero of Nostalgaia offers you a lot of game for that £20. Just be prepared for a very difficult title with a lot of ‘game over’ screens.