Sometimes being a serious games journalist pays off, the stars align and we get to see some pretty cool stuff. Such was the case with a sneak peek at the upcoming Eldest Souls, a new game coming from Fallen Flag Studios; a game which I have had my eye on for some time. In fact, it seems many have had their eye on it for some time as it found a place in our latest Up Next article, detailing the most exciting Xbox games to release in July 2021.
Thanks have to go out to United Label and Fallen Flag for inviting us to their latest presentation for Eldest Souls, ahead of it launching on Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, PS4, PS5, Nintendo Switch and PC come July 29th 2021.
Now, the idea of the presentation was for the invitees to download the game to their gaming rigs and play through the first three boss encounters, guided by the developers. Sadly, I don’t have a gaming rig, firmly entrenched in the Xbox world, yet with a little creative thinking on the fly it was decided that I could watch those behind it play through the game, chatting with the developers as they did so.
But what is Eldest Souls? Well, it’s a strange beast to try to explain. Imagine Dark Souls, with an isometric top-down view, and with no little enemies, just the bosses. With me so far? Now imagine that game with perfectly executed pixel art graphics in a 16 bit style, and you’re about halfway there.
So, the scene was set for the demonstration, and the game got underway, with me sat on the other side of the screen watching like a hawk. The sacrificial lamb that United Label had put up for the demo played very well, to give him his due, but in a frightening demonstration of the game’s rock hard, take-no-prisoners difficulty level, when he met the second boss, he ran spectacularly out of talent.
The bosses all appear in enclosed arena-type areas, and this lack of space to move, along with their punishing attack patterns, makes me fear for my controller when I finally get my hands on the game. In an act of mercy, one of the developers then stepped in to show how the game should be played, and in a show of brilliance, he not only defeated the next two bosses, but did so while taking the time to show off three of Eldest Souls’ distinctive fighting styles.
The styles on display were called Counter, which relies on you parrying attacks to keep your combo going; Berserk Slash, which as the name suggests is all about being right up in the bosses’ grills, slashing away, and finally Windslide, which is much more mobile than the other two, dashing in to deliver damage and then getting out again.
Having defeated the bosses, we were then shown how items that they drop can be utilised to make your chosen build stronger, giving different effects depending on where you placed said items.
The gameplay on display was silky smooth, with a very appealing pixel art style of graphics, and top notch animation running throughout the gameplay. The way that the character you control can dodge and attack looks brilliant, and with a stamina mechanic in place, and the ability to heal by activating an ability – Bloodthirst – and then damaging the boss, the scales are firmly weighted in the all-out action end. In fact, aggression seems to be your best friend here, with charged attacks letting you close the distance to the boss and unload on them.
Eldest Souls does offer you a choice as to how to progress: you can interact with NPCs and items in the environment to learn more about the world of The Citadel and why you are having to fight all these massive creatures. Alternatively, you can play the game very much as a boss rush experience, running from fight to fight and getting stronger as you go. With plans for New Game+ and an Arena-style fight, where the enemies get stronger but you don’t, the amount of content available on launch is looking deeply impressive.
So, that was my time with Eldest Souls, and the team that are making and publishing it. I have to say that everyone involved was really nice and open to questions, and nothing was too much trouble. But that’s not why you should be excited about Eldest Souls and its launch on Xbox, PlayStation, Nintendo Switch and PC – you should be excited because it looks amazing and plays very smoothly; albeit with a difficulty that will make you cry.
We’ll be sure to follow this piece with a full review of Eldest Souls on Xbox Series X|S nearer the full release.
Huge thanks go out to United Label and Fallen Flag Studios for inviting us to their hands-on presentation of Eldest Souls.