I don’t like the Soulsborne games.
Wait, wait, put the pitchforks down and stop the chants of “git gud”. Let me explain.
So no, it is not the difficulty (which I didn’t ever find that bad), it’s just the settings of the games that aren’t to my taste.
Enter The Last Hero of Nostalgaia. A game that takes everything from the Soulsborne genre but throws a whole bunch of humour and personality into the mix.
The story revolves around a land named Nostalgaia, where everything has resorted to basic graphics; a place where heroes are not welcome. So enter the hero, your avatar in this crazy world who has no memory of who he or she is, or where they have come from. You are not alone in your quest to restore the land though, a “helpful” narrator speaks to the player reminding them of how unwanted and disliked they are.
From the very start the narrator chats to us, inadvertently providing a tutorial reminiscent of The Stanley Parable. However The Last Hero is nothing like The Stanley Parable outside of sharing a self aware narrative element guiding you through parts of the game. See Last Hero is a Souls-like game and it will happily tell you so as you die for the first time, making its appearances quite deceiving.
You start with a very basic customisation screen where you can pick a class and that’s about it; you see none of the sliders work and the starting character ends up looking like an ascii stickman. As you progress through the opening level, all while being berated by the narrator who is clearly unhappy you are even alive, The Last Hero teaches you how to play the game, as you equip new armour and weapons, giving your character the heroic look they deserve.
Very much like Elden Ring or Dark Souls, Last Hero is indeed a Souls-like game. Die at the hands of an enemy and you lose all your items on the spot, returning to the last checkpoint. To retrieve the items you must return to the spot where you were killed. That is all part of the challenge; losing items, no auto save and pattern based enemies.
Luckily, The Last Hero of Nostalgaia has some really solid feeling, quite crunchy combat. Weapons all have their different perks and bonuses, while feeling completely different from each other. Too often equippable weapons tend to be just that, a weapon. In The Last Hero, weapons have history, they have a past, and if you take the weapon to where its memory was created by following the clue in its description, you can restore the memory and unlock further lore and perks along with it, like extra strength or other stat boosts.
Saving the game is very similar to FromSoftware titles, in that The Last Hero has beacons – lighting one restores part of the area, turning the local graphics from Minecraft-esque to more modern and detailed. At the beacons you can also spend memory which is gained from defeating enemies, to level your stats in a way that matches your play style.
After playing through some opening areas and entering the main quest, the challenge begins. Every enemy must be taken on carefully as even the most basic brutes can end your life. Truly a Souls-like experience, The Last Hero then significantly throws a spanner in the works, adding new enemy types which will make you rethink how you play. This is where many will be made into heroes, and many will fail. That is because The Last Hero throws its first proper boss your way, Grinder.
Bosses are a challenge throughout your time in The Last Hero of Nostalgaia, but none challenge your skills and patience quite like Grinder does. Each one you come across will have its own unique attack set and method to defeat them, with trial and error quite simply the only way to progress. Those here who enjoy the challenge will appreciate the mechanics and test that is present. Yet while the other bosses are equally as difficult to overcome, it’s the first which throws in The Last Hero’s curveball – and will be the point where some players drop off.
On the whole, The Last Hero of Nostalgaia is very good, but there are couple of niggles. On occasion the auto targeting will refuse to lock on, leading to unnecessary deaths. And during my time playing through there have been a few areas of the map that I’ve fallen through, needing a restart to continue. Both issues are fixable in post launch patches and the devs are already aware of some issues that are currently being fixed.
But whilst The Last Hero ticks the boxes needed for interest from fans of FromSoftware and their various franchises, the team over at Over The Moon Games have sprinkled in something lacking from every single one of those games – humour. The Last Hero of Nostalgaia is funny from the first step. From its nods to Soulsborne games like notes on the floor giving you hints, to its joypad smashingly difficult boss battles, The Last Hero is a really solid and incredibly wholesome feeling title.
In fact, this is one of the best games I have played in 2022; a genuinely charming experience. The Last Hero of Nostalgaia is perfect for fans of the genre, delivering fun and a hearty experience throughout.
The Last Hero of Nostalgaia is on the Xbox Store