Enotria: The Last Song is a Soulslike in the Sun

Enotria: The Last Song Demo Impressions

Did you ever feel like your life was a play, and you were just an actor reading the same lines over and over, day in and day out? Yeah, me neither. Actually, I imagine we’ve all had that feeling of stasis, of things not changing. The film Groundhog Day expressed it brilliantly. Now we have Enotria: The Last Song, an upcoming Soulslike in which the inhabitants of an alternative reality Italy are trapped in a play.

Take the Stage

It’s called the Canovaccio, which in Italian literally means a type of play in the commedia dell’arte tradition. As an aside, grab your Italian dictionary. There are a lot of Italian phrases in the game. Sometimes this adds flavor to the narrative and mechanics. Now and then, it adds an unnecessary layer to pretty common ideas.

Enotria: The Last Song is the second Soulslike to embrace commedia dell’arte elements. Lives of P featured commedia visual motifs and some theatrical references, but Enotria really dives deeper into its theatrical foundation. The Canovaccio has enthralled the land, and everyone is essentially an actor endlessly repeating their scenes and lines. You play as the Maskless One, and your task is to defeat the Authors and free everyone from the play.

Because your role in the play is not assigned, you’re free to don different commedia-influenced masks. Each mask changes your character’s overall “class,” so you can instantly switch from a tanky fighter to a rogue-like swordsman. You can also change between loadouts on the fly. The mask system is probably Enotria’s most interesting innovation.

Familiar Stagecraft

Aside from the mask mechanic, Enotria sticks pretty closely to well-worn Soulslike conventions, albeit with new names and slight variations. There are the standard light/heavy/charged attacks, healing “bonfires,” dodge rolls, and parries. Unlike Dark Souls and its brethren, but similar to most action RPGs, there is a skill tree called the Path of Innovators. Players use Ardore to open up magical doors and change the immediate environment. For example, Ardore might reveal hidden platforms or change the floorplan. Sometimes this mechanic feels a bit arbitrary though, like changing a room for no particular reward or reason.

A game in the Soulslike genre by now comes with certain expectations and standards. Does combat feel fair, impactful, and fluid? Is the level of challenge reasonable but accessible? Do all the systems sync together? Being a demo and still several months away from release, none of these are completely dialed in.

Aside from some un-optimized performance and framerate issues, balancing is currently in need of attention. Elite normal enemies are harder to take down than some bosses, and some boss encounters are simply unfair due to mismatched levels or arenas. Level design is not remarkable (aside from the art style) and enemy placement could use some adjustment. These were all issues facing the recent Lords of the Fallen reboot. It took that game several updates to smooth everything out.

Tasty Minestrone

Enotria: The Last Song generally goes out of its way to avoid the dark gothic gloom of most Soulslikes. The sun-drenched Italian countryside is a welcome change and the visual references to Italian theatre traditions and characters are interesting. The developers promise three large regions, millions of build combinations, a 40+ hour experience, and much more. It’s an extremely ambitious goal for a relatively small team.

Aside from the balance issues, combat and exploration in Enotria: The Last Song will feel comfortably familiar but with enough variation to make it interesting. As someone coming from the music and theatre profession, it was cool to see my world represented in a game in some small way. Enotria: The Last Song’s demo showed a game with a lot of promise and some common, still-in-development issues to address before its September release. I look forward to seeing the curtain go up on the final version.

Thank you for keeping it locked on COGconnected.

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