Fight Magic With Guns in Flintlock: The Siege of Dawn

Flintlock: The Siege of Dawn Preview

Everyone wants to sip from the Dark Souls goblet, you know? But knowing what to swallow is a different matter altogether. Flintlock: The Siege of Dawn is an upcoming action-adventure title that takes a lot of Dark Souls cues to some interesting places. I had a chance to check out the demo on Steam. So far, it looks like they’ve got some good ideas. Although my tolerance for Soulslikes is pretty low, this one might prove an exception to the usual rule.

The game takes place amid a terrible war between a magical army of the undead and the human coalition. We’re fighting with melee weapons and black powder rifles. They’ve got sinister magic on their side. You play as a Sapper named Nor looking to murder the malevolent god who started this whole war. I was thrown into battle immediately, where I got the usual block/parry/dodge breakdown. It’s not long before you’re introduced to a bunch of extra skills that try and separate Flintlock from the usual pack of Fromsoft clones. Honestly, they do a pretty decent job. One major standout is traversal.

Flintlock: The Siege of Dawn

There’s a big focus on gunpowder all throughout this game. Gods, it turns out, are not immune to concussive/explosive damage when properly used in battle. So it’s all powder, all the way down. For example, you can use it to double jump and dodge. This absolutely rules. I moved in zero other ways as soon as this was unlocked. You can jump, second jump, and air dodge before you hit the ground, so I did so constantly. Black powder is also a major component in actual combat.

Powerful Black Powder Leaps

I found the battles more Soulsy than the setting and the traversal, but still somewhat distinct. You’ve got limited flintlock ammo, which is replenished by successful melee attacks. Well-timed shots, parries, and blocks are essential tools for your continued survival. You eventually get access to a musket as well, but that’s more for starting fights than anything else. Reloading said musket is a huge pain, which I actually sort of love? Those were some super unwieldy rifles. It’s only right that reloading them is slightly long and cumbersome process. Setting off the flintlock is impossibly fast, but that’s a necessary concession if you want it to be useful in battle.

Flintlock: The Siege of Dawn

Fights started out pretty easy, but they got a lot harder by the time I wrapped up the demo. I played through the whole thing on normal mode, but there are two other settings if you want to mix things up. Easy mode disables achievements, which was somehow enough to keep me from using it. I don’t care about achievements at all, but even so! I was utterly stuck on the demo boss, defeated and ready to give up. Hovering over the easy mode switch, that notice about achievements essentially pushed me to continue. It was a truly fascinating glimpse into rudimentary gamer psychology.

A Beautiful, War-Torn World

Belatedly I realize you probably want to know how Flintlock looks, sounds, and feels. The game is quite beautiful, in that seamless AAA fashion I’m quite familiar with. The audio design is crisp, the voice acting is decent, and the soundtrack feels perfectly suited to the setting. I appreciated the controls, in that they’re fluid and fully responsive. Part of this might be thanks to my familiarity with Soulslikes in general. You know what you’re getting into as soon as you pick up the controller. I’m curious about where the story is going to go from here, especially since the opening leaves you with several big questions. Time will tell whether they’re enough to keep me absorbed when the full game is released.

Although the demo for Flintlock is pretty short, I’ve seen enough to be intrigued. The Souls influences are strong, yes. But there are also several important distinctions carved into the core gameplay loop. The traversal system is great, and the shoot/slash/parry rhythm is a welcome adjustment. Plus, the setting is so much more vibrant and engaging than the usual grimdark Fromsoft clones out there. I’ve got high hopes for the release version of Flintlock: The Siege of Dawn. I suggest you keep an eye on it as well.

***A PC preview build was provided by the publisher***