The Last Faith Review
The Last Faith is an unholy hybrid of Castlevania and Bloodborne, and I love it. And since I have avoided the Soulslike genre on the principle that very difficult games make me very angry, this is quite the feat. There’s a trick to balancing the endless backtracking and exploration of a Metroidvania with a Soulslike’s punishing, brutal combat. And believe me, The Last Faith has very much found that balance.
In this game, the heavily-armed wanderer Eryk awakens in the darkness of an abandoned chapel. To escape, he must fight his way through the monsters and infected pilgrims surrounding it. As he travels, it becomes clear that the land is under a horrific curse… and Eryk is also being affected. Seeking a cure brings him into conflict with ancient religions and forgotten divinities.
Picking fights with corrupt churches, deranged worshippers, and eldritch gods is classic Soulslike material. And it’s not unheard of for Metroidvanias, either. What makes The Last Faith really stand out is its dedication to the gothic horror and Lovecraftian horror aesthetics.
It’s genuinely incredible how gorgeous, grim, and grotesque the game’s world is. Whether you’re piecing together the plot from item descriptions and notes or just enjoying the gothic ambiance. I did notice the occasional typo and the dialog can be a bit opaque. However, the overall vibes of The Last Faith are impeccable.
A New Dawn
Like many other Soulslikes, The Last Faith offers four classes: Brawler, Rogue, Stargazer, and Marksman. Each specializes in a few stats and sacrifices the rest. Brawler focuses on Strength, which is perfect for heavy melee weapons. While Marksman focuses on Instinct, amplifying the effects of ranged weapons. All classes can wield anything, however, allowing for incredible freedom and customization in fighting style. Different weapons have very different speeds and hitboxes. And they scale with different stats.
Like many other Metroidvanias, The Last Faith also offers a variety of power-ups and unlocks new exploration options over time. Many of these, such as the air dash and double jump, are also key to mid- and late-game combat. The difficulty ramps up as you get deeper into the blighted lands.
Speaking of which, the game’s combat is as brutal and unforgiving as you’d expect. If you don’t learn enemy attack patterns quickly, even the first foe can bring you down in about five hits. And this title can be stingy with its consumable health items. Having to scrape them up from crates and enemies makes retrying boss fights more difficult than it needs to be.
That said, boss fights themselves are difficult, but fair. Enemy attacks are clearly telegraphed and you can clear any fight untouched if you’re skilled enough. And finally defeating a boss after memorizing its movements is an amazing experience. However, the game has very little mercy for those who aren’t good at frame-perfect parries.
The Last Faith Has the Strengths of Two Genres
I think The Last Faith is close to a perfect fusion of two genres with very different strengths. The joy of a Metroidvania lies in exploring every inch of a sprawling map, taking in the sights and finding secrets. The joy of a Soulslike comes from throwing yourself into a meatgrinder with masochistic enthusiasm until your hard work finally pays off. This game has both, which I didn’t know was possible. And it also has a beautiful gothic map stocked with hidden rooms and secret bosses.
I love the art direction in this game. The colors are fitting, the environments are gorgeous, and the pixel art cutscenes hit the perfect balance between detailed and stylized. It’s astonishing how many different grim and gruesome environments the game features. I kept expecting the areas to get same-y, but it never happened. The character designs range from acceptable to some of the most spectacularly creepy imagery in pixel games. I absolutely adore some of these bosses.
The game’s soundtrack is beautiful and ominous in all the best ways. It’s tremendously atmospheric and fits perfectly with the gothic pixel art visuals. Also, it has some of the best character select music I’ve ever heard. Furthermore, the Last Faith’s use of sound cues is nerve-wracking. Just about every eerie cry can be traced back to an actual source. I kept jumping while in various menus because I could hear monsters wandering around while the screen was up.
The voice acting is also pretty solid. Eryk’s grunts and groans in combat can be a bit tinny, but his exaggerated growl in cutscenes feels perfect for a gothic horror protagonist. The rest of the cast all sound distinct and charming in their own right. Eryk is easily my favorite, though, and I wish he talked more.
Prepare to Die Repeatedly
The game is pretty linear for a Metroidvania, but the Soulslike elements compensate by making every screen a stressful experience. Backtracking can be as nerve-wracking as exploring a new area. And you constantly catch glimpses of new areas in your travels, so it doesn’t feel like you’re being railroaded. Also, I love that the map shows a difference between locked and unlocked doors. All Metroidvanias should have that feature.
I did get myself into trouble a few times when the Metroidvania instinct to explore every corner of a map clashed with the Soulslike genre’s trademark brutality. There are lots of hidden secrets tucked away, but there are also some fast game overs. Unlike in most Metroidvanias, jumping into a pit is an immediate death sentence. And the game is definitely a Soulslike. If you aren’t prepared to screech and rage-quit at least once, this probably isn’t for you.
There’s an incredibly small margin of error for parrying and it requires two buttons be hit just right. I ended up not using that mechanic much at all. Dodging worked well enough. And it’s irritating that the game does not pause during menus. Also, I do wish you could reload manually instead of restocking on bullets at save points. But I can’t say that I didn’t have fun.
All in all, The Last Faith is an aggravating, frustrating, and incredibly difficult experience. But it’s gorgeous, delightfully gothic, and finally getting to a new area–or fighting a new boss–is incredibly rewarding. An experienced Soulslike gamer will probably have a great time with this title. And if you’ve never played a Soulslike before, this is a good place to start.
***PC code provided by the publisher***
- Incredibly difficult
- Excellent art direction
- Great sound design
- Grueling but rewarding
- Strikes a nice balance
- Incredibly difficult
- No manual reload
- Parry mechanic
- Punishes exploration