E3 2019 Hands-On – Eldest Souls

I absolutely love the Souls games, the mix of difficulty, unforgiving mechanics, big boss fights, and world design offer an experience missing in most games lately. With loving Souls games, I’m happy to see when other developers take inspiration from FromSoft’s design. Not all games can mimic this all that well, some end up being run-of-the-mill like The Surge, and some end up nailing it like Ashen, and Nioh. I got to play Eldest Souls and their Souls inspiration is obvious, but well done.

Eldest Souls is a souls-like, pixel-art RPG that borders being a boss rush game. There are environments that you will explore, traps and such to dodge, but most of the gameplay revolve around the boss battles. The bosses are more like Souls games, but the action and combat reminds me of Furi. You’ll need to be quick, and learn the bosses moves before making your move. The Old Gods have unleashed a great Desolation upon the world. Farmlands turned to deserts, rivers to dust. Your objective? Kill ’em all (queue some Metallica).

The level I got to play was the opening section of the game. You arrive on an island and are taken through some tutorials for general movement and combat. You can dodge through attacks or environmental dangers like rolling logs, if you time them right, that is. Leading up to the boss, I had a little issue with the art design, as it distracted me from where I needed to go. For the most part, the the art direction looked great, however. Despite it being pixel-art, the level of detail shown in the environments is impressive. However, there was a wall that needed some work to differentiate that I could walk behind it to a doorway. This is something that can be worked on for sure, but it’s something that needs to be watched out for with 2D pixel-art.

Once I got to the boss, that was when things started ramping up to the souls-like brutality. I approach a massive wolf-like beast devouring a corpse. It turns around, stands up towering over me and pulls out its giant axe. I take the opportunity to strike first as it roars at me, but I quickly needed to dodge away from a massive swing. The fight goes back and forth for a while until I make way too many mistakes and earn my first death. And then my second, third, fourth, fifth, you got the point. Each time I’m getting better, and the boss changes its attacks midway through the battle. On my sixth attempt, I get a bit of help from the developers who tell me I need to utilize the power meter. Each landed hit builds up the power meter, and knowing the proper opening to unleash a combo with a power finish attack.

I defeated the boss after another couple tries and I got that rush of accomplishment like defeating bosses in the other Souls games. While I absolutely enjoyed this encounter, it wasn’t perfect. There were a couple of deaths that were caused by a hitbox glitch that wouldn’t allow me to get close to the boss. The developers acknowledged that this was an issue they’re working on, so I’m not too worried about it finding its way into the final game. If they can continue delivering the atmosphere, level design, and boss design that I experienced in this demo, then Eldest Souls will absolutely join the souls-like greats.

Developer: Fallen Flag Studio

Publisher: United Label Games

Release Date: TBD

Platforms: PC