What makes a game different from its predecessors? Where does imitation stop and its unique style comes through? The Last Hero of Nostalgaia is very much about the humor being thrown into a videogame world poking fun at many current and past games, along with the mechanics of its obvious reference, Dark Souls. But is that enough to make it stand out? Find out in our The Last Hero of Nostalgaia review.
Nostalgaia is a dying gaming world. Pixels are diminishing by the minute and everything is becoming blocky and retro. But not all hope is lost, as a new ultra-pixelized hero emerges from the matrix dot print- ehm, ashes, ready to fight to bring the world back from damnation (or well, pixelization). Dispose of the enemies and bosses while exploring zones and interacting with NPCs, relying solely on our skills with weapons and magic. If this all sounds very much like a Dark Souls experience, it’s because The Last Hero of Nostalgia doesn’t really intend to hide its inspirations.
Granted, nothing wrong with imitating one of the most successful series of the last few years, but this requires also bringing something new to the table if one wants to attract new players. The main “new” feature of Last Hero of Nostalgia is the humour: right from the start, we’ll access a character modification screen which… changes nothing. Yes, as much as we want to modify our facial features, we’ll remain a stick made with big pixels.
There’s a lot of meta-humour as well, with the narrator being a huge presence throughout the game, even arguing with an NPC at one point. Unfortunately, I did not find that humour particularly fun in the long run, there is only so much that can be done with the narrator insulting us every step of the way. I was reminded more than once of the Bard’s Tale reboot in 2004… does anyone remember that? Well, okay, no matter.
Gameplaywise, Last Hero of Nostalgia brings back all the gameplay mechanics that we are familiar with. Stamina meter, being killed by a lower enemy if we’re not careful enough, dodging (stepping back), shield parries and so on. Unfortunately, the combat is also very stiff, which makes trying to defend yourself against packs of enemies much more difficult than against a big boss. One hit makes you stagger and with no invincibility frames nor time to recover, you can be dispatched in a matter of seconds by a couple of small enemies.
Combat definitely favors melee rather than magic, so it is best to stick with basic warrior classes. Recovering health is done very much like Estus flasks, we have a limited amount of “potions” that get recharged at the first bonf- ehm, I mean, beacon. Disposed of enemies drop “memory”, which will be your experience points, in typical From Software style, it is possible to recover them if we are killed, but they will be lost forever if we are killed again.
Granted, Nostalgaia does feature a couple of interesting new features. Like the graphical effect when we activate the beacons, in that we recover the zone around us, upgrading it from pixel to 3D graphics. There are also Metroidvania mechanics at work, in that previously visited areas will have weapons to collect if we plan on solving some riddles. Basically, it’s about understanding the right spot to use one weapon in order to unlock another. Granted, the same upgraded weapons can also be unlocked by spending energy points, so it’s nice a required feature, but it’s nice to have the choice.
While The Last hero of Nostalgia doesn’t really improve on the classic Dark Souls mechanics, it doesn’t ruin them either. If you’re looking for a hard-as-nails soulslike with a lighter atmosphere and a nostalgic undercurrent (along with some really fun references spread throughout), then you could definitely do a lot worse. But, as it is, there is not much that can interest hardcore Dark Souls players or those who were turned off by its systems, as the game by Over The Moon studio just presents them unchanged.
Nostalgia is a drug, that’s for sure, and lately is a drug that’s being used to sell a whole smorgasbord of movies, games and books. On this, The Last Hero of Nostalgia was a breath of fresh air, embracing the idea of nostalgia but doing something interesting with it, besides the “hey ‘member this??”. With more refined gameplay and a better combat system, this would have been an easy recommendation, as it is, only for the more hardcore players of the genre.
Our The Last Hero of Nostalgaia review was made possible with a review key provided by the publisher. The Last Hero of Nostalgaia is available on Steam.
The Last Hero of Nostalgaia: The Last Hero of Nostalgaia is an okay soulslike with a refreshing gaming nostalgia undercurrent running throughout and light humor touches. – Damiano