Xbox One, PS4, PC, Nintendo Switch, PS5, Xbox Series X
November 15, 2023
Kumi Souls Games
The Last Faith is a gloomy gothic 2D Metroidvania action game developed by Kumi Souls Games and drawing strong influence from the old 2D Castlevania titles along with a hearty helping of Bloodborne for good measure. The game boasts some solid art and decent combat and is overall not a bad time, but otherwise doesn’t do a whole lot to make itself stand out in an increasingly crowded market.
In The Last Faith, you play as Eryk, a gruff amnesiac sporting a cool coat and very high collar, who is on a quest to cure himself of the mysterious curse that is sapping away at his mind and morality. Aside from that general setup, the plot takes a backseat and is communicated very vaguely through letters hidden off the beaten path or via cryptic conversations with NPCs and boss encounters. Eryk himself isn’t a silent protagonist in the vein of many Soulslikes, but he (and the other NPCs that he encounters on his journey) don’t seem keen on clearly communicating what anyone’s goals are, what the stakes are, or what exactly is going on.
So despite the plot and cast mostly feeling like a random assortment of elements assembled from Bloodborne, Blasphemous and Castlevania, that doesn’t mean The Last Faith can’t at least look nice while doing it. The game has some gorgeously fluid pixel art animations, from the gorey execution moves when Eryk downs a weakened enemy to the colossal and terrifying boss enemies. The boss fights themselves also can’t be understated, with them generally having a decent level of challenge and being usually quite fun to fight once you get into the traditional Soulslike rhythm of memorising their attack patterns and getting into a good groove. The locations Eryk visits throughout the game are also beautifully depicted, with each gothic cathedral, crumbling snow-covered town and elegant Victorian city brimming with background detail.
The combat and general gameplay of The Last Faith will feel very familiar to fans of 2D Metroidvania/Soulslike platformers. Combat is a mostly hack-and-slash affair, with Eryk being able to equip a variety of melee weapons including swords, whips and scythes, along with some guns and magic spells for ranged options. While it lacks Bloodborne’s specific gun-centric Visceral Attack feature, it does include a (somewhat unreliable) parry maneuver which, when successfully executed, can restore Eryk’s health and mana points. Defeating enemies rewards the player with Nycrux, which can be invested in improving Eryk’s stats or spent on new items or weapon upgrades.
“…the game’s solid foundation is undermined by many tiny annoyances…”
There’s a solid foundation that The Last Faith’s gameplay is built upon, and when it works, it’s great. Eryk’s dodge and sidestep moves feel very responsive, which made rolling out of the way of a deadly attack feel thrilling. The variety of spell and weapon types on display, and decent diversity in builds via the game’s RPG mechanics, gives the player plenty of options for how to slice their way through the hordes of foes in their way. Eryk can also teleport between save points from the very start of the game, making getting around the map to backtrack very straightforward. Unfortunately, the game’s solid foundation is undermined by many tiny annoyances that combine to make The Last Faith a more frustrating experience than it could have been.
Healing Injections, the game’s main healing item, don’t restore when you rest at a save point. They instead must be purchased from a vendor like any other consumable, in a similar fashion to how Bloodborne did it. Although the vendors have an unlimited supply and Healing Injections don’t inflate in price very much as the game progresses, they aren’t dropped very often by enemies, resulting in a frequent and annoying commute back to the hub area to restock. Perhaps even worse is the mindless grinding in between attempts at a tough boss just to afford healing items again for the next time. In addition, status effects such as Burning and Frozen are debilitating and potential death sentences depending on when you get infected by a trap or enemy attack, and the healing items for those are dropped infrequently and sold in only limited supply by the main vendor. This made enemies who could inflict these status effects far more irritating and challenging than they needed to be.
Another bugbear of the game is an oversupply of flying enemies with limited means of dealing with them. Eryk can only attack directly in front of himself, with only a handful of special attacks and spells able to attack upwards to deal with them. As a result, the areas infested with flying foes became particularly troublesome, especially in the game’s later areas where they can also virtually insta-kill you with frost beams while hovering just outside of your reach.
The parry mechanic is also poorly explained, and there doesn’t seem to be a clear distinction between the kinds of enemy attacks that can be parried and the ones that can’t. This felt particularly egregious during the challenging boss fights, where my efforts to parry virtually anything to keep my health up after running low on healing items came to naught and eventually led me to just give up bothering to try most of the time. Also, for whatever reason, the game doesn’t pause the action when you bring up the menu to review the world map or change Eryk’s equipment. There’s not even the ostensible justification of FromSoftware’s games of having multiplayer functionality.
The platforming in The Last Faith also felt noticeably uneven. How close Eryk needed to be to a ledge in order to grab it felt inconsistent, leading to many, many death falls inches from a ledge that he looked close enough to rub his nose on. Furthermore, whether a pit is the entrance to a new area or a bottomless void sending you back to your last checkpoint is not clearly indicated at all. Even the map sometimes misleadingly makes it seem like one area flows into another vertically, or makes it seem like a pit should land in a different area rather than killing you.
I at least appreciated the game’s many incentives to venture off the beaten path. The Last Faith boasts many hidden weapons, spells and sidequests for those keen to explore. While you can expect the guidance for precisely where to go next or what to do with many of the game’s optional collectables to be obfuscated behind The Last Faith’s trademark vague storytelling, I did appreciate the ability to annotate the game map with icons of your choice to identify the locations of bosses, key NPCs and other objectives as a way for players to assist in orienting themselves throughout the experience.
- Gorgeous and appropriately gloomy landscapes to explore
- Beautifully fluid attack animations and generally fun combat in general
- Labyrinthine and expansive world with plenty of secrets to uncover
- Some genuinely cool and fearsome boss fights
- Narrative feels underbaked and needlessly vague
- Healing item system adds an annoying commute and grind between boss fight attempts
- Many irritating minor elements of combat dragged the experience down
- Platforming feels stiff and unenjoyable
Despite many issues dragging down the experience, I would not say that I had a bad time overall with The Last Faith. The combat is genuinely thrilling and impressively varied when it functions well, and I was impressed with many of the game’s locations, boss fights, puzzles and enemy designs. However, The Last Faith feels like a particularly inelegant mixture of many different elements from popular Metroidvanias and Soulslikes without quite executing them as neatly. With its obtuse-for-the-sake-of-it narrative, occasionally stodgy combat and platforming elements and a lack of its own identity, Metroidvania fans will have an enjoyable enough time with The Last Faith, but there are better examples of what it has attempted to execute out there.