The Last Faith, which is yet another entry in the expanding “Fine, we’ll make our own Bloodborne for PC” subgenre, gets off to a fantastic start. A brand new dark fantasy game that compels me to provide my own experience points to the store? And again another gloomy journey that is drenched in blood? Another opportunity to defeat enormous bosses that have an excessive number of internal organs on their exteriors, and then to rejoice with a little piece of verbalised text afterward?
The pixel imagery of The Last Faith is extremely beautiful, and each and every area is oozing with a gloomy gothic aura. There are much more neglected graves and dripping candles in this place than there are loveliest fantasies that Morticia Addams could have. From the perspective of a visual work of art, The Last Faith meets all of the requirements with flying colours. The rest of it is about as fresh as the live dead who walk its corridors, which is a shame since it is a disgrace.
Despite the fact that the game often does things because FromSoftware (and, to a lesser degree, Konami’s Castlevania: Symphony of the Night) did them before, it never genuinely wonders why they did them or whether it can make effective use of those concepts. This is the game’s reoccurring flaw. There are occasions when The Last Faith does not possess the amount of polish that is necessary to carry off its copy work in a believable manner.
It is especially reprehensible because the narrative of The Last Faith: It is primarily told through a combination of frill-cuffed non-player characters (NPCs) and scattered item descriptions, just like Bloodborne. However, in contrast to Bloodborne, every sentence appears to have been written as if the driving question behind it was “How did Bloodborne handle this?” rather than “Is this conveying a tiny sliver of The Last Faith’s story in an entertaining way?” When someone is speaking in a manner that is a combination of quasi-Catholic grandiloquence and Lovecraftian mysticism, I never trust them for any reason other than “they’re supposed to.”
As is the case with the presentation, the battles that take place between these empty lines begin with a positive tone. In the same way as Dracula’s gorgeous undead son did in 1997, the stern main character Eryk conducts himself in a manner that is very similar, replete with a dramatic silhouette whenever he hastily retreats to safety. Eryk’s standard dodge roll, which includes generous invincibility, feels nice and snappy, and in a rare instance of brilliance, The Last Faith sidesteps Bloodborne’s boring-but-essential post-death farming runs for healing items by having a small supply of blood vials healing injections appear nearby whenever he falls to a major boss and reawakens at the last save/teleport point he passed. This is a brilliant achievement.
Following then, the issues begin to resurface once again. The counter mechanism in Bloodborne is finely calibrated, but the firearms in this game lack the feeling of purpose that it has. For the sake of this game, firearms are only limited-use ranged weapons. In this game, I will always be able to survive longer and attack harder if I get right up in the face of a creature that has fangs. I am the kind of person who would gladly spend entire games parrying everything in sight if given the chance, but the timing on Last Faith’s parry is so tight and poorly telegraphed that I quickly gave up on it. The description for this technique only says that “a well timed hit” is required, which begs the question: what the heck does that even mean?
Another aspect that is not well described is Eryk’s statistics. It is possible for me to make an informed estimate regarding Dexterity and Vitality since they have been used by games for an indefinite amount of time; but, what precisely are Fate and Instinct for? The games developed by FromSoftware are able to depend on a huge army of fans who are ready to uncover and analyse this knowledge, and then share it with the rest of the world. Because Demon’s Souls was the perfect strange game at the right weird moment, everything that came after it built on its foundation.
A significant portion of its success may be attributed to luck. The absence of that history causes The Last Faith to seem obtuse in some areas just for the purpose of being obtuse. Furthermore, the absence of definite knowledge makes it more difficult than it should be to make educated judgements, and it is almost hard to create faith in my character. Regardless of how much I would want to utilise something, if I do not know what it is for, then I will not be able to use it effectively.
On the one hand, the adversaries that I am expected to fight with these strategies begin as fascinating inhabitants of the night, but on the other hand, they soon transform into a tedious collection of suffering. Even when they are on the edge of assaulting, some individuals remain entirely undetectable. In the event that it seemed as if I was in danger of really having some fun, some of them have been positioned in close proximity to challenging platforming areas.
Worst of all are the creatures that have ranged attacks; there are a great number of them, and their spit and spells may often go right through the landscape because to the homing qualities of Agent 47’s magic suitcase. On the other hand, there are certain long-range strikes that follow the curves of the terrain. While others come to a complete halt when they come into touch with an obstruction. At the same time, there is no way to determine which one it will be until it is already too late. These discrepancies cost lives, time, and valuable goodwill in a game where every blow counts. In other words, they cost everything.
Experiencing new things comes with its own set of challenges. I had not realised that one critical piece of equipment had quietly popped up at a vendor’s store, despite the fact that everything else I had required up to that point came from a chest buried deep in some dark and gloomy spot. This caused my wanderings to come to a halt at one point.
Once I got this item, I was able to discover new and exciting areas to toss life at, and I found myself again coming up against the unexpected logic of The Last Faith. There were times when a jump into the unknown might lead to a new underground location, but there were other occasions when it would just lead to a hole without a bottom or a floor that was coated with spikes that could kill you instantly. Some inexplicable combination of the three was found in a number of different sectors. On several occasions, the bottomless pit of one chamber was divided from a completely normal section underneath it by only a few pixels, an invisible and illogical border that proclaimed “this kills you because we said so.” A fast review of the map is not helpful in this situation since it is not possible to determine the exact distance between the two.
There are probably fleeting glimpses of a supernaturally spooky metroidvania that may be found in this place. The trouble is, every time the game dares to do something that actually suits itself—close-range combat can feel bloody and physical, and there’s a lovely dramatic cutscene early on where Eryk leaps straight through a stained glass window—it quickly course-corrects back to being a so-so 2D copy of Bloodborne with too many cheap deaths to be worth persevering with. There is a thin line that separates a soul-crushing repetition wrapped up in hollow riddles from an exciting challenge in a fascinating atmosphere, and The Last Faith chooses to live on the wrong side of that line.