I think I’m ok on alot of souls-like games, having done the main Dark Souls games, and Fromsoft’s other titles, I was called a physcopath for playing DS1 Remastered Randomizer with a mouse and keyboard. Most other studios usually miss the mark when they try and attempt a similar title. Yet The Last Hero of Nostalgaia is a recently released satirical action-adventure in the vein of the Souls series, developed by Over The Moon, for the Xbox Consoles and PC, set in a world of video games. Does this nostalgia driven adventure hit the right spots? Let’s give it a look.
Nostalgaia despite it’s familiar premise, is a horrible place. Full of lots of enemies, tricks and traps set out to stop you from restoring it’s former restored glory. The world is collapsing into a mysterious pixelation and it’s up to our nameless stickman hero to find out what’s going on, and restore Nostalgaia to it’s former glory.
The story is simple enough, and it doesn’t delve into some deep vague lore unlike the souls games themselves. Everything is nice and simple with a few twists and turns on the way. The game has a narrator who berates you for the majority of the game, in itself is quite humorous, especially when you get to the training area. There’s also a handful of characters you’ll meet along the way, these can range to some distorted pixelated characters and some who’ll give some additional narrative guidance, these will usually offer some side quests, but be aware as if you miss one of these side quests, you might miss out on some npc help.
A lot of Souls-like games suffer from the same fate, just petering out towards the end as they never seem strong enough to carry the story to the end, I did find Nostalgaia was slightly losing my interest through its narrative towards the end of the game, I got to one point and wanted to see the credits, luckily I wasn’t actually too far from the end by the time this happened, I was literally minutes away from the final fight. Which I would say is good, it doesn’t fully overstay it’s welcome, just tinkers on the edge.
Visually everything is how it should be, aesthetically it hits some real highs, with a slight pixelated presentation with a nice blend of more realistic sections, the blend shouldn’t really complement each other but they some how pop, some of the pixelated landscapes look really nice, and the other areas still give a good amount of depth despite the restricted pixelated style. Character models are mostly pixelated too, with the same previously mentioned restricted aesthetic. There’s also a lot of human npc’s along the way and these look ok, if not a tiny bit basic. But all the pieces fit together.
Map design is probably the weakest part of the game I’ve found, some areas can feel a bit bland, and some design ideas later on don’t really work, I found myself having to teleport back to my last checkpoint in order to get unstuck, some other parts I floated on air, and was also a few times stuck on scenery I couldn’t get back to the normal map. This being said, some of the rest of the maps have a good nostalgic feeling (which is the point I know), climbing an outdoor set of steps into a big chamber in a castle felt like I was about to fight Dracula himself. Some of the depths also felt like I was about to get right to Bed of Chaos too, I felt really at home playing through this.
The game has an ok variety of enemies, with a lot of your standard baddies here, though most areas have their own sets of enemies to deal with, so by the time you’re really used to getting rid of them, you’re given a new set of to learn, some of the bigger enemies have their own unblockable attacks to deal with, but like another Souls-like, Star Wars: Jedi Fallen Order, these enemies have a little quip to tell when they’re about to strike you with their special attack. Blocking and counters can be done to get more critical attacks, which can take a bit of getting used too.
There’s a few boss fights along the way, which are mostly quite good, some throwbacks to other bosses/characters. These are all pretty tough, and all unique in their visuals and attacks. My personal favourites were the ones that pretty much got lifted from Dark Souls and Bloodborne but you’ll see if you give this a try. Each has their own little spin (ahem) on these. Without spoiling the game, the final boss is a big throwback to another character, however it wasn’t for a few rounds till I actually realised who it was meant to be.
Combat is very much the same as we’ve seen else where, we have 2 attacks (weak and strong) with some small combos, all weapons can be upgraded through a blacksmith which you can unlock fairly quickly in the story, magic is here yet I didn’t really try this out as I love a melee build. However you are absolutely stacked with unique weapons, armour and shields, and a lot of these riff on other games and franchises. All the big hitters appear in hat tips to the other games, so games like Dark Souls, Zelda, Metroid, even Shovel Knight all get nods in weapons and armour, and they all look and feel great. I ended up pretty much maining the game using the shovel, it felt fast and strong, but there’s a real long list of weapons so you can suit your character to your needs.
You’re also able to “remember” weapons too, which will give some additional specs to them. Remembering weapons can be done in certain locations and will only work on specific weapons in an area, luckily the game lets you know if there’s something to remember in the area as you enter it. You could literally spend dozens of hours finding each weapons unlock location which will provide a good amount of additional playtime.
The game is full of various items and spells to collect along the way, these will help buff or protect you from certain enemy status effects, or as per other titles, increase the amount of credit you have to level up. Leveling up is done at light stations (bonfires), and again there’s your usual menu of stats to stack up on. These are hugely simplified compared to other offerings, but that’s good as does any one really make full faith builds? There’s a few other options here, but the one thing Nostalgaia really misses out on, is a decent fast travel, you can set checkpoints as travel points but you can only set one at a time and that can only be activated when at a checkpoint. Also co-op is here too, with a 4 digit number system, so no passwords, and no random people joining, yet this is only limited to 2 players, so those who want a big squad aren’t catered for here
Audio presentation is top tier here, SFX really pops. Literally if you listen to the sound of a critical hit, it’s almost something I could have on an ASMR soundboard, the rest of the weaponry sounds fine. The rest of the audio is above par voice acting is decent for the most part of the game with the narrator taking a starring role, like previously mentioned he’s really good. Most areas have some ambient noises but lacks a full audio score. The soundtrack we do get, mostly whilst fighting bosses, absolutely slaps, each has that retro yet modern vibe. The team at A Shell in the Pit really knew what they were aiming for here, and everything fits like a glove in that respect.
Nostalgaia slid onto my radar maybe 2 weeks before it actually launched, but it’s been really impressive playing through. There’s some small tweaks that need addressing, but for their first souls-like Over The Moon Games should be really proud of what they’ve accomplished here.
Those wanting a new souls-like with a less serious vibe NEED to check this out