At EGX 2022, I was lucky enough to play The Last Hero of Nostalgaia and patiently waited for the game to come out. It was hilarious with the most sarcastic narrator a game has ever had, and I’m so glad this game exists. While the game is Nostalgaia – not nostalgia, you’ll undoubtedly be feeling nostalgic as you explore this unique souls-like world.
If you’ve ever played a Souls game, you’ll know what to expect from The Last Hero of Nostalgaia; it feels very similar to most action RPGs. You have items that can be equipped, monsters that can be looted, free movement, fluid combat controls and skill points to spend. However, be prepared to die and repeat sections because this will happen. It will happen a lot. While for some players, this is mildly infuriating (for others, it’s controller-breakingly so!), it’s not so bad.
One of my favourite games to play between deaths was spot the Souls reference. From level designs to bosses to entire scenes, there were subtle (and not-so-subtle) references that any fan of the genre would love. The story is a straightforward concept – the world of Nostalgaia is falling into pixelation, and it doesn’t look like there is a hero that can save the day. That is until an unlikely hero appears. A stick figure. What follows is an exciting, action-packed, comedy-filled love letter to Souls games with familiar bosses and locations blended perfectly into this new and unique world.
Regarding weapons and other gear, The Last Hero of Nostalgaia has more than enough to satisfy every player. Not only that, but there are so many references to other games that it is a genuine joy to find these unique items. One of the unique mechanisms when it comes to gear is ‘remembrance’. You can uncover the lore of the thing you find to unlock additional stats. This is genius, and more games need to adopt this blend of world-building mechanics.
Don’t worry if you prefer magic powers to hacking and slashing; the game has you covered. In the game, it’s called Source (to tie in with the meta-gaming references), and there’s a lot you can do with these abilities.
How Long To Beat pitches the game at taking about 16 hours to complete everything and only 11 hours to complete the main story. While not as long as a true Souls game, The Last Hero of Nostalgaia packs in a lot.
There is a main quest to complete but also numerous side quests from the world’s unique cast of characters. The fantasy world that you can explore is varied, but not without some minor issues referenced below.
The art is one of the most wonderful things about The Last Hero of Nostalgaia. What starts out as a wonderful, detailed aesthetic reminiscent of those early Dark Souls games quickly descended into pixel art. These two contrasting art styles make such a visually interesting game to look at and explore. You could have a beautiful vista and the simplest texture on a wall. You never know when something will look 3D or be 2D pixels. It gives the world a fresh feel while playing on the nostalgia of different RPG-Adventure games. The hero, you would expect, should have endless customisations to determine every inch of their appearance. Well, The Last Hero of Nostalgaia even has a tongue-in-cheek twist on this. It gives you all the sliders but literally changes nothing. You’re a stick figure, after all.
As I mentioned earlier, the references to Souls games are strong, which even translates into the visuals. The entire world design feels like it belongs in Souls 1, and even some Bloodborne bosses make it into the game. If you’re a fan of Dark Souls, Bloodborne, or anything close to them, you will love the visuals of The Last Hero of Nostalgaia.
Some minor issues
While the combat is usually brilliant, there are some issues with hit registration in places, but thankfully this was infrequent enough not to register as a major annoyance.
My other minor annoyance is that while the world is spectacular, you can often find yourself taking a somewhat unnecessary shortcut to a place you’ve already been – but with little-to-no value in returning there. In addition, the fast-travel system is limited, meaning you can often find yourself backtracking unnecessarily to get to that one NPC you need to visit with nothing exciting to pass your time. A better thought-out fast travel system would be welcome.
Boss battles are few and far between. This isn’t a Souls game, so don’t expect it to be full of insanely difficult bosses at every turn. What is there, however, is well thought out and unique to each stage of your journey.
Final Thoughts on The Last Hero of Nostalgaia
The Last Hero of Nostalgaia is near-perfect. It is a fun, action RPG with an engaging story and a Soul-like experience. On top of that, you get a unique art style blending 3D and 2D graphics, and finally, there is comedy. I’ve never laughed more than cried when playing something called ‘Souls-like’. To me, the icing on this delicious cake is the references, not only to the various Souls games and Bloodborne but also to other franchises entirely (HALO and Zelda, to name two). It’s a delight; slight annoyances aside from exploration mechanics and missed hits, you will find yourself hitting ‘revive’ a million times as you try and prove that sarcastic narrator wrong!