- Genre: Action RPG
- Platform: PS5
The unveiling of this game did not do it any favors. The dialogue was TERRIBLE and you could die from a drinking game based around how many times they say chaos. There’s definitely some problems with the game, but behind all that nonsense there is a nugget of a fun game that could come out of all of this.
In general I’m not a fan of Souls-style combat. The deliberate pace of timing your attacks just kind of drags for me. I’d much rather hack and slash and use recovery skills to keep the combat pace up. However, this one does a couple of things that work out in its favor. The first is a reactionary block that if timed well allows the player to gain MP rapidly while avoiding damage. The second is an MP dump that increases the player’s damage and allows for a larger amount of the enemy’s stun meter to be chipped away. In general this encourages me to stay in close quarters more often than in my typical Souls experience.
In practice this combat is quite good and almost lets you forget CHAOS pic.twitter.com/9vl2Lle4q0— Dan Weiss (@schenksmill) June 16, 2021
That said, this still doesn’t feel like it’s at a point where I’m happy with the balance of it. The player’s stun meter and the ability to block damage are run through the same sort of pseudo stamina meter, so using the block too much is a huge risk. Being stunned on the boss fight was a huge risk of being 100-0’d in the second phase of the boss. That risk turns it into a slog where you stay back, chip away damage when you can, and just stay out of the way. That’s the part where the Souls-style combat really loses me.
In a perfect world for me, the block meter isn’t part of the stamina meter. You either do it right and get the advantage of having executed the mechanic well or you do it wrong and naturally lose some of your stamina meter to normal damage mechanics. In this setup the player is further encouraged to execute the block properly and stay in combat, increasing the overall pace of the game and preventing the sort of large passive slogs that a lot of these kinds of fights can become.
I think ultimately this is going to end up in a situation where I just end up playing on easy, which isn’t necessarily what I want to get out of this. I’m pretty fine with the actual level of incoming damage and the need to execute the mechanics cleanly, but if going to easy means I can get through fights in a more efficient manner, I think I’d lean into that. I’d rather just be able to treat a few things as smaller gameplay modifiers though, which is a bit disappointing.
This demo also feels kind of let down by the art style. This game has a lot of greys, which also includes the enemies. This left me in a place where a lot of the trash fights were me kind of taking more damage than I felt was practical, mostly because I was visually losing the enemies and missing their tells. It was frustrating to not have clear silhouettes, as that’s often a huge part of the experience of action games for me.
On the other hand, the job system feels like a huge perk for the overall meta game. There’s only a few classes to play here, but I set myself up around the use of the swordsman and black mage classes, and the differences in their combat pace and ability use felt pretty interesting to me. The fact that they have full skill trees is also pretty huge, as there’s an inherent power curve beyond simply getting bigger stat numbers.
There’s definitely a nugget of potential here though. The game is far better than its writing and even with me not liking this style of combat, I was still enjoying myself. I don’t think they’re really going to fix what I see as the major problems here, but we’ve also only seen a tiny slice of this game in both the unveil trailer and demo. Maybe other parts of the game have a better visual style and less ridiculous use of the word chaos. Even if they don’t, I’m left pretty surprised that I want to see more out of this game.