The Last Hero of Nostalgaia is a love letter to Dark Souls that plays with your expectations.
I am, as many are, a big fan of the Souls series. Punishing yet fair difficulty, an intriguingly esoteric story hidden around the world, and thrilling boss battles all combine to make a wonderfully enjoyable journey for those up to the challenge. Success, of course, breeds imitation, and this series is no exception. Countless imitators, both direct rip-off and more respectful developers of the sub-genre have come and gone, and even now they continue to crop up. Lost Hero of Nostalgaia plays pretty close to its source material, but does a few clever things with its story and presentation that keep you guessing.
What doesn’t keep you guessing so much is the gameplay itself, which handles in pretty much the same way as its inspiration. Light and heavy attacks, parries, dodge rolls, and stamina bars do exactly what you expect. There are a few things that can catch you out early on, so here are a few tips for those starting out in this bizarre, self-aware world of death, dodging, and dodging death.
Think about your class, but not too hard
Much like Dark Souls and many of its imitators, your starting class dictates how you begin the game, but there’s plenty of scope to customise into other specs if you want. Memory, the equivalent of souls, costs increase as you level up, but if you want to experiment with Source even with a Strength build, then there’s plenty of chance to do so if you don’t mind a little bit of grinding.
Good luck, we’re all counting on you
Speaking of stats, don’t neglect your Luck stat, especially if you’re going for a melee build. Your crit chance is tied to Luck, and the more you pour into it, the higher chance you have of landing a critical strike. Whilst the information given at the start suggests the Randomaster class should specialise in the stat, almost everyone can benefit from Luck. It’s even better than that too, as the more Luck you have, the more special abilities you unlock. Put enough points in there and you’ll get more item pick-ups and the chance for healing to not use a consumable. You might not want to focus on it, but Luck should not be ignored.
There’s an interesting quirk with critical hits, and it seems that your critical hits proc on each swing rather than each hit. This means that if you strike multiple enemies at once and a critical hit lands, all enemies will suffer the bonus damage. Whether this is intentional or not, it does promote use of weapons and attacks that hit multiple enemies at once rather than single strikes.
Sweep the leg
Those sweeps are worth keeping in mind generally as well. When using heavier weapons, big vertical slams hit hard but I found they often miss their mark. Sometimes this was the enemy dodging, which is perfectly fair, but from time to time the move forward your character makes during these attacks puts you out of position and results in a whiff. It’s frustrating to do as the recovery time can lead to significant punishes. I tended to stick to sweeping attacks to negate this issue and they saw me through most of the game quite well.
Remember to remember
Remembering is a skill you acquire very early on, and allows you to unlock the full potential of weapons and armour, giving them better stats and special abilities. Most weapons and armour have this trait, and you’ll want to check in your inventory frequently to look for vibrating items that can be remembered. There’s a nice feature that tells you how many of your items can be remembered in a given area, and often simply being in that area and paying some Memory will allow you to remember an item. Sometimes you’ll need to be in a specific spot to do so though, and reading the item description can give you little hints towards this, so pay attention to that text if it looks like a weapon you’re interested in trying out.
Much like Luck, there are bonuses that can be unlocked by remembering set numbers of items, such as increasing weapon damage, or getting faster stamina regeneration. It’s worth using remembering for better items, extra bonuses, and that tasty lore that pops up once you’ve remembered. I’m not much of a lore hound myself, but a lot of players are, and this is the best way to piece together the whole world.
If I had a hammer
It’s easy to miss places in Souls-like games, and exploring carefully will allow you to find all sorts of small benefits. Then there are the important places that you just might miss if you aren’t paying attention. The main town square is worth taking the time to explore so you can find the blacksmith in the back left corner as you approach it for the first time. In one of the back rooms of the building is a hammer that you can remember next to the smithy, who then takes it to upgrade and modify your weapons in future. As you travel through the game, interact with anvils to have him appear there for you to upgrade without having to trek back to town. Whilst you’re here, check in at the shop nearby, down the right hand road as you leave the blacksmith building. They won’t have much on offer at first, but if you find and return Easymaker keys to them you’ll be able to buy more, as well as get more lore on the world.
If you carry on down the path by the shop, there’s a trek down a snowy mountain with some tough monsters for this early in the game. Make it to the bottom though, and there’s a cave with a huge eldritch carving inside. Next to it is the demon tear sword, which is a really big, powerful weapon for early in the game. It carried me through a lot of early areas with a couple of upgrades and could take out a lot of basic enemies in a single hit, and even some really big ones in two. It’s not for everyone as it’s certainly a strength-build weapon, but it’s certainly not one to pass up.
Eyes in the back of your head
This may seem obvious to Souls-like veterans, but keep an eye above you as you move into new areas. Dark Souls liked to catch you out every now and then, but this game revels in it, having you get blown up, sniped, or poisoned from on high in pretty much every area. Keep some of those shurikens on hand, and enough Access to use them if you aren’t a big source user. Just knocking them off their perch can be enough to save you from being chipped away at from range.
More of a mid-game pointer this, but the Consumer’s Kitchen beacon is a pretty solid grinding location for memory, power stars, and green herbs. The latter two items are solid stamina and health regen items that will be essential for getting through some of the larger zones. There are 3 enemies in the room next to the beacon that can net you 2 to 2.5 thousand memory in around 1 minute each time, as well as those drops appearing quite regularly. If you’re feeling brave you can head back down to the prison cells for another couple of big knights and a few chaff enemies too to net you even more Memory. It won’t do you much in the late game, but in the run up to the second main boss it will certainly give you some power levelling opportunities.
Hopefully these early suggestions will put you in a good position for surviving in this mad world. The Last Hero of Nostalgaia is not an easy game, but it is a pretty fun addition to a pretty stacked genre. It’s available now on Xbox and PC.