The Last Hero of Nostalagia is a souls-like game in which you journey through a decaying pixelated world filled with creatures seeking to erase your existence. Obviously parodied from the original Dark Souls series, The Last Hero of Nostalgaia takes a more humorous approach in its storytelling as well as breaking the fourth wall at times. Though the game nearly copies the Dark Souls combat, The Last Hero of Nostalgia puts its own twist that sets it apart from other souls-like games that is sure to please veterans and newcomers of the genre.
We begin our journey at the character customization screen where you bring our future hero to life! A cutscene plays in which the Narrator gives exposition to the fall of Nostalgia. The once beautiful Nostalgaia, home to many heroes, is now decaying into a state of retro pixelization. The Narrator suddenly stops his monologue to see what he is working with. We are a simple, white stick figure made of pixels, which are the very thing plaguing the world of Nostalgaia. We’re no hero in the eyes of the Narrator who berates and messes with us in our quest.
Sound familiar? It is because this game is heavily inspired by the Dark Souls trilogy. We are the underdogs in a world failed by those who in power. For Nostalgia lives on the stories of heroes new and old. Conflict began when the Great Ones, heroes of highest renown and power, abandoned their duty: To return their power back to Nostalgaia’s heart and bring new heroes to life. The cycle of life is broken thus plunging the world into decay and ruin. The world is slowly losing itself and the Great Forgetting arises.
The lore & environment shows us the extent of the damage by portraying the world as glitched and volatile. It even breaks the fourth wall by directly referring to computer terms such as memory, source code, and access alongside typical RPG items. I had a blast understanding these nuances because I have learned about some of these in computer science. A videogame that teases and jokes about itself being a videogame on a computer!
Of course I wouldn’t forget the omnipresent Narrator from this review. He is as hilarious as the Stanley Parable’s Narrator except spiteful and thespian. He is mostly antagonistic to us and tries to make our lives miserable. He’ll pull stunts like summoning a strong enemy or triggering explosions at certain points. The Narrator is the comedic relief and I’m all for it as long as he doesn’t summon any trains.
If you ever played Dark Souls, you’ll find that the gameplay and UI are nearly identical as expected. After all, this is Over The Moon’s tribute to the beloved trilogy. So veterans of Dark Souls will feel right at home when they play The Last Hero of Nostalgaia. I felt as if I was playing Dark Souls Remastered again. The combat is slow-paced and tactical in contrast to Dark Souls 3 and without the “floatiness” of Dark Souls 2. I’ll even admit that the combat is more refined because movement is responsive with little delay. The game even has online co-op and the ability to leave behind messages just like a Dark Souls game!
You will have a long red bar and a smaller yellow bar below it that indicates your Health and Stamina respectively. A blue orb with the number right below it is your Access which is essentially your Mana which can sometimes be replenished when foes drop it. Memory is the soul currency that you earn from killing foes. It can be used to either level up or purchase items from NPCs. Each weapon scales depending on your Strength, Dexerity, and Source while having a Momentum stat that shows you how fast you can attack with them. This is typical of Souls-like games, so what makes The Last Hero of Nostalgaia so special?
The game encourages reading lore and backtracking to permanently power yourself up. As you explore Nostalgaia, you’ll find weapons and armor called Relics. These items are those that have lost their memory thus they have lost their power. It is up to you to restore them which could mean spending Memory or going to a specified location. For the ones that require a location, the game hints at where the item remembers it was at. It says the exact region and if you require an ability (that you’ll eventually unlock) to get to it. Once you find the area, the item quivers and it remembers its true form. This results in a minor stat boost, visual upgrade, and unlocking weapon skills similar to those in Dark Souls 3.
The Relic mechanic is fascinating because as you hit a threshold of Relics remembered, you gain a permanent bonus such as increased crit damage, decreased aggro range, etc. This mechanic is similar to the one that is implemented for Luck. Yes you read that right, Luck is actually useful now. The more you level up Luck, you unlock tier bonuses that not only let you grind for more Memory but also can increase your damage or even let you keep Memory on death.
Graphics & Level Design
I put graphics and level design together because they work hand in hand with each other well. The game masterfully combines 2D pixelated sprites with rendered 3D graphics. The colorful pixels contrast well with the darkened 3D environment that makes it so jarring and mesmerizing to see at the same time. I applaud the art style of the retro graphics while the transitioning from retro to modern is spectacular. The Last Hero of Nostalgaia is one of the few games I’ve seen that execute these graphics extremely well and is comparable to Inscryption in that regard.
The level design is amazing in how they portray the fantastical world of Nostalgaia. Each area is distinct and flavorful in its right. The beginning area is where heroes are born, next you’ll see the Heartflow Altar that sustains Nostalgaia, then you see the Oreshaft village that was once filled with life, and you should continue to the depths of the Mines. The game plays linearly but there are shortcuts that connect each region to one another to allow easier backtracking to areas or beacons. So the game does still retain that interconnectedness that earlier Dark Souls game emphasized.
Beacons can be set to have a specified warp point that players can choose to warp back to when they want to revisit an area. This is really useful because you’ll unlock special abilities that allow you to get previously inaccessible stuff. I also mentioned that there are certain locations that activate Relics so be sure to pay attention to your surroundings. There are a plethora of videogame references and jokes that I’m sure most players can relate to at some level.
Now that I’ve given enough praises for the things the developers done right, there are some issues I have with the game that I need to share. Some are nitpicks, some are frustrating. I’ll admit the game is charming at first then there’s a sudden drop in enjoyment along the lines.
Lock-On is incredibly rigid at times. The distance at which you can lock onto enemies is midrange at best. The game has difficulty locking onto farther enemies and flying ones. Of course, you can free aim certain Code (Spells) but the free aim is set at a horrible third person angle.
To further add onto the lock-on issue, the Tracking is not on the player’s side. What I mean by tracking is when you lock onto an enemy then you start to attack. The enemy moves slightly to the left so you’d expect the tracking to lead your attack to the left while locked-on. However when you attack, you are committed to the direction that your character is attacking in which includes casting spells. This means that if an enemy moves an inch to your left but you were facing straight forward despite having lock-on, the figure would attack forward. This creates scenarios in which you can whiff your attacks, this also includes your projectiles too.
As much as I love the environment, I don’t enjoy walking through the same place so often. I know that one of the focuses of the game is to encourage players to backtrack. The Tether Beacon mechanic even lets you set a beacon to warp to if you ever need to go back. However you’ll still need to walk through the same areas a lot in order to unlock new stuff. It doesn’t help that the areas can have long stretches of walking and your walking speed is comparable to that of DSR except your warps are limited to one place.
For the enemies, I found them to be mostly acceptable however they do have their quirks. First off, the enemies act passively. You might be thinking, “Oh that doesn’t seem so bad.” Well remember how I said that you’ll be whiffing a lot, these enemies really want you to whiff badly. Enemies will sometimes not be aggressive and walk around you waiting for you to move up to them. The moment you attack and whiff because lock-on isn’t working or you thought your melee weapon should’ve reached them, the enemy immediately counterattacks. The way that they’ll fight back will vary but this is annoying in group fights, there is even a boss that has this problem.
Another thing that frustrated me was how even though player movement is slow and tactical like in Dark Souls 1, the way that enemies attack and do combos is ridiculously fast. I notice that some enemies love to do a quick follow up whenever they attack. Thankfully the enemies also whiff just like you but they get the advantage of having attacks that can cover their flanks. Some of their hitboxes are weird such as being able to dodge some attacks of larger enemies by standing right in front of them. There is one particular boss that evidently shows how attacks can be so brutally fast that they were able to attack twice in succession and hit me out of my dodge animation. I am not joking when I say that for certain enemies, you do not have enough time to counterattack especially when the roll-attack is very janky and some enemies are way too mobile . It forces you to play much more defensively like a sword-and-board playstyle or even use NPCs as walking shields.
If you skipped through all of the thorough details I wrote then I’ll give you a quick summary of my thoughts on The Last Hero of Nostalgaia:
- Gives great Dark Souls 1 vibes
- Online Co-op
- Plot focused on decay of videogames
- Has its own funny Narrator to mess with you
- Exploration and lore emphasized in Relics system
- Pixels and 3D graphics blended well in world
HOWEVER, it suffers from:
- DS1 movement, Elden Ring bosses
- Weak lock-on & tracking
- Can only warp to one beacon
Overall, I highly recommend The Last Hero of Nostalgaia as it is one of the more higher quality souls-like games. It is able to take the Dark Souls formula and enhance with its own mechanics that focuses on the concept of Memory. I can feel the love and hard work that the developers put into making this game and I’m glad that the game turned out to be this good. I hope you all have a nice one!
You can purchase The Last Hero of Nostalgaia through the Steam Store page HERE!