Boss-rush games are nothing new. The premise is that the world has no small enemies for you to tackle, but instead you travel from one boss to another. It is a genre that has seen some massive entries to it as well as lots of smaller attempts. Eldest Souls is one of those attempts in which the main character faces off against a series of corrupt gods. It’s a tale as old as time.
Eldest Souls is a 2D pixel art game with a top-down view. Set in The Citadel, it’s been the main battleground between humanity and the gods. It is a place of death littered with destruction and corpses of the fallen humans, while the gods wait for the next challenge in their own locations. As the main character you will venture from each location learning about what has happened and facing off against the gods.
To aid in this quest the main character is armed with a sword, a dash ability, and three different styles of combat. These styles lean into the basics of your character by targeting either attacking, dashing, or defence. You are free to experiment with each one as points are not permanently assigned to unlocked skills. This, in turn, means that there are different tactics to use depending on the boss you are fighting. Some may require you to dodge a lot, while others will require high damage to be dealt in a short amount of time. As you beat bosses shards become available and these can be used to modify your chosen style further by granting extra boosts.
Each boss in Eldest Souls is pretty unique when they come to attacks, but there are similarities in how fights unfold. Do enough damage and the boss will transform for phase two, becoming more deadly. New attacks are introduced and the bosses move faster. If you die while facing off against a boss in its second phase you will have to restart the whole fight over.
Eldest Souls is a game that will not have mass appeal. It hinges on the fact that you will die a lot while coming up against each boss. The intent is to make you figure out each one’s attack pattern so you can get past them. However, Eldest Souls seems to unevenly tilt towards players needing quite a lot of luck in some fights. Patterns are easy to work out but there is still randomness involved which means that you could be doing well in a fight but something will catch you off guard. What I also found is that the dash to dodge could be unresponsive or slow at times, meaning damage was taken even when a dodge appeared to be timed correctly.
The player can recover health through using Bloodlust attacks which do take time to charge up. With some augments this can almost make you feel invincible against one or two foes, but with others the amount of damage they do negates the health recovery aspect. Eldest Souls can swing wildly from a test of skill to frustrating and stress-inducing depending on the boss. There were moments where I turned the console off due to being frustrated with a certain fight and needing a break. That annoyance rears its head again when you want to re-spec your character before a fight. If you are in the arena just before a fight starts you have to give up, get teleported to a waypoint, change your skills, and then trek back to the fight. Quite tedious.