With a market that offers a number of souls-like games, alongside others that offer choices that impact your story, it's hard to stand apart. The Last Oricru mixes both, offering the promise of everlasting life (i.e. dying over and over) alongside a branching story that, which is a big promise. I decided to tackle the Last Oricru because of the emphasis on your decisions impacting your story, but does it succeed? Read on for our The Last Oricru Review.
I'll be the first to admit that I'm not good at souls games, and normally I've avoided them because they're not my forte, but there was something different about The Last Oricru that kept me playing and ultimately, finishing the game.
Usually, the major selling point of a souls-like is the combat, offering a challenging experience that forces you to fail and learn until you progress. This staple is alive and well in The Last Oricru, and the progression of skills and equipment adds some additional tools for you to hone in on a combat style that works for you and smooth out the scaling. While combat can be a bit clunky at times, I had an easy time picking up on the enemy patterns, and the three factions having different enemies to fight kept things from getting stale, too.
Granted, I still died a LOT. That's the nice thing about being immortal, though - you can get right back up and try again.
I played on the "Dark" difficulty, which was challenging throughout, but early on when I was exploring how the decisions impacted things I also accidentally switched to Story Mode. "Easy Mode" in Souls games is usually made fun of, but I appreciate how GoldKnights approached this - rather than making the enemies need less damage to go down...they simply became slower. Exact same movement, but slowed down to give you a bit more time to dodge the attack(s) and learn the pattern. To me, that's a really great approach if you want to explore the branching story without having to be really good at this style of game.
Now, when I say branching story - I mean it, and I'll do my best here to avoid any spoilers. When the devs say "Your decisions will shape the fate of the world, literally" they're not being dramatic, because even the smallest decisions end up helping (or hurting) you later on in the story. Even something as small as giving a rat a ring can lead to having to make a drastically different decision 10-12 hours later. If you're like me too, you're going to be curious about the decisions you don't make, and that's a big part of why I actually replaced the opening Monastery area 4 times, each with different decisions - it's neat to see your choices have a true impact.
There are really only two choices at the end of the game, and I won't spoil them, but what blew me away was how even with two simple final decisions...a number of decisions I'd made had a clearly changed ending. There was a level of nuance to it, that I didn't expect, and now I'm already wondering what would be the result(s) had I made just one or two different decisions.
There's also a myriad of choices as to how you decide to play the game. Shield and sword? All yours. Smacking enemies with a poleaxe? That's cool too! Light 'em up with fire? Make sure you have enough intelligence!
One thing I found enjoyable was how you're rewarded for exploration. Each "area" has more than one path you can follow, and as you progress you'll be able to unlock shortcuts to make it back quickly after you die. Tied into that, is that each area has a unique set of armor you can collect the pieces for, giving you a full set with their own unique bonuses, and if you explore every nook and cranny the pieces are easy to collect. You can even trade set(s) in for an additional restoration vial, depending on which faction you have access to shop-wise, and there are legendary weapon pieces found throughout the world and special vaults that let you unlock the best weapons in the game.
Each area is unique from the others, from the well-built city of the Noboru, to the volcano home of the Ratkins, you'll get enough variety and ways to traverse the world that you'll keep finding neat little "aha!" moments as you find a quicker way to proceed along the paths or ways to circumvent enemies to get back to the boss quicker. There are also some incredibly good-looking views, that you might just stop to take it in.
With the impressive branching story, player agency, and unique places to explore and characters to meet - there are also a few things that set the game back slightly. While most of the game offers smooth scaling of enemies and combat, there are a few areas that had me shaking my controller at the screen, primarily due to certain areas forcing you into combat with two or more enemies at once, or the fact that some enemies can stunlock you into death unless you somehow manage to break free.
I also felt that the core enemies offered more of a challenge than the bosses themselves, there was much more active movement needed for the standard enemies, while bosses felt like a "hit a few times, back off, hit a few times, back off" repetition when they could have been much more interesting. The final boss fight, as well, is likely to make you want to give up - once you figure out the first phase it's easy, but the second phase introduces almost too much to contend with and I feel I just got lucky getting through it.
The Last Oricru Review | Verdict
It's hard to create a game that's unique and offers a new experience alongside the mechanics and ideas that players are used to. I originally didn't plan to play or review this due to the genre, but I'm glad I did because it was an enjoyable experience that made me question every decision I made throughout, and wonder how previous decisions would impact the situation I was in. Having beaten the game on the "Dark" difficulty, The Last Oricru is something I plan to return to on Story Mode and make my way through with different decisions. I hope to see more games with this level of depth to the decisions you make, because GoldKnights definitely crafted something unique.
Disclaimer: The Last Oricru was reviewed on PC with a code from the developer over the course of 23 hours of gameplay. All Screenshots in this review were taken by the reviewer for the purpose of this review.
- Incredible branching story
- Every decision actually matters
- Choice in environment navigation
- Wide variety of equipment to find and use
- Some areas are overwhelming enemy-wise
- Final boss has too much going on to be a fair fight
- Bosses could be more interesting