Despite being enamoured by what Souls games offer, I've never been one to dedicate the time and effort required to learn their intricacies. For Flintlock: The Siege of Dawn's development team over at A44, they want to capture the fun and grit of a Soulslike while also trying to make it approachable for people like me.
During my brief look at the game, I'm told that it lies somewhere between the Souls series and modern-day God of War and while that wasn't immediately obvious to me, I start to see it. Flintlock blends theatrical, twirling attacks and grand cinematics with strategic fights that require spacial awareness and trial-and-error to nail. The team has come a long way since its predecessor Ashen—I watch as protagonist Nor and her furry companion Enki scramble across platforms scattered across pretty environments, a blend of the medieval and magical. Nor brandishes her axe, swinging with weighty force, weaving in her gun attack as she whips it off her back to shoot the stumbling enemy. It looks like it flows lovely, and A44 says that the way you go about tackling each enemy matters. Getting an axe kill will net you bullets for your gun, which you can then use to kill baddies for extra armor.
It's not just Nor who can attack, either. While she partakes in more traditional methods of combat, Enki provides the dash of fun fantasy magic. They can attack and charge up abilities to support Nor, tripping enemies and causing mischief. It's a nice juxtaposition between the two, though at the point in the story I'm seeing the two are still relatively unfamiliar with each other. Nor does have minimal access to magic for traversal, but the two largely serve different purposes.
There's another thing Enki can do: steal the power of the gods. With the door to the afterlife being opened, there are all sorts of old gods knocking around Flintlock's world. Putting them back in the place is the duo's goal, and with each god defeated Enki can knick their powers for their own use. One such god is the god of knowledge, holed up in a library. Nor once again spends time leaping along various platforms, dodging attacks as she goes. She goes straight for the god's knees, a weak spot. It's certainly got tells of Souls games running through the combat—carefully reading the bosses moves, dodging appropriately, but also feels more action-oriented.
Outside of combat, Nor can help to rebuild towns similar to Ashen's Vagrant's Rest. Camps contain NPCs that have certain quests to complete, all contributing towards redevelopment. These camps are a sort of hybrid between Ashen's town and bonfires of the Souls series. They're where Nor can recuperate, spend influence (souls, basically), and eventually build up a tidy following. Whenever she finds a new camp, that following will set up with her, moving around as she darts from place to place.
I really like the look of Flintlock, despite it being pretty far from my usual game of choice. A44 has done a lovely job of making the game look rhythmic and flowing, and the concept of taking a Soulslike and making it accessible across difficulty options is massively appealing to me. While I'm unsure if the narrative will hook me in, the combat alone looks satisfying enough to lure me into this strange fantasy world.
Flintlock: The Siege of Dawn releases on Steam (opens in new tab) in early 2023.