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Flintlock: The Siege of Dawn preview: An intriguing and original take on the Soulslike

Flintlock: The Siege of Dawn preview: An intriguing and original take on the Soulslike

A new Soulslike that feels different enough

I don’t know about you, but I’m a bit fed up of Soulslikes. There’s only so many times I can be told that if I die I’ll lose all my souls, or runes, or whatever the newest games uses to level up my character. There are only so many times that I can light a bonfire, lamp, or site of grace. It’s all well and good being gaming’s darling genre, but if you’re going to go up against Fromsoft and their tried and tested formula, you need to either bring your A-game or do something different with what’s there.

Lies of P, while it didn’t perhaps set the world alight at least tried to shake things up in its story and the whole creepy puppet thing. However, so many attempts end up falling a bit flat because how can you compete with the masters?

Enter Flintlock: The Siege of Dawn. I did a long sigh when I first read about it. It seemed like yet another Soulslike that I’d entertain for an hour or so before putting it down and going back to Elden Ring. How wrong I was. And honestly, I’m glad I was wrong, because this is perhaps the first Soulslike I’ve played in a while that, when the demo ended, left me yearning for more.

It’s probably because of two main mechanics the developers have added and then leaned into. The first of these is the idea of banking your XP, which in this game is called ‘Reputation.’ Essentially, you batter an enemy without getting hit yourself and you build reputation via a multiplier. If you move from enemy to enemy that total gets higher until you hold a button and bank it. However, get hit and you lose your multiplier. It gives the player a chance to gamble on their own skills and skilled players will reap the rewards of more rep which means faster skill acquisition.

The second mechanic is the use of gunpowder. You see, you play as a sapper during a war. A sapper is the soldier responsible for blowing things up. This means you’re pretty handy with gunpowder, and it helps that a God ends up by your side (more on this shortly) and makes your stash of gunpowder endless.

It is then used to propel you through the air or move with a more rapid pace when you dodge roll. You become a lot more nimble, often able to traverse high platforms looking for secrets by blasting your way through the air. You also have a gun, of course, which breaks momentum of enemies while they’re attacking, making the combat feel a bit more fluid and giving the player a better sense of power.

Just these two elements would be enough to set this apart from other titles and make it a ‘must-play’, and it really is this. It’s likely not going to be a game that will garner a huge amount of interest, especially in a year where we’ll see DLC for Elden Ring, but for those who give it a chance I think you’ll be impressed.

So, back to the God that accompanies you. Yes, this is a world that sort of mixes together 19th century warfare with a world of Gods and monsters. Not long after the game begins you meet the cutest God you ever did see called Enki. Think of a Fennec Fox but he’s blue. He’s also filled with lightning and fights by your side. You can use him to whittle down shields and armour before delivering a staggering blow, or build up his power meter before casting a vast storm of electricity to demolish a foe.

The dance you do between using Enki’s powers, utilising a hand axe, and blasting away with a gun strikes a fine line of balance in combat that just works. It feels powerful, but also dextrous. Enough to make you feel like you can take on the world. So, while yes, I’m a bit fed up of all the Soulslikes out there, Flintlock: The Siege of Dawn can stay, and keep doing what it's doing. And I’ll be there from day one of full release to join in.

Featured Image Credit: Kepler Interactive

Topics: Dark Souls, Elden Ring, Preview, PC, Steam