STAFF REVIEW of Last Hero of Nostalgaia, The (Xbox One)


Friday, November 18, 2022.
by Adam Dileva

Last Hero of Nostalgaia, The Box art I feel I need to come clean at the beginning of this review. I generally don’t enjoy Soulslike games. I know I know, I’ve heard it many times before; ‘Git Gud’. I don’t enjoy the difficult challenge, the respawning enemies and the repeated attempts to finally make progress. That said, I’ve played quite a few Soulslike’s, and even though it’s not my genre of choice, I can appreciate why many do enjoy them and there’s even been a few that I didn’t hate the whole way through. The Last Hero of Nostalgaia was one of those, keeping me interested due to its satirical take on a Soulslike and the constant gaming references and fan service. I’m a sucker for parodies, so when The Last Hero of Nostalgaia had my chuckling from its first moments, I couldn’t help but smile.

Something is happening to the world of Nostalgaia, as if it’s collapsing on itself or going back in time, turning back into pixels. You see, The Last Hero of Nostalgaia is very self-aware of what it is, knowing it’s a game and never takes itself too seriously. As the world is self-destructing, you’re are Nostalgaia’s last hope, but you’re simply a lowly stick figure, how can you help this world? As you fight through this unforgiving world, you not only have to contend with all of the enemies that stand in your way, but be constantly berated by a cynical narrator that always has a handful of one-liners that will surely get a chuckle or two out of you.

It seems that killing Great Ones, the bosses, is somehow restoring the world to its former glory, slowly but surely, or at least slowing down the destruction of the world. With a much lighter hearted take on a usually serious genre, expect plenty of fourth wall breaking and plenty of pop culture and gaming references along the way. The narrator gives a humorous tone overall, as he’ll make things happen that you normally wouldn’t expect, like spawning a train to barrel down a narrow bridge you’re trying to cross, or fill a cavern with flames all around after being taunted. Being the comedic relief, the narrator was one of the better highlights to Nostalgaia, very reminiscent of the mocking narrator from The Stanley Parable.

Like any other Soulslike, you begin by first creating your character exactly how you like. You have a full character customizer, able to choose skin color, body type, age, accessories, tattoos, nose width, eye style, jaw width, endowment and hair style. This alone is absolutely hilarious, because if you read what I mentioned above, I said you, the hero, was a simple stick figure. So yes, you can change these sliders to your preference, but realistically, this doesn’t change anything; you’re a stick figure, how would it? These opening moments of humor sets the tone going forward, and I was all for it.

Once you get your hero looking exactly how you want (heh), you then pick your starting class. You have a few choices from Datadin (a well-rounded defender that favors vitality and begins with a sword and shield), Resolutionary (favors dexterity by being swift and evasive), Formatter (favors strength and is your heavy weapon user), Sourcerer (your magic user), and lastly Randomaster (luck based, backstabs, parries and is great for critical hits). You can see even from the class names, humor again is seeping through everywhere it possibly can.


Once your adventure begins, don’t be surprised if you start to get heavy Dark Souls/Demon’s Souls vibes, as it’s got a similar feeling with its vastly interconnected world and branching pathways, including a poison area that made me want to stop playing out of frustration. You have a light and heavy attack, can block, dodge and will of course need to manage your stamina, a genre staple of course. Remember, this is almost like a parody, so expect to see plenty of gaming references that will surely make you at least crack a smile if not laugh out loud. One of first sets of armor I got was green and called Master Chef’s set, and at one point I even crossed a literal rainbow road bridge.

Instead of souls you’ll earn Memory for defeating enemies and breaking open barrels. This is your currency you’ll use when at resting spots, Beacons, to level up and also spent on upgrading your gear and unlocking certain pathways. Just like other Souls games, when you die, not if, you will drop all your currently gained Memory, and if you die again they are lost forever. Typical stuff for sure. General mechanics are much like almost every other Soulslike, as Beacons are where you’ll rest and refill your healing items, yet respawn all enemies. Here you can also set a singular warp point to teleport back to from any other Beacon, but sadly there’s no overall teleportation system in place, so you expect to do quite a lot of backtracking through certain areas at times. The world is very interconnected, allowing you to open locked pathways from the other side of a door later on, but not being able to quickly teleport to and from areas was frustrating and quite tedious.

A really cool aesthetic is how the world goes from a pixelated and decayed visual to being restored once you use a Beacon. This has the immediate surroundings turn ‘modern’, being well lit and have plenty of details from its initial pixelated look. Because of the lore and narrative, this also has a meaning, not just being a pretty visual effect just for the sake of doing so. Combat is also what you’d expect from nearly any Soulike, managing your stamina and doing what you can to be patient and learn enemy attack patterns. You have a light and heavy attack, as well as a dodge and being able to block. You can also run, depleting your stamina, but there’s no jumping allowed. Depending on the starter class you chose, you’ll begin with some basic weapons to start your adventure and just steps in you’ll fight your first enemies.

Even the first handful of enemies plays into Nostalgaia’s humor, being 2D enemies or facing off against a soldier with a bucket on their head. There’s a decent amount of enemy variety as you go through the entire journey, but there is quite a lot of repeated enemies within in each area. Combat, while forgiving for the most part and not quite as hardcore as the source material, can be clunky at times. I’ve had strikes miss enemies and sometimes it seemed as though my shield didn’t block any of the damage. You can of course heal with an item that is basically your Estus Flask, refilled when resting at Beacons, or finding special items in the world like Green Herbs (great Resident Evil Easter egg) or a hunk of meat.

The hardest enemy though is the camera when it comes to enemy lock-on. Sometimes it works great, and in theory a flick of the Right Stick swaps the enemy it’s focused on, but numerous times it would snap to a random enemy not in the pack right in front of me, sometimes even a different enemy through a wall or above. Good luck if you want to try to lock onto enemies that are up on ledges or far away though, which will be a challenge for magic users. Enemies start out basic and easy to defeat, slowly becoming more challenging and difficult. I don’t suspect those that live for Soulslike's will have much of a challenge, but for a casual genre player like myself, I did die a healthy amount of times, respawning at the last Beacon I used. Enemies later on can even start out 2D and flat, leap onto you to bite, then becoming 3D and more difficult.


Magic and mana is probably one of the most unique takes on the typical mechanics. Instead of a mana bar or that it refills, you have Access which is basically a counter of how many spells you can use. You find Access from enemy drops and in broken barrels but can only carry a certain amount at a time depending on your class and stats. Because each spell use needs to use a specific amount of Access, you can’t simply spam your magic attacks, even as a Sourcerer.

While there’s only a handful of bosses in Nostalgaia, they are of course the crown jewel of its combat. The first few weren’t too challenging, as even I beat them on my first try, but the next were much more difficult and took a few tries. Keeping with the humorous theme, defeating them gives you a very familiar “FINISHED HIM” message across the screen.

Your hero will find plenty of different armor and weapon choices along the way, some given from defeating enemies and bosses, others hidden away. Each seems quite unique, best meant for specific classes or playstyles. The most unique mechanic though comes from the Remembrance system. All this gear you find is quite basic, but each has a special description to it, usually about its lore. This lore will hint at specific points in the world where if you go to those specific spots and ‘Remember’ your items, they get upgraded, not just in stats but extra abilities and its visual as well.

Remember how I said that the lack of a teleport system was a downer though? This is partly why, as I don’t feel like doing a ton of backtracking just to upgrade an item. It’s a really interesting system and seeing your basic pixelated gear transition into modern 3D is also a cool effect, much like using a new Beacon and how it affects the world around it. An even cooler outcome is that you generally want to do this ‘Remembrance’ on each time you can afford to with your Memory, as once you hit certain thresholds you’ll also gain permanent bonuses.

The gear also keeps with the humor theme, as I decided I was going to use a key sword as my main weapon, and having a Hyrulean shield is also good for laugh given the combination of their source games. Your hero is a stick figure though, so whatever gear you decide to wear simply goes on top of these ‘body’ parts. Decide to just wear a pair of white boxer shorts with hearts on them and you’ll be a stick figure running around with, well, boxers on. Something about seeing a stick figure wearing an armored bra but not actually covering anything, you know, since your torso is just a stick, was so dumb it made me laugh.


Surprisingly, I wasn’t actually expecting The Last Hero of Nostalgaia to have much of a co-op mode, but I was wrong. From within the first few moments you have an item where you can summon a friend in and play the whole game through alongside if you choose. Both players make progress but there’s a few major caveats to factor in. First, you and your friend need to be at the same story point, if it’s mismatched, the player who’s lagging behind will need to catch up. Secondly, if either player dies, the game is desynced and you need to do a complete re-invite and start the co-op once more. I would have been fine with this, but there’s no matchmaking at all, so if you don’t have a friend to play with that also purchased the game, there’s essentially no online co-op unless you go make some friends externally first.

The constant play of 2D and 3D when it comes to nearly all of its visuals and even gear is a really interesting contrast that seems to somehow work. Even better, it makes sense given the narrative as well. While nothing will stand out and ‘wow’ you visually, seeing how large Nostalgaia is from certain vistas is impressive once you realize it’s all interconnected in some way. As for the audio, Neil McCaul voices the Narrator brilliantly and the whole experience wouldn’t have been the same without his witty banter and comments along the way. Aside from that though, there’s not much else of noteworthy for its audio, though you’ll hear plenty of weapon clangs and effects and there’s a subtle soundtrack that sets the tone during boss fights.

From its opening moments, to the credits and everywhere in between, the humor The Last Hero of Nostalgaia brings is surely part of its focus, bringing a more lighthearted approach to a Soulslike. Nearly every item description has some humor, even to the achievements, all topped off with plenty of fan service and gaming references you’re sure to recognize. Sure the humor wears a little thin the latter half, but fans should enjoy this different take on their favorite genre.

**The Last Hero of Nostalgaia was provided by the publisher and reviewed on an Xbox Series X**




Overall: 7.5 / 10
Gameplay: 8.0 / 10
Visuals: 7.5 / 10
Sound: 7.0 / 10

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