Enotria: The Last Song Demo Hands-On | Bright Souls

Enotria: The Last Song is a promising new Soulslike with lots of light.

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Enotria: The Last Song is a new Soulslike by Italian studio Jyamma Games that promises to bring a fresh take on the genre by adding light, a lot of it.

Ever since Dark Souls became a huge hit, Soulslike has become a big genre, with various studios from all over the world making their own spin on the formula that FromSoftware popularized. For the most part though, these other Soulslike games not only feature tough-but-rewarding combat but also often feature a dark and moody atmosphere that fits the difficulty.

Sure, even FromSoftware’s Souls games have bright levels, but these still have an undercurrent of dread. But Enotria is different as Jyamma Games even highlights it as “Summer Souls” on its Steam page. That’s because the game is set in a sun-drenched world that’s inspired by Italian folklore.

While the game’s launch is still a couple of months away, a lengthy demo is coming this week, and we got to try it out ahead of its global release. Based on our time with the game, Enotria holds a lot of promise thanks in large part to its brighter locales.

A Sun-Lit Soulslike

As with many games in the genre, Enotria’s story is rather vague to start. What players know at the beginning is that the world has stagnated, with everyone being gripped by the Canovaccio, an eternal play.

This manifests in many of the world’s denizens being stuck in a trance as if they are actors on the stage. Combine this with the game’s medieval Italian setting that’s filled with sun-kissed vistas, Enotria is a decidedly brighter and more colorful take on Soulslike that should be much less stressful atmospherically.

After a quick tutorial, players emerge in a beautiful coastal area that’s not unlike Dark Souls 2’s Majula, albeit without the melancholic feel. Soon, players will get to see Quinta, a beautiful vista that no doubts make for a memorable sight.

Make no mistake, the sun-lit locales don’t mean the game is a light and fun journey. It just helps the game feel less oppressive. In that sense., players who find other Souls games to be too dark and heavy may find Enotria a bit more inviting.

As someone who believes that the dark and rather stressful atmosphere of Souls games makes them compelling, Enotria’s twist on the formula surprisingly works. I think a lot of that is down to the mystery behind the Canovaccio which has put many people in a trance.

Sure, it may not have the darker atmosphere that most Sousl games have, but it still retains the genre’s penchant for environmental storytelling that, for me, makes for enhanced immersion in the game’s world.

For instance, looking through Quinta, you’ll see a lot of colorful medieval tapestries and designs that hint at the city’s festive past. Now, townspeople are still in revelry, though many will attack you on sight.

Of course, we can’t say how well the brighter take on the Souls genre will work in the long run, but because of how unique it is, Enotria already holds a lot of promise.

So, what about the gameplay? Well, Enotria is also quite promising in that regard, though it could use a bit more polish.

Fast-Paced Combat with a Focus on Parrying

Gameplay-wise, Enotria should be familiar to genre veterans as you gain “souls” by beating enemies which you can use to level up. There are also “bonfires” which act as checkpoints to heal and level up.

As for combat, it’s more like Bloodborne with Sekiro added in instead of the slower-paced Souls games. That’s because there’s a big emphasis on parrying and dodging here. There’s even a stagger bar for enemies that, when full, can let players land a powerful attack.

Personally, I have a hard time with parrying in games, but you’ll need to master it here if you want to progress. Thankfully, the parry window is fairly generous, but I still found the game to pose quite a challenge.

Aside from parrying, landing attacks also charge your abilities which are called Mask Lines. Essentially, you have an incentive to go on the offensive to charge powerful abilities that you can use to land even stronger blows.

You need to keep in mind your stamina bar though as it can get depleted quickly. I would’ve liked a more generous stamina bar (both in terms of size and regen) at the beginning as I often found myself running out of stamina in the early game, especially given the fast pace of the combat.

Another thing that I would’ve liked is some extra polish as moving and dodging, while responsive, isn’t as “smooth” (for lack of a better term) compared to something like Sekiro.

Still, Enotria’s gameplay has all the makings of a good Soulslike that should delight fans. What’s more, it also has a focus on builds which should satisfy players who want a lot of flexibility when it comes to combat styles.

Masks: A Focus on Builds

In keeping with the Italian folk theater theme, players take on the role of the Maskless One, a puppet-looking character who can wear various masks that have different specialties. For instance, one mask gives stronger heavy attacks while another buffs the damage of ranged abilities.

Combining this with the fact that you can set up three different masks (complete with their own weapon and ability loadouts) that can be switched on the fly gives players plenty of ways to tackle combat.

For instance, you can equip one type of mask when up against many weak enemies, and then switch to a mask that enhances strong attacks for a tougher single enemy.

As the demo is only a slice of the game, we can’t say for certain if some masks are a must for some types of encounters. For now though, the mask system is great to have if you like being able to switch up loadouts quickly.

There are also other elements that we haven’t touched on like the Path of Innovators which is a skill tree for ability and passive buffs. That’s likely something that we’ll explore more in the full-release version.

Enotria: The Last Song Initial Impressions

Based on our time playing the game, Enotria: The Last Song has all the makings of a must-play Soulslike for genre fans as it features plenty of familiar combat and gameplay elements, all while featuring an interesting build customization mechanic that can be switched on the fly.

Perhaps its most intriguing element though is the summer environment inspired by Italian folk traditions with a heavy dose of theater. This is because the sun-lit take on Souls is a rarity, and it might just herald other unique takes on the genre.

The Enotria: The Last Song demo will be released for free on May 22, 2024. Meanwhile, the game will be released on September 19, 2024, on PS5 and PC.

Note: These Enotria: The Last Song demo impressions were made via a code provided by the publisher. The content is subject to change as the game is still in development and may differ from the final release.