Flintlock: The Siege of Dawn is a Souls-like that’s not afraid of difficulty settings

Recently we’ve seen a flurry of announcements and releases for Soul-like games. From the recently released Thymesia and next week’s Steel Rising, through to 2023’s, Pinocchio inspired Lies of P it feels like everyone and their dog is jumping on the action RPG bandwagon at the moment.

After watching a 15 minute, hands-off presentation last week, I can also confirm that Flintlock: The Siege of Dawn is most definitely a Souls-like action RPG too. However, this ‘magic meets gunpowder technology’ fantasy title seems to be a little braver than other games in the genre as it’s not afraid to be releasing with optional difficulty settings.

This means anyone who wants to experience Flintlock for its narrative without fear of being punished by some very intense action will be able to tailor the experience to suit their skill level. During the presentation the developers, A44 Games did stress that there is a specific default difficulty for the game though, and this will allow you to maintain the authenticity of the experience and play the game as originally intended.

After the presentation had ended, we were given over 15 minutes worth of new, 4K gameplay footage for Flintlock: The Siege of Dawn and I’ve fashioned it into the in-depth video preview that’s sitting just above these words.

Included within that video is pretty much everything I learned during that preview session, and it includes some excellent footage of two of the games’ regions, loads of gratuitous combat and even a look at one of the game’s boss battles, where player-character Nor and her magical fox-like pal Enki face-off against the God of Knowledge.

This battle takes place on an ancient bridge found in a port city that’s the hub of trade, knowledge and commerce in the world of Flintlock.

It’s not just that difficulty settings that set Flintlock apart from others games in the Souls-like genre though. The close bond between Nor and Enki also allows for unique combat system that sees you controlling both characters at the same time. Nor, an explosives expert who wields an axe and a flintlock pistol, is an expert at smoothly weaving between gunplay and melee attacks to quickly kill foes. Nor’s firearms in particular are incredibly powerful but to counter that the ammunition needed for them is in very short supply. Killing enemies with her axe will earn Nor more gun food for her shooty bangs though, whilst defeating enemies with those guns will reward the player with more armour, so in a way the combat also shares a few similarities with Doom 2016.

Enki is intrinsic to the flow of the combat and he’s a useful tool who’s infused magical powers that allow Nor to hold enemies in place or provide crowd control. As Enki is player controlled, this adds a unique spin to the gameplay because, unlike a normal souls-like, you can use his powers to stop enemies attacking you if you, say, mistime a strike or need to back off to get some breathing room. There are also passive combat abilities for Enki that you can unlock during gameplay but we weren’t told what those are.

I’m not going to lie, the standard difficulty combat in this game looks like it’s a bit of an assault on the senses, especially during the boss battle with the God of Knowledge. I definitely expect there to be a big learning curve when playing this one on the default difficulty setting.

While we weren’t shown any footage of the levelling and upgrading system in Flintlock, we were told that this game’s version of the ‘Souls’ resource was called Reputation. Similarly to other souls-like games, whatever Reputation you have on you at the time of death is lost, but you can retrieve it from your corpse if you’re able to get back there before you die again.

While it’s probably a little while yet before I get to go hands-on with Flintlock, the gameplay I saw certainly did look promising, if not more than a little intense at times. The fact that difficulty options have been added should be applauded though, if only for the fact that it means that Flintlock could become a stepping stone for less confident players to finally get to grips with a Souls-like game.

Flintlock: The Siege of Dawn is scheduled to release on PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One and Xbox Series X/S in early 2023.

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