Project Galileo changes its name to Enotria: The Last Song and at the Tokyo Game Show 2022 we had the opportunity to try this intriguing Italian soulslike.
So far known under the code name of Project Galileo, Enotria: The Last Song aims to bring a different light to an increasingly inflated genre such as that of soulslike. To stand out, the developers try to leverage the sources of inspiration: Black Myth Wukong refers to Chinese myths and legends, Lies of P reinterprets the tale of Pinocchio in an original way, while Dolmen brings the formula into a context that mixes sci- fi and Lovecraft.
The Italian team Jyamma Games instead he opted for a different solution, presenting a game openly based on the works of Hidetaka Miyazaki, but with an imagery that refers to Italian environments, folklore and culture. “Summer-souls” is the term that the developer has invented for the communication of the game, placing the emphasis above all on the lively and sunny atmosphere that reigns in certain places in our country. However “inspired by Italy” really means everything and nothing and it was therefore with enormous curiosity that we have tried Enotria: The Last Song thanks to a pre-alpha version present at the Tokyo Game Show 2022. What we have been faced with is a project that still has a lot of work ahead, but which already now demonstrates clear ideas and a careful respect both to Italian roots and to the playful genre. where it belongs.
In rehearsing Enotria: The Last Song, the moment of revelation was when, after the first few minutes of battling enemies near the seashore, we climbed a hill and found ourselves in front of a very familiar panorama. A medieval village, with its uphill alleys, ancient walls, squares and churches. The sun beats down on the houses, a few trees to cast some shade, while in the background the blue of the sea merges with the blue of the sky. There is also a volcano in the distance, just so as not to miss anything. A kind of Civita di Bagnoregio, totally in contrast with the impressive and gloomy architecture of Bloodborne or the recent Thymesia. An inviting and apparently peaceful scenario, if it were not for the fact that the village is full of enemies ready to fight us. It must be said that the settings will not all be so sunny and lively, and the same demo contained a second night area, a forest with ancient ruins, statues covered with moss and altars preserved by dangerous monks.
In addition to the Italian landscapes, Jyamma Games has drawn heavily from the folklore, from the tradition of theatrical culture and commedia dell’arte. Eliminated a couple of enemies at the entrance of the village, we are greeted by a singer with a mandolin and a very familiar look. The white hat, the black mask and the aquiline nose leave little doubt: unlike the other characters met up to that point, this Pulcinella is not aggressive, and his role, at least in the opening bars of the game, seems to share with the player information about the world and its actors.
In the only playable demo at TGS 2022 you could come across many other references to masks and Italian folklore: one of the secondary bosses is Curtis, Prince of Laughter, a reference to Totò who – apart from the pronounced chin – aesthetically has actually little in common with the original. In the world of Enotria, the Prince of Laughter is a masked and dangerous knight, armed with a shield and halberd, ready to assault the player with quick thrusts or throw him into the air.
Yet, despite more or less obvious references, despite the sun, sea and mandolins in quantity, despite the battle theme reminiscent of a tarantella, the general impression is that the team is careful not to fall into parody and easy stereotype. The most imposing boss of the entire demo was Zanni, the first mask: inspired by the homonymous character of the commedia dell’arte, the Zanni of Enotria is one of the architects of the Dishcloth, the curse overthrown on the whole world and which will be eradicated by eliminating bosses like Zanni and tearing off their masks. In the game, Zanni is a huge, filthy creature, from whose gigantic mouth he seems to be throwing up a smaller version of himself. A very challenging fight awaits the player, and in addition to studying the movements and attacks in the enemy it will be of great help to use ingenuity and combine objects at his disposal: among these, the flasks of wine and fire are an absolutely devastating combination.
Gameplay and skill
Jyamma Games has never hid how much it is inspired by FromSoftware games and indeed, on several occasions, he underlined his intention to remain adherent to what are certain conventions of the kind established by the Japanese company. And indeed, pad in hand, Enotria is played exactly as one of their games. From the layout of the keys to the alternation of attacks, dodges and parry, passing through the behavior of the enemies and the way they are carefully positioned in the environment. The refreshment points where you can spend the memories accumulated by killing enemies, or the need to recover them in the points where you are killed, are essential.
However, the development team did not limit itself to making a carbon copy of Bloodborne, adopting some more original solutions both in combat than in the progression of the character. The most interesting mechanic is undoubtedly the one that sees the player switch at any time from his normal state to the state of Ardor, which has repercussions both in the fighting and during the exploration of the scenarios. Attacking enemies can destabilize them and increase a particular indicator, and it will be at that point that, by activating the Ardor, it will be possible to unbalance them and cause heavier damage. The Ardore also plays an important role in solving puzzles and navigating the surrounding environment, since some parts of the scenario react only when the Ardore state is activated: an example is the long bridge that allows you to reach the village of the demo, at the invisible start but that shows up when using the Ardore in a specific point of the map.
From the Souls Enotria also takes up the possibility of casting spells (here called Lines, “jokes”), which must obviously be obtained by exploring the map and can be used after a certain period of recharge. Shortly after the start of the demo you get hold of the first one Magic spell, a magical crossbow shot useful for attacking enemies from a distance. Then there is the whole part linked to the progression of the character, which in Enotria develops along six different archetypal branches called Virtues. spending points in the Valor branch allows for example to enhance offensive skills, the Curiosity branch is equivalent to Mage skills, while the Virtue of Grace allows access to stealth skills typical of a Thief class.
It is still very early to say how much all of these systems will be developed within the game, and how useful they will be in the economy of combat and exploration. Developed in Unreal Engine 4 (the team is evaluating the transition to the latest version of the technology), Enotria presented itself in a still raw form from a technical point of view, with several cases of interpenetration of the models and an input lag that is felt. However, we’re still talking about a pre-alpha version, and while the team isn’t ready to reveal a precise release period yet, there’s plenty of time to create a solid gameplay experience.
The pre-alpha of Enotria: The Last Song tested at TGS 2022 is still very raw and demonstrates how Jyamma Games will have to use the time available to create a truly solid experience. Yet, already now, the developer proves to have very clear ideas about the project. Enotria is a soulslike that is played like many others but that makes aesthetics its most characteristic element: the fascinating landscapes and the enemies seen so far have surprised positively, and we can’t wait to find out what other places and what other bosses will be featured in the full game. After all, isn’t that the same feeling as waiting for a new FromSoftware game?
- Artistically very inspired
- The mechanics of the Ardore are interesting
- Technically, there is a long way to go
- Differentiation of the virtues to be explored