Bleak Faith: Forsaken Review | TechRaptor

Bleak Faith: Forsaken Review |  TechRaptor

In the immortal words of Radiohead, “you do it to yourself, you do, and that’s what really hurts”. I’ve lost track of the number of indie studios trying to take on From Software and the souls series, and it’s arguable that not a single one has yet managed to even come close to capturing the magic of Dark Souls gold Elden Ring. They’re still trying, though, and that brings us to Bleak Faith: Forsakena new indie Soulslike from Archangel Studios.

Let me lay my credentials on the table. I’m massive souls fan. I’ve finished every entry in the series at least once, most of them multiple times, and Bloodborne is my favorite game of all time. I hope that gives some context to the following disclosure: I didn’t make it all the way through Bleak Faith. I could only manage a handful of hours before it wore me down.

You may think that this invalidates the review, and if so, that’s fair. However, I’d like to put forth my case for still reviewing Bleak Faith: Forsaken despite not experiencing everything it had to offer. First, I genuinely believe that anyone who makes it all the way through possesses either heroic determination or a self-hatred so strong that it suggests an urgent need for therapy. Second, Archangel Studios is charging real money for Bleak Faith on Steam, so I think it’s important to issue a “caveat emptor” to prevent others from going through what I did.

Bleak Faith: Forsaken Is A Complete And Utter Mess

The player battling an enemy in Bleak Faith: Forsaken
Looks nice in still image form, doesn’t it? Shame it falls apart as soon as it starts moving.

Let me be upfront about this. Almost nothing in Bleak Faith: Forsaken feels like it works as it should. It’s an open-world Soulslike with a world that is immeasurably tedious and frustrating to trek through, full of depressingly confusing and obtuse level design and enemies with inconsistent and unclear attack patterns. Even when Bleak Faith‘s combat is “working as intended”, it feels clunky, awkward, and badly-made.

Normally, this is where we might discuss the plot, but I have absolutely no idea what it is. Part of that might be because I didn’t see Bleak Faith through to its conclusion, but it’s also because you are given absolutely zero sense of context or direction at the outset. You’re shown a dialogue-free cutscene that feels like little more than an artsy experiment, then dumped onto a sloping rooftop. That’s it. That’s the setup

Almost nothing in Bleak Faith: Forsaken feels like it works as it should.

From there, you will begin on a journey I can only describe as Sisyphean in its pointlessness. Fodder enemies will pose absolutely no challenge whatsoever, but larger enemies can one-shot you with such alarming ease and regularity that it feels practically impossible to bypass them.

The lack of direction means that it is completely impossible to know whether any particular path will take you anywhere useful; while there is a single objective marker, it’s only visible from the central hub area, and once you start down one of the hub area’s three or four paths, you lose sight of it completely. All of this combined makes it incredibly difficult to feel motivated to keep slogging through Bleak Faith: Forsaken‘s tasteless, endless corridors. There is a fast travel system, but it’s small comfort in a game where it’s totally unclear where you should even begin to explore or why.

The Art Design In Bleak Faith: Forsaken Promise Shows

A diver enemy throwing a spear at the player in Bleak Faith: Forsaken
Trust me when I say the art design in Bleak Faith: Forsaken is about all there is to admire.

Bleak Faith‘s breathtakingly poor execution is a real shame because the art design shows incredible promise. From the off, the world of the Omnistructure is compelling to look at. It’s a massive, labyrinthine superstructure full of strange buttresses, apartment blocks, and medieval and futuristic architecture seemingly rubbing shoulders. Giant snakes glide beneath the water while skyborne manta rays twirl and dance above you. Often, the art direction here is astonishing.

The creature and enemy design follows suit, too. It’s a smidge ripped off from Bloodborne and Dark Souls 3with a hint of Deny in the almost tragic-looking android figures, but it’s strong nonetheless. Huge creatures with trailing strands of hair stalk massive open fields, and frog monsters lurk alongside terrifying scorpion-like insects in dank sewers. It’s all very impressive stuff, and it could have made a solid game incredibly immersive.

As it stands, it feels like contracting Michelangelo to paint on a prison toilet wall. The art design is completely wasted on an experience that doesn’t know how to use these enemies remotely well. Giant enemies swing weapons with such effortless ease that they must be made of fiberglass, then recover instantly, making combat engagements inordinately frustrating.

Glitches Abound In Bleak Faith: Forsaken

An insect enemy rearing up to attack in Bleak Faith: Forsaken
This insect enemy was the bane of my existence, and not for fun reasons.

That, of course, is when Bleak Faith isn’t glitching out. One particularly nasty glitch appeared to completely eliminate interim animations on attacks, meaning enemies landed their swings with even more frightening speed, while another meant attacks against enemies just didn’t land at all. Enemies routinely clipped through walls during my hours with Bleak Faithas did I, and there was more than one occasion where I glitched through an apparently solid surface and died instantly as a result.

Sometimes, Bleak Faith: Forsaken tries its hand at implementing other genres, and those implementations are usually riddled with glitches as well.

I can’t confirm whether this is the result of a glitch or not, but some enemy attacks also felt incredibly inconsistent. Sometimes they’d glance off me with nary a spot of damage, while other times they’d absolutely wreck me. The aforementioned scorpion insects are one example of this problem in action; one attack they performed sometimes seemed to graze me and sometimes to one-shot me, with no real indication of what the difference was between the two.

Sometimes, Bleak Faith: Forsaken tries its hand at implementing other genres, and those implementations are usually riddled with glitches as well. There’s a bafflingly out-of-place Uncharted-style climbing system involving jumping to different handholds, and somehow, it’s often unclear where you’re supposed to be jumping to. Even worse is a Shadow of the Colossus-esque climbing giant monsters system that randomly killed me without providing any feedback as to why it had done so, all while jerking the camera around in a way that made the action impossible to keep up with.

Bleak Faith: Forsaken Review | FinalThoughts

The hub area in Bleak Faith: Forsaken
You’ll see a lot of this hub area, because you’ll keep returning to it, wondering where to go next.

I’m not proud of not finishing Bleak Faith: Forsaken, but the fact is that solid aesthetics and occasionally interesting enemy design are nowhere near enough to cover for the absolute onslaught of glitches, bugs, and just plain horrible game design I encountered. The sad truth is that Bleak Faith: Forsaken feels like a pre-alpha, a proof-of-concept that not only isn’t finished but barely even feels like it’s been started. Avoid this one like the plague.


TechRaptor reviewed Bleak Faith: Forsaken on PC via Steam with a copy provided by the developer.

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