Estimated reading time: 9 minutes
Having originally sat down to a first look of Lost Epic by One or Eight Inc. around this time last year while in Early Access on the PC, this side-scrolling Soulslike has now been fully released for both the PC (Steam) and the PlayStation 4/5. Blending in Soulslike toughness and a much more Metroidvania style for exploration and intrigue, there’s plenty to love here once you get the hang of the world you now find yourself in.
Quoting myself to start things off, Lost Epic puts us in a world where the previous Elder God is gone, the New Gods who have taken their place and those with no power are left without protection and are being hunted down for sport. Until now that is. Taking up a sword in a realm of possibilities, you are a knight and your goal? Your job? Your obligation? Is to take those New Gods and their Holy Ones down. This premise, while almost par for the course of a Soulslike that are generally all dark, gruesome and depressing in terms of how far things have fallen? Hits the mark.
With several New Gods to face off against, their realm of power will generally resemble the deity that you are tasked with dispatching. Lush forests, rich underwater environments, a stone city overrun with gross tentacle blobs or dark underground passageways where you cannot see more than five feet ahead? Each of these is solid in its puzzles and its challenges as they loop back into the premise. Is it perfect? No, but it helps bring everything together as Lost Epic finds itself in a vein where it lets the journey do the storytelling instead of verbally telling you one.
This form of storytelling is not a problem for me, as again, it is par for the course when it comes to a Soulslike. You start with next to nothing, you know next to nothing, and you have to fight for everything. This said, I do think that there could have been a bit more lore spread throughout the world though as I think that it would have enhanced the journey a little bit. Instead, there is very little dialog from a group of witches that will be your guides in various locations to help you materialize items and upgrade your equipment. Aside from them, there are very few NPCs that you’ll encounter and other than a few lines of dialog from them? They’ll generally be asking you to bring them materials or dispatch a certain amount of enemies or bosses.
Where things shine for Lost Epic is in the journey and the exploration. The world that you’ll be exploring is huge and you won’t always be able to get from Point A to Point B that easily. This is also part Metroidvania afterall with switches, levers and obstacles needing to be destroyed in order to move on. Each square or rectangle on your map will have nodes telling you how many pathways lead out from this point which can help you plan your path forwards… as long as you can see the node. A bit of a design flaw here is that if there is an NPC available, a checkpoint statue (broken or whole), or a campfire? You may miss the node making you wonder what the hell you’re missing when all you had to do was go up and to the left from one of these areas.
Within each of these areas you’ll have plenty of foes to contend with. Small close ranged melee, heavy hittings, archers, flyers and casters. If you hate a particular Soulslike element, you know they have it, and for some of these enemies? You’ll need to figure out how to take them out fast as there are always a lot more of them than you. So it’s a good thing that you have plenty of choice at your fingertips! Standard melee attacks with one-handed and two-handed swords, bows, and flying gauntlets / shields allow you to cast magic independently of what you’re currently doing. Beside the gauntlets / shields for magics, you can also learn new abilities from your weapons that one learnt? Can be used with any other weapon.
This would, again, be pretty par for the course however where things change up in Lost Epic is that there is no “unblockable” attack. You can swing at your enemy, they can swing at you, you can block their attack, you can bat their arrows out of the air or even cancel out their magic with yours. Even better, a red exclamation mark above an enemy’s head which normally tells you to DODGE as you can do nothing about it? In this case, Lost Epic is telling you to parry that blow. You can dodge it if you want but you can just as easily parry once you have the timing down which is a saving grace against bosses.
Following this up, you can also “Divine Counter” which is the act of using one of your special weapon abilities against an enemy with a yellow exclamation mark. This will help you further break their guard and their advance on you, but like the red exclamation marks, timing is everything and practice makes perfect. Until practice has made perfect however, that’s what the rest of your inventory is for. Healing potions, cooked meals and stat boosters are all available to quick-slot into place for when you need them the most which works in concept, as long as you’ve made sure to find out how to make it work properly.
There really isn’t much instruction on certain elements of Lost Epic and item creation is one of them. Healing potions for example need either grass for lesser ones and flowers for larger ones. You can find these in the field for sure, but you’ll never get enough to keep a solid nine on hand which is the maximum unless you quite literally farm for them. So once you’ve picked them up, you’ll need to go to one of the above mentioned witches to materialize seeds. These seeds will then need to be planted and cultivated giving you more than what you started with, and from there, you’ll have to turn a portion of those back into seeds while using the rest to make what you need. Eventually if you remember to keep track of things it becomes easy enough, but you have to remember to do so otherwise you’ll only be getting three per item box visit which won’t get you very far.
Unfortunately, Lost Epic falls into the same trap that a lot of other titles in the genre do, obscene difficulty spikes. Going well enough one minute, the next you’re dead. Just dead. As things move further in the adventure you get a mulligan and even then, certain combinations of enemies or bosses are just… for the lack of a better word unfair. “Git Gud” only brings you so far before you need to grind some level-ups or materials to upgrade some of your gear which is another area that could have used a bit more explanation in the beginning.
The localization of Lost Epic isn’t perfect, and while some things are close enough to not worry about, like the following translation “X has leave the lobby” when playing in co-op, there are other menu items that don’t make as much sense. Craft weapons for example isn’t a menu for crafting weapons. It’s a menu for crafting armors, new magical gauntlets and cosmetic items. Evolve weapons is your weapon crafting and because of the interface? It’s apt to leave you making a mistake by trying to upgrade the wrong piece of gear as things are not in the same order from one window to the next. Once you do know which weapon you are evolving though, that standard piece of steel found in the field becomes a marvelous weapon making you wonder how you ever lived without it.
Finally, while not a complaint about Lost Epic itself, playing in co-op was…
It was something. Also having Richard’s interest, we found ourselves joining forces a few times in order to battle the forces of the New Gods and the New Gods themselves. Two is definitely better than one especially with some of the numbers that you’ll face off against. More weapons are being swung, more magic is being slinged, and aggro can be diverted from one player to the other in order to give a chance to heal. Best part? You can join in or leave with little ceremony as you only need to “load a lobby” to get started and this can be done from anywhere with the click of an unlimited use item which is great.
Where things didn’t work so well here is that while in co-op, you can’t make items. You cannot level up. You cannot interact with certain elements of the map. You cannot interact with the NPCs to get or hand in quests. Worst of all? The lag was so damned bad, I think we got better once we returned to real time because of the sheer precision that we had to do once the screens froze and we saw our impending dooms. When it was stable enough it was great, but there were some moments where we basically kept up with one another in voice chat as we could make it further solo in real time than co-op in lag time. While we do have different grades of internet packages, there are other titles that we are playing on and off and do not have these issues so they really were localized to Lost Epic.
Otherwise, while certain features could have used more details or explanations on how to do certain things like making new weapons for example, Lost Epic is fun. Graphically it’s pretty to look at and each of the areas that you’ll be passing through all have their own little flairs and details really letting you know who’s domain that you’re in. The music in all of these domains change and certain tracks really let you know that it’s about to be go time as you aren’t closing in on a mid-boss, you’re closing in on a real boss and the New Gods? They do not go down easily which is great as each offers a different experience ranging from what the hell to WHAT THE HELL and I wouldn’t have a Soulslike any other way.
Overall, Lost Epic, while not perfect, is a fun 2D side scrolling Metroidvania Soulslike. While it may be rough around certain edges, there’s still plenty to love here and it holds a challenge that I think fans of the Soulslike genre would appreciate.Score: 7 / 10