- Updated on March 19, 2023

Bleak Faith: Forsaken was conceived by a two-person indie studio that went on Kickstarter and was set to go into early access back in 2019. Zamakh was on the “dream game” – a brutal survival-horror action-RPG (that’s right) in a uniquely structured open world, with base building, fully voiced companions, a modular crafting system and a PvP arena. Money for all this was not collected, the game was not released either in the 19th or in the 20th. As a result, the authors found another person and focused on the soul-like, but with their own features and atmospheric videos that immediately attracted attention. So was Blak Faith: Forsaken worth the wait?

Somewhere we lose, somewhere we find

The game starts out awkwardly. Some skinny naked man (or is it an android?) is running along a huge roof and every now and then strives to fall off it. They say that the control on the gamepad is disgusting – I don’t know, I played on the keyboard, and it’s quite possible to control from the point of view of functionality. Another thing is that this is not very pleasant – the character turns around too sharply and starts moving, which is why he often falls off all these tall structures, which are full in the game (and for some reason there are stupid platform episodes).

At the very least, having got used to it and having defeated a couple of first enemies, if we run in a straight line, we almost immediately get to a rendezvous with a huge boss and stick our flippers together without a chance. Once in the tenth time, having revived at the local analogue of the fire, which is more reminiscent of a graphical glitch, you are perplexed: what was it all about and what is happening here? The authors decided to clumsily reveal their thesis about “almost the most difficult soul-like in history”?

It was this trailer that impressed many a year ago.

However, it turned out that it was not necessary to immediately run along the “tutorial” straight towards the boss – there are several other ways that will allow you to meet more ordinary enemies and acquire decent armor. The main thing is not to fall into the abyss in the process and not get stuck in the textures.

This starting situation is indicative of all of Black Faith. There is a very cool non-linear structure of locations that are really interesting to explore, but in the process you will suffer not only and not so much because of strong enemies, but because of the control features and technical problems.

Why do we need a story?

You will also constantly (well, in the first half for sure) ask questions: who or what am I, where am I, what is happening here and where am I running?

However, the nebula of what is happening is a generic feature of the soullike genre. It’s just that in Black Faith this is especially felt. For a long time, it is only clear that we ended up in a large ancient world with a rich history, which is now inhabited by monsters. And we play as a representative of a certain order or an entire empire. Here we have a dark techno-fantasy – the setting is somewhat reminiscent of the Warhammer 40,000 universe and the game EYE: Divine Cybermancy (there are also technomancers).

The Kickstarter description clarifies that we’re trying to survive in “one of the last outposts of the Forsaken, a legion of hunters destined to protect the remnants of humanity.” It also says that “the essence of your goal is shrouded in mystery” and only gradually will you come to “understanding the true meaning of alienation, isolation and fear.”

As you progress, the clarity becomes a little more. We meet other warriors, rare survivors hiding in the catacombs, some high-ranking knights and priests who speak to us almost on an equal footing.

But the incentive for further passage is not the desire to find out what is happening here (this is still not a story RPG!), but rather the desire to explore the world. Purely visually, it is stunning – towers and castles (more precisely, their ruins) going into the sky, against which infernal giants roam, as if descended from the paintings of Bosch and other artists. In addition, there are many really different regions – underwater locations, desert, the same ruins and castles, catacombs and sewers, an abandoned city, and so on.

And you don’t even need a map.

And the most important thing is the aforementioned non-linear scheme of building the world. Locations are strung on top of each other, intertwined and connected by many passages. And there are a lot of vertical transitions – you can go up for a long time or, on the contrary, go down almost to the center of the earth.

Leaving the hub, you can choose one of the paths that will sooner or later intersect and close – either return to the same central point, or send to where the main events continue.

Going to the right, you can get into a flooded sewer, where you have to fight with large centipedes. And if you turn left, you will find yourself in the ruins, cross the forest where the horned giant roams, then you will go down the stairs of the next tower for a long time, find yourself in pitch darkness, meet the skeleton knight on a black horse and exchange long intense glances with him (here he is, horror: nothing is clear, but it creeps to the bone!). Then, literally by touch, fight the mini-boss and, finally, go into the cage of the elevator to sink in the darkness for a long, long time, almost a minute – it seems, to the bottom of the abyss itself.

And in the end, find yourself in the desert, where more dangerous than in the same sewer, bizarre monsters are waiting. You can try to defeat them or sneak past them using stealth. Or you can return through the “bonfire” to the hub and explore other territories to get cooler equipment and learn new skills.

In the process, previously closed gates and gratings are opened, short paths are discovered, all nooks and crannies are examined in search of crannies. For such a principle of building and exploring the world, the authors only want to applaud. Yes, at first, of course, I want to complain about the lack of a map. Although if you play saucelike, you should be prepared for this. In any case, you soon realize that without it, only more interesting.

Pathetic, brutal, far from perfect

The gameplay is a bit more complicated. The combat here is pretty hardcore. Everything is in place – roll, block, parry, far-spaced “bonfires”. Sometimes they are so far apart that the authors allow us to carry a portable “bonfire” with us, which can be set up anywhere once by creating a save point. True, it will not work to return through it to other checkpoints.

Not only bosses, but also ordinary enemies (there are plenty of them) use different tactics. Having obtained a very powerful weapon after defeating the first boss, you will feel like a super-soldier for some time, until you encounter some kind of magician or a skeleton bristling with spikes that kill almost from the first hit with a skill.

The hero can also use active abilities. Many of them, like in Elden Ring and Path of Exile, are tied to a specific weapon. That is, the same swords / hammers with approximately the same level of cutting or crushing damage can give different abilities. In addition, at some point, you will start to find artifacts that allow you to learn active skills that are not tied to weapons, such as summoning an elemental.

The hero initially has no class, but you will gradually learn perks, many of which allow you to focus on using a shield, two blades, a bow, on summoning the same elementals or illusions. Or you will turn into a berserker, or maybe into a vampire, absorbing part of the health of enemies. True, first you need to defeat the boss, get the “unstable essence of the perk” and take it to the fire. If you die in the process, then the essence will be lost, and you will have to return for it – such is the analogue of souls.

There is also crafting according to blueprints, the ability to improve weapons and insert pebbles into them that give bonuses to characteristics or passive skills like a chance to freeze / set fire to a monster.

It is not only the control problems and technical flaws mentioned at the beginning that spoil the impression (the sound or light may even suddenly disappear), but also the general curvature of the combat system. Everything seems to be in place, but not brought to a shine.

For example, there are mostly optional battles with giants (not to be confused with bosses) – first you need to knock them to the ground with kicks, and then climb onto your back and, moving along it, look for and attack vulnerable points. Everything seems to be fine – it even reminds of Shadow of the Colossus.

But often it all comes down to boring circles at the feet of a giant, who, in turn, walks around you and does nothing really. Or, once in a couple of minutes, it suddenly makes you die right away, not really understanding why. After that, the desire to do all this disappears.

In addition, some bosses, for all their epicness, turned out to be frankly weak compared to others. There is also a lot of approximately the same loot, with which nothing can be done – neither sell nor recycle for resources. It seems to be trifles, but the sediment remains.

The bosses here are scary and epic.

In Bleak Faith: Forsaken, everything is fine with graphics and music, with the world and its exploration, but there are questions about the battles and technical performance. And according to our criteria, this, of course, is a passerby. However, if given a chance (and if the developers release patches), the game is capable of captivating – it has its own dark charm.

Pros: interesting setting on the verge of dark techno-fantasy and horror; non-linear structure of the world, which is interesting to explore; epic monsters; chic design of locations; The game is very atmospheric, everything is fine with the picture and music.

Cons: the combat system is crooked; there are problems with control, with stability, and in general the game is clearly not brought to mind.

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