The Last Oricru is a Souls-like game and the first release from GoldKnights Studio based out of Prague. Souls-likes are one the gaming industry’s biggest trends, and the success of Elden Ring only helped push the trend into overdrive. Like any trend where there are piles of releases, each game has to do something to stand out and draw players away from all of the other options available.
Oricru’s attempt at uniqueness lies in its decision-based storyline and a small handful of game mechanics and co-op based items that I hadn’t seen in other Souls-like games in the past. When writing about games, I typically don’t like comparing games to other games as I feel it’s much better to evaluate a game in a vacuum and praise or criticize it for its own merits. GoldKnights has referenced its similarities to other Souls-like games, however, and it would be almost impossible to discuss Oricru without comparing it to the games that inspired it.
In Oricru you play as Silver, a human that is immortal due to a special belt he is wearing. There’s no customization of your character, so you’re stuck playing as Silver. The game is a hybrid mix of sci-fi and fantasy, and there are hints to your overarching quest to find the mysterious blue floating head that speaks to you. You awaken, or are reborn, in a medieval-styled setting, and the first area is essentially an extended tutorial. You’re introduced to the small band of other immortal humans, and everything to this point is linear and very basic.
During this portion of the game, you’re introduced to the game’s main factions: the Ratkins, humanoid rats that are treated as slaves, and the Naboru, humanoids that appear to be made out of pudding and muscles. The game’s biggest draw is the reputation system between them, and even in the early stages of the game, you’re given ample opportunities to make choices that will impact your standing. One early decision is that you can choose to provide a first aid kit to the Ratkin armorer, but later on the game offers decision branches that are much more impactful. The “tutorial” section takes a couple of hours or so to complete and introduces you to many of the combat mechanics and equipment.
The vast majority of the game’s mechanics are copied from the Souls games and will feel familiar to fans of the genre. You collect essence from enemies you kill, and this essence is used to buy stat points as your level, exactly like runes from Elden Ring. If you die your essence is left at your point of death and can be recovered, but if you die before collecting it, it’s lost. Instead of campfires, the game uses terminals. At a terminal you can spend your essence to level your stats, you can upgrade gear, and you can read the captain’s log.
The log is some backstory to your character, and new paragraphs are found at each new terminal you discover. Upgrading equipment uses materials that are looted around the world, like metals, leather, and fabrics. One big issue with upgrading is that every time you upgrade your gear, the stat requirements also go up, so it’s possible to upgrade your gear above your stats with no warning, and then that gear becomes unusable. Like every Souls game all enemies respawn when you “rest” at a terminal, and you even have three healing potion slots that are replenished.
Equipment is largely the same as other Souls-likes, as well. You can equip 2 left hand items, like shields or your mana-drainer, and 2 right hand weapons. There are also 2-handed weapons, and swapping between them is easy, allowing access to the correct weapon for the enemies you’re facing. Combat is fairly straightforward, with each weapon having 2 attacks with LB/LT and RB/RT, and while common weapons like swords have the equivalent of a light attack or strong attack, other items have wildly different effects like healing, buffing, or other magical attacks. If you have a shield equipped, you can block some incoming attacks, or your character can roll away from attacks in an effort to dodge. I found myself continually frustrated with the blocking and dodging, though, as even on the easiest combat difficulty it was far too easy to mistime a dodge or block and have an enemy combo you until death. Once an enemy made contact, it was impossible to block or roll to break the combo.
One unique feature of the game is the mana-drainer. It’s an item that you equip in your offhand, and it’s the only way, aside from resting at a terminal, to replenish your mana. This item is one of the worst changes to the Souls-like formula; it makes playing a low armor caster character even more difficult since the mana-drainer is extremely short range and has to be used in melee combat. In addition to having to be close to the enemy, you have to be locked on to the enemy to drain mana from it, which makes mana draining in difficult fights or fights with multiple enemies almost impossible. This could’ve been intended as a way to balance spell casting so people don’t just stay at range and toss fireballs, but the biggest negative to this is how hard it can be to close the distance with enemies. Casters will also typically have less stamina and lower strength and dexterity stats, so even switching to an alternate weapon isn’t viable. This mechanic makes casters inferior to melee in almost every way, and the added complexity of playing a caster wasn’t worth the benefit.
For the purposes of this next section, I will state that I played through the game on an Xbox Series X, so any bugs or issues discussed might be console specific. The most glaring difference was the difference between the main player character model, NPC models, and the background graphics. Silver’s character model looks dated. The textures on his hair are blurry and chunky, which doesn’t make sense as many of the NPC models looked very refined and detailed. The Noburo queen, for example, has detailed armor and highlights. The backgrounds look very nice and detailed as well, making the main character just stand out, and it feels like his model was made by someone else or was for some reason rushed out. Graphically, the game is pretty solid. There were some texture mapping issues on chests and other interactable items, but nothing horrid. It was a bit disappointing, however, that every single lootable item was a yellow gem icon, so you could never tell what something was before you picked it up.
The game is fully voiced, and I really wish this was a positive thing because most of the time it is. However the voice acting in Oricru is simply awful. The script is B-movie cheesy, and none of the characters show any emotion in their dialogues. I’m willing to bet that a lot of the dialogue was written as intentional humor, but overall it falls flat and makes the main character just sound like a bumbling idiot rather than an immortal human who is supposedly part of a Naboru prophecy. During conversation dialogues, Silver can become very glitchy as well. If you’re standing on a platform or anything that isn’t the ground, the character model will randomly pop up and down, which is distracting and mood killing when an NPC is talking about his daughter getting captured and murdered.
As previously mentioned, the game prides itself on being a narrative adventure where your decisions matter. In addition to the two warring factions, there is a third player in the overall story, but I don’t want to spoil it for anyone playing. The decisions you make definitely shape the story and how it progresses. I didn’t get a great sense of massive story shifts throughout the game, though. There were some quests that simply just “failed” if you made a certain decision, and then the game rolled along. One point of frustration was when I traveled to a different area and a quest instantly failed when I left my current area, but there was no warning or indication that it would be failed. There are also options that require your standing to be at a certain level, or else they won’t be available, so even the small, seemingly insignificant choices early on can play a role later.
Co-op play is one of the bright spots that Oricru has. I was able to try out the online co-op mode with a friend and was pleasantly shocked at how easy it was to connect and how decent the gameplay was. Co-op is handled differently in Oricru and, personally, I think more games need to handle multiplayer the way this game does. The second player joins the host’s game as a hologram copy of Silver, and both players use the same equipment pool, so anything collected that isn’t being used can be tried out by player 2. The second player also has freedom to assign stat points as they choose, so they can create a complementary character or try out any sort of build they wish. It does take some time to start co-op since all the gear and stats need to be assigned, but, overall, it’s a neat way to handle co-op.
The game offers local split-screen co-op as well, but I wasn’t able to test that mode prior to writing this. My understanding is that it functions the same way as online co-op. It was very nice to see that there were no disconnect issues; there was some lag that occurred that caused it to look like my friend was attacking the air, but, overall, it was nothing that detracted from the game. It was also welcome that both players had freedom to explore the world on their own. I’m not sure if there is a maximum distance that co-op players can be apart, but if there is, I never encountered it during my playthrough. The one limitation, as expected, is that both players must be in the same zone; players cannot load into a new zone without being in close proximity to each other.
Overall, I don’t think that The Last Oricru is a terrible game. Personally, I think it’s a great concept and has some great bones, but it is too rough around the edges to enjoy. It’s like taking a great looking ribeye and cooking it in a microwave. The meat is amazing, but it’s poorly prepared. The GoldKnights team has communicated that there are patches for both PC and consoles in the works, and they have been collecting bug reports from players in their Discord server. I believe that the future of The Last Oricru will be bright if the developers can address the bugs and other performance issues quickly enough before players move on to other games.
Right now, though, as a $40 USD title, I would personally wait and see what the patches can fix, or wait for a sale to pick it up. If you’re a huge Souls-like fan, there is definitely some enjoyment in the game, but it pales in comparison to other Souls games on the market.