Indie Soulslike Bleak Faith: Forsaken is a cautionary tale written in jank

If you follow game devs for long enough, you’ll eventually hear them say that it’s a miracle any game gets made. Whether it’s ambition or hubris, there’s something admirable in a three-person indie team choosing a 3D soulslike as their first game release. Less admirable, however, is when that produces a $30 full release for a fundamentally unfinished game—and that’s not even considering illicit animation assets. After four years in development, Bleak Faith: Forsaken (opens in new tab) might look and move like the model if you squint, but it’s a paper-thin illusion that tears as soon as you touch it.

A dense tapestry of jank, woven from bugs of every scale and size

Let me give you the quick Bleak Faith pitch before I start grousing. Broadly speaking, it’s standard Souls dodge-hit-block combat, with a few tweaks of its own and a world that’s a gloomy collision of gothic cathedrals and brutalist concrete. Rather than the genre’s usual RPG progression, your cyborg hero’s stats are all determined by the gear you equip, customized further by slotting in additional stat upgrades. Because there’s no leveling up, dying just costs you progress—there’s no experience currency to lose. I liked the idea: Soulslike combat without the occasional shame of dropping a pile of souls.

If you do a quick survey of Bleak Faith: Forsaken’s Steam page, there’s a compelling vibe there, like if Nier Automata was reduced down into a concrete, rust, and robot depression glaze and poured over a FromSoft aesthetic. And as a known lover of nouns, I have a weakness for placenames like “The Omnistructure.” I was hopeful—this all fits with my palate somewhere. Maybe the trio at Cyprus indie dev Archangel Studios could pull off their own little miracle? Stranger things have happened.

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