Enotria The Last Song: we tried Project Galileo, the Italian souls

“Summer-Soul” is certainly a captivating definition. A declaration of intent, a representationconcise but effective, of what embodies the atmosphere of Enotria: The Last Song, the final name of the game until now was known as Project Galileo. The colors of summer, those warm and anxious of life, paint a world that instead of life has no more: this is why Enotria is yes a souls, ready to tell, as the tradition of FromSoftware teaches, a kingdom in ruins, desperate and annihilated, yet saturated with colors, in an almost festive atmosphere, where the primary element is the theater, that of the masks, of the commedia dell’arte.

There is a pinch of Italy, therefore, at the Tokyo Game Show 2022, where we were able to try a pre-alpha demo of Jyamma Games’ souls-like. It should be noted that, at the moment, Enotria in terms of gameplay is still rather incomplete, a sort of “canvas” that will be enriched over time: the Italian team, however, has no intention of improvising, and indeed has rather clear ideas on the distinctive aspects that will enrich the project. The curtain rises, then: we go on stage.

Italian death

Reality has been torn apart. The world of Enotria is now disputed between two different representations, scourged by the so-called “Canovaccio” curse, imposed on the realm by mysterious craftsmen that we will have to “unmask” during the adventure. That the theater, as already mentioned, both the leitmotif of the game is now self-evidentjust think that one of the main bosses to be eliminated is a grotesque and disturbing reinterpretation of Zanni, the first mask, who in the lore of Enotria founded the theater academy, and is one of the creators of the aforementioned Canovaccio.

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It is certainly not the only element that puts the game in contact with Italian folklore, think for example of a mini boss named Curtis – The prince of laughter, or the “petals of Maia”, the pre-Roman goddess of fertility. Jyamma Games therefore seems to have summarized the popular and mythological imagery of Italy within a dangerous and destroyed fantasy micro cosmos, yet not dark or gloomy, far from the artistic matrices of the Gothic style to become an ode to the art of the beautiful country. Although the use of the Unreal Engine certainly has room for improvement (it is good to reiterate, however, that we are facing a pre-alpha), on the aesthetic side Enotria presents valuable solutions, including continuous references to the Bel Paese, even of a purely geographical nature. that we leave you the pleasure of discovering, and architectural and sound choices that infuse the experience with a daring and passionate character.

The TGS 2022 demo was articulated along two different levels: the first took the form of a medieval village, saturated with colors, frescoes inspired by Giotto’s works (specially designed and full of elements of lore), churches and alleys; the second, on the other hand, led us into the depths, between the meshes of a luxuriant forest, where the Mantelloni, spirits of monks who remained trapped between the Canovaccio and reality, moved.

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Furthermore, each area has two types of bosses: on the one hand the secondary ones, connected to Italian folklore, while on the other the main ones, closely linked to Canovaccio and history. As expected, there will not be a linear narrative to accompany the story of Enotria: the language is that of a souls-like, even if in this case the cryptic does not necessarily go hand in hand with the lack of talkativeness. The bosses – Zanni in particular – they also seem reluctant to hold the language in check, and each line of dialogue seems to be designed to express the personality of the speaker.

How ardent this gameplay is

Enotria does not hide in any way its inspiration from From Software’s masterpieces, from the level design full of shortcuts, to the presence of the Trees of Harmony (the equivalent of bonfires), passing through the loss of “Memories” after death, with attached need to recover them at the place of departure. Even the patterns of the enemies follow rules that we have come to know in the Souls, both in terms of the timing of the attack, both for their positioning in the area. In short, apart from the much more vibrant color rangeat first glance the essence of Miyazaki’s works is immediately recognized in Enotria.

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Inspiration, however, is immediately followed by an element of distinction, which goes beyond the simple chromatic differentiation. In the Jyamma Games game, poised between two realities, the protagonist – known as the Mask of Change – can alternate between two states: the normal one and the one that charges him with Ardore. In this second case, specifically, the user’s avatar can exploit new abilities both in combat and in the course of exploration.

During the Ardor phase, for example, some enemies can become more aggressive, incorporeal objects take on texture, and portions of the area take shape to reveal otherwise impassable paths. Generating a wave of ardor also allows some scenic elements to react when necessary, and this mechanic will be one of the pivots of the puzzles that will mark part of our wandering. From what we’ve got to see, the macro-areas of Enotria are by no means restrictedand offer a good margin of maneuver to induce us to visit them in every ravine, perhaps to find a rare weapon, or to identify new fragments of lore.

The use of Ardore also has concrete effects on the gameplay: in normal state we have the ability to “destabilize the reality” of the enemies, indicated by a bar placed under the waist, which makes the opponents more powerful, and at the same time more vulnerable to our assault in Ardore.

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An enhancement that we will therefore have to activate at the right time to have a better chance of taking down the toughest targets. On paper, the variables to be taken into account are many, and their effectiveness is still to be demonstrated. First of all, it is necessary to take into consideration the concrete effectiveness of the Lines (the jokes) that they are more or less the equivalent of the Dark Souls Spells. In the demo available there was only a sort of magic crossbow, the use of which was obviously subject to a reload time: its value in the play economy is relevant because Jyamma Games has excluded any wide-range weapon from the equipment, and to attack from a distance it will therefore be necessary to take advantage of Lines and Spells. The focus on hand-to-hand combat is then made evident by the plethora of offensive instruments supplied, some of which are undoubtedly faithful to their Italian character (has anyone thought of a mandolin with which to bludgeon enemies?).

The parade and the high guard, by default, are not present: the protagonist in fact embraces a buckler, well known to those who are connoisseurs of medieval fencing, whose usefulness is linked to the activation of the parry. Be careful, however, because there is a way to block enemy shots, and it can only be obtained after unlocking in one of the six branches of talents. Jyamma Games’ goal with the skill tree is to create diversified play styles.

It is a very ambitious goal, still in progress, but branched into six paths: Value (which transforms the character into a very aggressive warrior), Grace (which prefers the stealth approach), Curiosity (linked to creation skills), Strategy (mainly focused on elemental strength), Creativity (ie Wisdom) and finally Tenacity (which makes the avatar a sort of Tank, thanks to which you can replace the parry with a full-fledged parry).

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To complete all the branches it will be necessary to earn two distinct types of currency, on the one hand the aforementioned memories, while on the other the inspiration points, which will be obtained by learning more and more details about the game world and sifting through the compendium that contains various information about Enotria and its lore.

Up until now we have refrained from expressing an opinion on the gameplay of the game because, on balance, the presentation of the team, despite the fact that we personally held the controller, was more a general overview of the contents than a real test.

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The pre-alpha version still has, as it should be, ample room for refinement to be playable smoothly, like an input lag and an imprecise management of the hitboxes, which in a souls-like with certainly not contained difficulty risk being fatal. If we exclude the interesting mechanics of the Ardore, in any case, the feeling of Enotria is similar to that of Dark Souls: the attacks must be weighted according to the moveset of the enemies, the awareness of the response times is essential in order not to remain helpless under the opponent’s blows, and basically the variety of creatures encountered in the first two areas – with attached bosses with an undoubtedly intriguing design – seemed to us quite satisfactory.

Between elements that can be combined to maximize damage (wine + fire is a combo that the team is very proud of), density of the explorable world and an elaborate tree of talents, Enotria is proposed as a product with very layered ambitions. The almost light-hearted approach to art design contrasts with the fierce complexity of a Souls characterized by a soul all of his own.

We hope at this point that the videogame pi├Ęce of Jyamma Games may end his show amid applause. For now we have only witnessed the “rehearsals”, and we are waiting for the complete performance.

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Enotria The Last Song: we tried Project Galileo, the Italian souls

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