Flintlock: The Siege of Dawn aims to be a fast and fluid Dark Souls

Published by Kepler Interactive, this new action RPG from A44 Games combines challenging combat with flashy parries and swift movement.

A44 Games

A44 Games, a developer based in New Zealand that released Ashen in 2019, has been working on Flintlock: The Siege of Dawn for more than six years. Inspired by the flintlock fantasy genre (hence, the name), this single-player action RPG takes elements from Dark Souls and the God of War reboot while maintaining its own identity. At a closed door presentation during GDC 2024, A44 Games showed off a 45-minute hands-off demo that saw the elite soldier Nor Vanek fight against gods and the undead throughout the expansive world of Kian. And so far, it looks to be on the right track.

Besieged but not broken

Flintlock The Siege of Dawn Rifle Firearm Gun
If the gods get testy, fire a gun at them.

SOURCE: A44 Games

Flintlock begins with an unintentional mistake. The Door to the Great Beyond has been opened in the city of Dawn, releasing the army of the dead and a wave of pestilence throughout the land. Nor Vanek, a demolitions expert and elite soldier in the Coalition army, tries to repel this scourge alongside her fellow Blackstream Sappers. But the team ends up accidentally scattering the old gods across Kian. So now it’s up to her, alongside a fox-like entity named Enki, to reform her battalion and destroy the gods to save humanity. It’s not clear what the mercurial entity Enki truly wants, but allies are in short supply (and besides, it's adorable).

Nor Vanek’s journey will take her across three major regions of Kian. The developers showed various snippets of these areas, including the mountainous Three Peaks and the earthen canyon of Wanderer’s Rest. Getting through the main storyline will take roughly 12 to 15 hours, tilting more on the longer end if it’s played on Normal rather than Story Mode. Completing all of the side quests will push a runthrough well past the 20-hour mark, and given that Nor Vanek can earn rare armor pieces and permanent upgrades for doing so, it’s worth finishing as much side content as possible.

By the grace of black powder

Flintlock The Siege of Dawn Wanderer's Rest Region

One region of Kian called Wanderer's Rest is based on Mesopotamia architecture.

SOURCE: A44 Games 

Defeating the gods isn’t an easy task for a mere mortal, but Nor Vanek has many abilities at her disposal. Successfully surviving in combat requires effective dodging and parrying. Some enemy attacks highlighted red will not be blockable but a handful can be interrupted with a shot from the flintlock, a black powder weapon that has the ability to hurt the gods. Hitting enemies will slowly restore black powder charges, so players will need to engage in melee to have the opportunity to parry. Powerful secondary firearms, such as rifles and mortars, have limited shots that can be restored at a bonfire.

Beyond physical strikes, Enki can be commanded to use its magical abilities against enemies, applying its curse of death. This is effective against foes at a distance or soldiers with armor. A purple meter above an opponent fills each time Nor and Enki land a successful cursed attack on it, and when the meter is full, Nor may immediately kill an unarmored enemy or strip one layer of armor off. The fox’s ability to apply curses can be enhanced further with various cursed stones that apply poison, weakness, and other status effects. If that weren’t enough, Enki grants Nor finishers called Withering abilities that inflict an incredible amount of damage when used at the proper moment.

Living up to her reputation

Flintlock Siege of Dawn Host Side Quest
Each city or town has a host, usually waiting in a tavern, who can provide Nor with rumors of side quests.

SOURCE: A44 Games 

Altogether, fighting in Flintlock is an intricate, rhythmic dance where players need to learn enemy patterns, which can change at various phases during a boss fight. The fluidity and reactivity of the combat is more like God of War than Dark Souls, but it’s still important to be deliberate instead of mashing buttons. Movement across the map is swifter too, with Nor being able to use black powder to enhance her rolls and jumps. She can also reach high points marked by purple dots in a flash for quick traversal.

Drawing from the Dark Souls series, Nor Vanek can rest near a bonfire and earn reputation as a currency for defeating enemies. Spending reputation will enhance her abilities along three different skill trees and trading it with various vendors will give her better weapons and armor as well as more customization options. Players who are especially talented at dodging and using a variety of moves will gain a multiplier for reputation that builds like the style meter from Devil May Cry. Getting hit once will reset the multiplier back to zero, but players can bank reputation with the current multiplier whenever they see fit. While dying will cause her to lose all reputation, she will respawn at the nearest bonfire, which are usually conveniently placed near a boss fight so that she doesn’t have to repeat areas to face it again.

Flintlock: The Siege of Dawn is set to release in Summer 2024 for PS5, Xbox Series X|S, and PC via Epic Games Store and Steam. It will also arrive day one on Xbox Game Pass.

This preview is based on a hands-off PC demo at a private meeting during GDC 2024.

Contributing Editor

Once upon a time, Nick's parents confiscated his Super Nintendo because he was "playing it too much." He has secretly sworn revenge ever since. Nick is now a freelance writer for various video game sites. Powered by iced green tea, he typically plays RPGs of all kinds like Shin Megami Tensei, Elder Scrolls, and Fallout. In his spare time, he follows the latest season of Critical Role.

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