Flintlock: The Siege of Dawn is a Soulslite with gunpowder fantasies

Featuring a badass warrior and an adorable fox-like god, Flintlock combines Dark Souls with more traditional action-adventure games.

A44 Games

Flintlock: The Siege of Dawn has made significant progress since I last saw the game at GDC 2024. At the time, developer A44 Games, an indie studio based in New Zealand, showed off a one-hour hands-off demo that had protagonist Nor Vanek vanquishing monsters using her slick ax-and-pistol fighting style. The gameplay for this third-person action-adventure was described as a “Soulslite,” but I found it difficult to determine what that meant without getting any hands-on time. Fortunately, I have been given a playable demo that features the first few hours of the game, and thus far, it is off to a promising start.

No rest till Dawn

Flintlock The Siege of Dawn Guardian Door
The winged beast guardian is none too pleased to find mortals at its door.

SOURCE: Shacknews

Sometimes sacrifices don’t work out. In the opening prologue of this flintlock fantasy, Nor Vanek is irritated that she has not been ordered to help Baz, her mentor and father figure, destroy the Door to the Great Below. Ten years ago, this supernatural entranceway appeared in the city of Dawn and unleashed hordes of undead that the Coalition army has been fighting ever since. As one of the best Sappers, a cross between a commando and demolitions expert, Nor is able to convince her field marshal to assist in the mission and muscles through the trenches toward the advance squad.

After forcing her way on Baz’s team, Nor runs toward the fabled Door but finds it defended by a towering, two-faced beast speaking an unknown language. Though Nor fights valiantly and the squad is able to plant explosive barrels next to the door, the powerful guardian blocks their passage. One of the Sappers, pinned down by the beast’s talons, chooses to fire at the barrels in a last-ditch effort, causing a gigantic explosion that knocks Nor out.

She is awakened some time later by a fox-like entity named Enki who rescued her from the river miles away from the blast. This lesser god, or at least that’s what he seems to be, tells her that the door was indeed destroyed as they intended, but this has only made it possible for the old gods to be unleashed upon the world. Though Nor is none too pleased to be aided by a god, she begrudgingly agrees to work with Enki to send the evil deities back to whence they came.


Flintlock The Siege of Dawn Rift Jumping
Enki gives Nor the ability to jump into triangular rifts to cross wide gaps in the environment.

SOURCE: Shacknews

Although deicide is no easy task, Nor has many weapons and abilities at her disposal. Black powder, for an unknown reason, is a natural weakness of the gods, and Enki has several powers that give her an edge in combat. With the fox’s blessing, the Sapper can jump multiple times in the air, allowing her to reach cliffs and put her out of reach. She can also access triangular rift portals that make traversing longer gaps a breeze. More importantly, Enki can mark enemies for death, making it easier for Nor to land critical hits and unleash deathblows. Better yet, the fox has Withering ultimate abilities, like a storm that deals a high amount of AoE damage, which can save Nor if she’s surrounded.

Collectively, these additional techniques make fights in Flintlock easier to navigate relative to combat in other Soulslike games. Fans of the genre will be able to transfer their skills over with ease, pulling enemies to separate them from a group, circle-strafing around foes, and parrying telegraphed attacks. Unblockable strikes, marked in red, can be interrupted using pistol fire, but the main way to regain ammo is to hit enemies with a melee attack.

That said, I was able to locate a treasure chest with a pair of gauntlets that would regain black powder every time Enki hits an enemy. This allowed me to use a keepaway strategy against bosses and shielded enemies, using Nor’s aerial mobility to put her out of reach and let them leave themselves vulnerable to a quick counter. I got through the demo on Normal without much trouble, though it took a handful of tries to defeat an optional boss called the Stone Herald. Players can also adjust the difficulty by switching to the harder Possessed setting or the easier Story setting, which disables Achievements but provides the option to turn on infinite health.

A kindred Dark Soul

Flintlock The Siege of Dawn Inaya Shrine
While exploring the world, Nor can locate these Inaya Shrines that will increase her max health.

SOURCE: Shacknews

Similar to Dark Souls bonfires, checkpoints in Flintlock restore Nor’s health flasks and respawn enemies on the map. Additionally, they refill ammo for her pistol and secondary arms, such as sniper rifles, and provide fast travel points on the map. This makes it easier to hop around the world and gain a currency called reputation by grinding areas. Reputation is mainly accumulated by defeating enemies, completing quests, and winning matches of a coin-based mini-game called Sabo, though it is dropped on the ground if the player perishes. Reaching the body again after respawning will collect any reputation lost on that run. More interestingly, a multiplier for reputation climbs as Nor defeats enemies while using stylish moves and not getting hit. It’s a risk to try building this multiplier, though, so it’s important to bank reputation before the chain is broken.

While Nor doesn’t level up in the traditional sense, she has multiple avenues for upgrades. Reputation is spent on earning skills in three distinct trees, which passively increase her melee, ranged, and magical attacks. Finding resources in the environment, like wood, iron, and sulfur, will allow Baz back at camp to increase the overall power of her weapons and firearms. While the world is fairly linear, in the demo at least, going off the beaten path often leads to treasure chests with rare equipment or Inaya Shrines that increase Nor’s maximum health. Clearing hamlets of enemy leaders restores the settlement, giving her the chance to speak with hosts who provide side quests, customization options, and an additional health flask. All told, Flintlock offers enough variations on the Dark Souls formula to make it feel distinct.

Flintlock: The Siege of Dawn is slated to release in the summer during Q3 2024 for Xbox Series X|S, PS5, and PC via Steam.

This preview is based on a hands-on PC demo on Steam provided by the developer.

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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