The Last Oricru review (PS5)

Developed by GoldKnights and published by Plaion, The Last Oricru is a new story-driven action RPG for next-gen consoles and PCs. Our review is based on the PlayStation 5 version.

The Last Oricru is the debut title for the developer, whom we met with during Gamescom for a first look and hands-on session with the game, just weeks before the game’s release. The emphasis at the time was on the game’s branching story and how you can influence the flow of the game by small and big decisions and actions that determine your standing with the various factions in the game.

They chose that focus well, as it’s the standout feature in The Last Oricru and the best reason for sticking with it, despite its flaws – which keep the game from shining as brightly as it could have. But let’s back up for a moment first, and explore what the game is actually about.

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Set in an original fantasy universe with sci-fi elements, The Last Oricru casts you as Silver, our hero-to-be who woke up on an alien planet called Wardenia. It’s a place in turmoil, with several factions striving for power and a lot of people who aren’t shying away from violence to get what they want. As a human stranded on a distant planet, you’re in the middle of all this – but you’re also able to align with factions. Most prominent among these are the Noboru and the Ratkin.

The story of the factions living on Wardenia runs parallel to the narrative about the crash of the human space ship that crash landed here. Your space ship’s AI system survived, so you’re basically learning more about your options from that perspective while also learning about the history of the world you’re now in and the people that inhabit it.

The way that these two things intersect, and the role you can play in what unfolds, is impressive. Even a choice that seems trivial in the beginning might prove impactful hours later, and based on which side you pick in a conflict you might have a very different narrative direction on your hands – something that also adds replay value to the game. It’s a shame the delivery doesn’t always do the level of ambition justice though, with so-so writing and ditto voice acting dragging the experience down a little.

The same can be said for the game’s combat, which feels a little sluggish, especially if you prefer ranged weapons – with camera controls that feel counterintuitive and can’t be adjusted (though we imagine that a post-release patch might fix that). Up close, combat feels inspired by the likes of Dark Souls, but rougher around the edges. Lacking the weight of the combat in games like the PS5 exclusive Demon’s Souls, it’s something more akin to a PS3-era action RPG. Not necessarily bad, but less refined than what we’re used to now.

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An interesting novelty comes in how The Last Oricru handles character upgrades. Instead of being able to progress along a normal tech/upgrade tree, you get a pool of upgrade points to (re)allocate as you go along. But while it’s an interesting way to make sure each upgrade comes at a price, it doesn’t make much sense to make your character less smart only to make him stronger in combat.

If combat gets slightly tweaked and optimized post-release, then one of the most interesting features about The Lost Oricru is going to be the fact that it features local split-screen co-op, which is an underused novelty in this genre that we wish got more love. Tackling combat scenarios with a bit of team strategy is always fun, as is methodically taking down some of the tougher bosses in the game.

The Last Oricru feels like a supremely ambitious title that ultimately got released with a fair share of unrealized potential. The fact that it’s being released at a half-price budget range seems to indicate that the publisher thought the same, but we hope that it’ll get a bit more polish post-launch to make this a nice little niche title with an excellent branching narrative. With a few tweaks to the combat we’ll still have some so-so writing and voice acting, but it’ll be a lot more fun to play – especially in combat.

Score: 6.4/10

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