Flashback to the summer of 2019, what’s your biggest gaming memory? For some (possibly cursed) readers, that’s probably the announcement of Elden Ring at E3, an upcoming RPG game from Dark Souls creator Hidetaka Miyazaki and Game of Thrones author George R.R. Martin. But that was also the summer when two developers successfully crowdfunded Bleak Faith, a heavily Souls-inspired game with some interesting ideas of its own. The jury’s out on which game we’ll see hit Steam first, but Bleak Faith may have just pulled ahead.
As you’ll see in the trailer, Bleak Faith: Forsaken takes a lot of design cues from the Souls series, particularly in its mournful aesthetics and deliberately-paced melee combat. There are the dreamlike landscapes and forgotten towers, the undead monstrosities that hint at some tragic past. It’s unapologetically inspired by Souls, but look a bit closer and you’ll notice some key differences as well.
Bleak Faith is set in a ruined world, as are the Dark Souls games, but its world is more akin to our own. There are hollow apartment complexes, old rubber air tubes, and a modern-looking compound bow that all hint at a destroyed modern civilisation rather than a high fantasy culture.
In their original Kickstarter campaign, Bleak Souls’ developers explained some of the other ideas they were building into their game. One of those is a simulated ecosystem, in which factions and fauna compete without the player’s involvement. No two playthroughs will be the same, they wrote, as enemies will adapt and the food chain will shift as different powers grow or diminish.
The trailer shows off some of the brutal combat in Bleak Faith, as well as its desolate world. In one scene, the character looks out over a landscape of arched spires. In another, a huge flying worm emerges from the desert dunes as a sandstorm begins to form.
Bleak Faith has slipped its initial release date target – the developers had hoped to have an early access build ready by September of 2019, but both COVID-19 and their own ambitions for the game have pushed that back. The last Kickstarter update projected an early release of late 2020, which again has come and gone.
— Bleak Faith (@bleak_faith) May 24, 2021
Now the team is preparing to publish a Steam page for Bleak Faith, so we may be finding out more about the game very soon – at least if things go according to plans the developers have posted to the official Bleak Faith Twitter account, which is projecting a release date of some time this year.
So which Soulslike game are we going to get our hands on first, Bleak Faith or Elden Ring? Hopefully we’ll at least know the answer to that question before long.