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Saviorless review – Atmospheric but frustrating

Saviorless review
Image: Dear Villagers

A 2D platformer set in a dark fantasy world, Saviorless is a bit of a feast for the eyes. With its hand-drawn art and sublime animation, chances are you’ll be captivated from the get-go, especially when also combined with the game’s atmospheric soundtrack. It’s just a shame that, as you spend more time with it, its gameplay pushes you away.

Saviorless follows the story of a young boy called Antar who’s travelling to the Smiling Islands in the hopes of becoming a Savior. But of course, his journey isn’t easy. First he has to contend with a radiant heron that stands in his path. Then there are giant worms. More adversaries await, too, as well as a wealth of environmental hazards that will push Antar’s abilities to the limit.

You’ll not be in control of Antar for the whole of Saviorless, however. Sometimes you’ll take control of the antagonist of this tale, Nento. This merciless hunter also wishes to become a Savior, but what will he do with such power? Moments playing as Nento are brief, and instead of being puzzle-laden they’re more focussed on combat. Don’t go expecting anything fancy, though. Combat here is very basic: it’s simply a case of moving to avoid enemy attacks before moving in to smash the attack button to put an enemy down for good.

Saviorless review
Image: Dear Villagers

The basic nature of the combat actually becomes an issue further into the game, where Antar can momentarily become a Savior by interacting with what appear to be Altars. You’ll need to kill enemies quickly and skilfully, and also reach another device that returns you back to your normal form before time runs out. You can only stay in your Savior form for so long until you simply die, unfortunately. But with combat being so basic, the frequency of these fights become a bit of a drag.

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In fact, Saviorless is a game that gets worse as you progress in general. In the early stages, when the gameplay is focused on platforming and puzzling with few enemies or hazards to bother you, it’s very enjoyable indeed. With Antar being able to take just one hit before meeting his demise, however, as more enemies are introduced and puzzles become more dangerous, a process of trial and error creeps in with regards to making progress.

Saviorless screenshot
Image: Dear Villagers

This wouldn’t be too bad in itself if Saviorless just didn’t feel unfair at times. Rushing up the inside of a tree to avoid a foe in hot pursuit requires almost perfect timing to succeed, for example. And too many times does death result in you having to click through lines of dialogue or watch a short scene before you can take control of Antar again.

If you have patience and persistence, Saviorless will reward you with a fairly engaging story backed up with gorgeous visuals and a lovely soundtrack. If you dislike progress being made by trial and error, however, and prefer your gameplay to be more fleshed out, it’s perhaps one to miss. Starting out as a fairly chill adventure, Saviorless simply gets more frustrating as you progress, with little in the way of reward.

This review of Saviorless is based on the PS5 version, with a code provided by the game’s publisher. It’s available on PS5, Switch and PC.

Saviorless review - GameSpew's score

6 10 0 1
Saviorless is a beautiful game: its 2D art style remains gorgeous throughout. It's just a shame that its gameplay doesn't stay as enjoyable. What starts out as a rather fun puzzle-platformer eventually devolves into an exercise in frustration thanks to one hit kills and too much reliance on trial and error.
Saviorless starts out strong, but as the gameplay progresses too much trial and error is involved which sucks out the fun.
Total Score
Editor in Chief // An avid gamer since discovering the wonders of the Acorn Electron in the '80s, Rich has nearly played more games than he's had hot dinners. Not one to put all his eggs in one basket, Rich is happy to play games of all genres, but he particularly enjoys racing games and anything that's full of non-stop action, especially if it includes a good dose of humour, horror or crudeness!