Home Japanese warriors Soulstice review: An enjoyable AA throwback with one fatal flaw

Soulstice review: An enjoyable AA throwback with one fatal flaw

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“Soulstice’s terrible camera holds back an otherwise ambitious and inspired action game.”

Advantages

  • Creative game innovations

  • Fluid Combat

  • Interesting characters and story

The inconvenients

  • Horrible camera

  • Lack of adjustment variety

I often see people lamenting that the mid-budget AA games that dominated the original PlayStation 2 and Xbox era no longer exist, but that couldn’t be further from the truth in the 2020s. Publishers like THQ Nordic, Focus Entertainment, Nacon, and Modus Games give small and medium-sized studios the budgets to create ambitious, even highly polished games. As such, I find the games from these publishers to be some of the most interesting on the market, so I was particularly intrigued by the action fantasy from Modus Games and Reply Game Studios. soulstice.

An Italian game studio has developed soulsticebut it looks like something that would have come from a Japanese developer on PS2 or PS3 in the 2000s. Although its title and setting may lead you to believe that it is a Soulslike, in reality, this game plays like Devil May Cry and many action titles from PlatinumGames. soulstice is far from perfect due to its terrible camera and lack of diverse environments, but it’s so genuinely inspired and creative that I recommend anyone who’s intrigued check it out.

The ties that unite

From the start, soulstice does not hide his inspiration. As the start of Bayonet, players fight hordes of enemies at full strength on a seemingly endlessly falling platform. After a climactic showdown against a powerful foe, things slow down as the game shifts back to protagonists Briar and Lute who slowly make their way to Ilden, a town completely destroyed by a tear in the sky.

In this world, people pass “beyond the veil” when they die, but something has caused this veil to spread over the city, killing or corrupting everyone in it. Briar and Lute are a Chimera, a super-powered warrior created after they nearly died and were fused together against their will, and are sent to Ilden to investigate and deal with the threat. It’s a gripping and intriguing opener, and while the voice acting might sound campy, Soulstice’s the world and characters are carefully fleshed out in a way that should appeal to those who enjoy digging into video game lore.

soulstice is fun, although its gameplay has one major hiccup.

Its presentation and cinematography also draw inspiration from anime and manga like Berserk and Claymore, with heavily armored warriors and giant swords galore. His story also has surprisingly deep themes around toxic relationships, whether with people or organizations, and soulstice is packed to the brim with cutscenes in between all the action. Mid-budget games often struggle to tell consistently engaging stories, but it’s a place soulstice don’t fail. The budget is mainly seen in the voice acting and the lack of variety of sets.

Almost all of soulstice takes place within Ilden, and while it’s a well-made setting, it lacks visual pop for much of the experience. Ilden is a very gray town, and most of the game takes place in medieval cobbled streets, buildings and sewers that aren’t too distinct from each other. This is noticeable compared to developers like PlatinumGames, who are generally good at constantly changing the game’s setting and visual formula to keep things appealing.

Briar and Lute attack a giant floating head in Soulstice.

soulstice has a few visually-shattering moments, but its limited setting leaves me craving a globe-trotting adventure if it becomes a series. But in a game like this, the action that takes place in these spaces is the most important thing. Fortunately, soulstice is fun, although its gameplay has one major hiccup.

Light, camera, action

soulstice often feels like a PS2 action game in the best possible way. Players will face off against waves of enemies in fast-paced combat that rewards players for landing massive combos and is rated for their performance at the end of each encounter. Combat is a bit slower than something like Bayonet but feels good like soulstice also incorporates a number of unique mechanics into this legendary action game formula.

It is an in-depth action system that any fan of the genre can appreciate as it brings new ideas to the table.

Most of them focus on Lute, Briar’s younger sister, who is magically bonded to her as a shadow. Lute will attack enemies on its own, but players can also control it to prevent or deflect certain powerful hits. Some soulstice enemies are also color coded blue and red. Briar’s regular attacks bounce off these enemies, so players should have Lute create an Evocation Field to damage blue enemies or a Banishment Field to damage red enemies with Lute. These cannot last forever, however, as Lute’s entropy slowly depletes and can eventually cause her to disappear completely for a short time if she runs out.

battles in soulstice are a constant balance between enabling and disabling these fields to create your combos and increase the unity of Briar and Lute. At max Unity, players can use a special synergy attack when combos end or become Berserk, which massively powers them up for a while and removes the need for fields. If they’re low on health when you do this, it can potentially kill the player if they complete a quick minigame while Briar is attacking on her own. Overall, this is an in-depth action system that any fan of the genre can appreciate as it brings new ideas to the table. There is only one problem: soulstice has one of the worst cameras I’ve seen in years.

Lute uses an evocation field against enemies in Soulstice.

Whenever a close combat occurs near a wall in a fight where players can control the camera, Soulstice’s the camera has an adjustment. And since Ilden is a city with many gigantic walls, you can see how much of a problem this becomes. The camera will get stuck and not pointing in the right direction, so it becomes difficult to see who or where you are attacking. The lock system is also pitiful, as it spins the camera wildly if an enemy is knocked back or one is killed and the locked camera moves to a new enemy. These camera issues exponentially increase the difficulty of certain encounters, namely those against an enemy type that is best attacked from behind and spawns other enemies that attempt to revive it when it dies.

Really AA

Whether it’s due to a lack of experience in the genre or just something the developers couldn’t fix before launch, these camera issues are holding the game back and preventing me from recommending it to anyone. it would be. If you’re an action game fan who’s already learned how to deal with bad cameras, this is otherwise a creative take on a classic action game subgenre.

Briar battles an abomination in Soulstice.
This enemy is super annoying to shoot down because of the terrible camera.

At a time when copying the Soulslike formula is all the rage, it’s nice to play something reminiscent of the type of action game that was once more popular. Bayonet 3 will probably eat this game’s lunch in a month if it has a little more depth and AAA polish, but until then, soulstice offers an interesting alternative with a lot of creativity and passion that exceeds its weight.

While it’s not amazing, I’m glad the AA scene is healthy enough that we’re getting games like soulstice. He has a unique vision for a game and executes it wholeheartedly. He’s willing to take a risk and put a western twist on a predominantly Japanese subgenre. And although the camera issues hold soulstice Returning from the confrontation with the greats of the genre, fans of the classic action games of the 2000s will appreciate a confident game that comes to their senses.

Digital trends reviewed soulstice on PC.

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