What would you do on your sibling? Would you give them the final cupcake from the packet? How about giving them a experience someplace in the event that they’re caught? Would you let their ghost float alongside you and basically spend each waking second with you? Fortunately for you, that is not a selection it’s a must to make, but it surely’s the scenario through which Soulstice protagonist Briar finds herself.
Briar is a Chimera, a warrior with a spirit sure to them. Collectively along with her sister, Lute, she’s despatched to town of Ilden, over which a “Tear” has appeared. The Tear is bringing in every kind of nasty beasties, so Briar and Lute should work collectively with a view to save town and maybe uncover their mysterious origins as properly.
The story’s setup and execution could also be fairly darkish, however Soulstice is a personality motion game that takes heavy inspiration from old-school semi-fixed digicam affairs like Satan Might Cry. Capcom’s well-known hack-and-slash franchise is understood for being lean, difficult, and very well-crafted, so Soulstice has its work lower out for it. Can it maintain a candle to Dante and his demon-killing antics?
Soulstice Has Some Glorious Fight
Similar to Satan Might Cry, Soulstice mixes linear exploration with hack-and-slash fight. Briar has a sword, which you will use for gentle assaults, and a sequence of secondary weapons that represent heavy assaults. Fight is all about chaining these two collectively, determining what sort of assaults enemies are weak in opposition to, and punishing enemy errors to maximise influence.
At its greatest, the fight is weighty and satisfying. Blows are crunchy and cathartic, particularly with among the heavier weapons Soulstice has to supply. The fist weapon, particularly, has a heft to it that makes it a continuing pleasure to make use of. Combining sword assaults with heavy weapons and watching enemies explode en masse by no means will get previous, and all through its first half, Soulstice introduces new enemies with spectacular frequency.
Sadly, issues begin to collapse within the again half of the game. Whereas the core fight is nice in precept, Soulstice appears to expire of concepts after round seven to eight hours of gameplay. Enemies launched after this era are irritating bullet sponges that take an age to hack aside, and encounters can devolve into tedious grind-fests reasonably than the gleeful sprees of the early game.
At its greatest, the fight is weighty and satisfying.
Boss fights are one other matter, although. Fortunately, they’re normally significantly better than moment-to-moment fights. A few bosses are uninteresting humanoids with pedestrian movesets, however there’s some actual creativity on show elsewhere. I would be giving freely Soulstice‘s surprises if I went into element, however suffice it to say that though there’s nothing right here on the extent of Satan Might Cry‘s boss design, Soulstice delivers in relation to spectacular, climactic boss encounters.
There Are Too Many Mechanics In Soulstice
A part of the explanation for that feeling of grindy repetition in Soulstice‘s second half is its overabundance of extraneous mechanics. There is a diploma of pointless complexity on show right here. Enemies are weak to sure sorts of weaponry, which solely appears to matter among the time; armored enemies completely have to be taken down with the fist weapon, for instance, however regardless of “summoners” being weak to daggers, they by no means felt efficient in opposition to that enemy kind.
Most of Soulstice‘s fight frustrations lie in its Ikaruga-style red-and-blue mechanic. Urgent both set off summons a pink or blue area, and a few enemies can solely be broken inside that area. That is wonderful in precept, however the area runs out after a sure time frame, which might result in irritating wait-and-see moments whilst you anticipate the sphere to recharge. This does not gel properly with the bullet sponge nature of the enemies, because it prolongs fight encounters to the purpose of tedium.
There is a diploma of pointless complexity on show right here.
Soulstice additionally has a parry mechanic, apparently. I say “apparently” as a result of it is simply probably the most underdeveloped a part of the fight. Typically, a immediate will seem over an enemy. Urgent the button causes Lute to do…one thing, which both blocks the incoming assault, freezes time for the enemy, or causes them to stumble. Throughout the whole lot of my 15 hours with Soulstice, I by no means discovered precisely how this parry labored, and it by no means felt satisfying in any respect.
It is a disgrace as a result of when the core fight is given time to shine, it is inordinately satisfying. Soulstice completely nails the load and influence essential to make character motion fight really feel good. It is simply that Soulstice has a dispiriting overreliance on “extra” as a substitute of “totally different”; it does not ask you to differ up the way in which you utilize your instruments, as a substitute selecting to extend well being swimming pools or add pointless further steps to defeat enemies.
The Story In Soulstice Is Intriguing However Overwritten
At first, Soulstice provides an intriguing setup for its narrative. Briar and Lute’s predicament is compelling, and winding via the streets of Ilden with a view to dispatch its corrupted inhabitants is an fascinating process. It does not harm that the game appears to be like completely beautiful; although it has a considerably unsettling character design, its environments are top-notch. Even right here, although, Soulstice falters, as its environments are extremely repetitive; you’ll by no means escape the “snowy fortress” setting, and every thing is solid in a blue-and-orange pallor that feels oppressive, and never in a great way.
Sadly, issues as soon as once more deteriorate in Soulstice‘s second half in relation to the story. It turns into obvious that Soulstice is totally head-over-heels in love with its personal narrative. Each character’s dialogue is massively overwritten; there’s an abundance of tell-don’t-show storytelling right here, and Soulstice simply can not resist interrupting its high-octane motion for cutscenes that drone on far too lengthy.
Regardless of the story being overwritten, it is also underbaked. The revelations and twists all through Soulstice‘s narrative simply did not really feel like revelations to me. I do not need to spoil, however when the explanations behind most of the pivotal occasions in Soulstice have been revealed, I discovered myself shrugging. These causes already appeared apparent to me, and I hoped that Soulstice would supply extra uncommon explanations for its core ideas.
I do not need to spoil Soulstice‘s ending, but it surely’s one other game that does not really feel prefer it concludes the way in which it ought to. All through, occasions level to a determine because the principal instigator, however that is not who you combat as the ultimate boss. As a substitute, Soulstice pulls one other character out of its…erm…hat for the ultimate encounter and sends you in your method. It is supremely unsatisfying and serves as a reasonably bitter word on which to finish a mildly intriguing thriller.
Soulstice | Remaining Ideas
At its core, Soulstice seems like a stable B-tier hack-and-slash game from the PlayStation 3 period. It takes heavy inspiration from Satan Might Cry in its design, fight execution, and stage construction, however due to its Ikaruga color-swapping mechanic, it does handle to search out an id of its personal. Soulstice might run out of concepts earlier than its conclusion and inform a concurrently overwritten and undercooked story, however its wonderful core fight, number of weaponry, and normal retro really feel make it properly value a glance in case you’re a Satan Might Cry fan.
TechRaptor reviewed Soulstice on PC by way of Steam with a duplicate supplied by the writer. It’s also obtainable on PlayStation 5 and Xbox Sequence X|S.