Soulstice game review

Humanity has been in peril since the Ghosts, fearsome and ferocious creatures, crossed the Veil to ravage the world of the living. Spreading terror throughout the region, they seize human souls and you will need more than a leather jacket and motorcycle boots to defeat these evil entities from beyond the grave. Unbridled action, infernal combat and spectacular panoramas, Soulstice cuts to the heart!

While the balance of the Sacred Kingdoms of Keidas hangs by a thread, the Chimeras, warriors born from the union of two souls, are the only ones who can save what is left of humanity. It is in this apocalyptic atmosphere that Briar and Lute, two sisters reincarnated in the form of a Chimera, intervene. If the first is endowed with superhuman strength, the second was sacrificed in order to take on the appearance of an entity capable of all wonders. Even if they are one, it is together that they will survey the lands of the kingdom to annihilate the threat and realize… that the Order, the organization that governs the different Chimeras, does not have everything for them. said. Developed by the Milanese studio Reply Game Studios, Soulstice takes the shape of a beat ’em up (an action game where you progress by resisting waves of enemies) nervous and which has great assets to convince fans of Bayonetta, Nier or even Devil May Cry.

A very real requirement

Soulstice, if it is not as “hermetic” as Dark Souls, remains a demanding game. Very quickly, we have to juggle between the different buttons and the side keys. If the main character, Briar, is controlled with the stick, the title of the Italian developers constantly calls on the mystical skills of his sister. In the middle of a fight, like any Nier or Bayonetta, you have to control the central avatar, but also trigger the actions of the spirit that accompanies it. To support his sister, Lute can counter enemy attacks, cast spells (of greater or lesser power) and above all activate his force fields, evocation and banishment. The latter, of two colors (blue and red), allow you to interact with crystals – to recover the shards that serve as currency – or to undermine the defense of certain normally invincible entities. Several levels of difficulty are available, and this is what allows Soulstice to expand its audience, but the adventure requires a certain dexterity to be able to be carried out from start to finish. As in any soft of the genre, the enemies are more and more voracious and vicious, and it is therefore necessary to progress by recovering as many artifacts as possible.

Fight for the score

Blue and red crystals are used to enhance the weapons and skills of Briar and her host. It is only by exploring each area from top to bottom and by participating in the challenges (dimensional faults responding to specific rules) that we ensure a less painful journey. If necessary, it is possible to redo the courses visited to boost your inventory of crystals. The rhythm is pronounced, the games numerous and we gradually manage to integrate the principle of the force fields, but certain passages are extremely punitive and the choice of colors sometimes does not help to have a clear and limpid action. Undeniably inspired by the classics of the genre, Soulstice is a compelling homage to the fairly hardcore approach. At the end of each fight, the game displays a score (from “iron” to “diamond”) and controller pros will be happy to optimize their performance. When the score is not very good, we naturally come to want to start over to do better. With a convincing lifespan and great generosity, both in the gameplay and the impression of gigantism of the environments, Soulstice does not escape, unfortunately, from faults which will be prohibitive for some people.

Obvious technical concessions

Mixing action and exploration, the game does not have the tenor of a game of 2022 on the technical level. Despite really successful panoramas, there are a number of visual pitfalls. Certain textures seem to come from another time, we constantly have to deal with invisible walls and the hallway syndrome is very pronounced. In addition, inappropriate slowdowns taint the progress and we have the unpleasant impression of evolving in a game that is probably too ambitious at times. But what causes the most problems is the camera. Rarely free, often fixed, it is not always optimal and we come to face hordes of enemies, sometimes hitting the void! We don’t even talk about the camera in exploration where certain angles are so badly thought out that we come to find, as if by a miracle, hidden passages. On this point, the game lacks flexibility and the progression struggles to be instinctive. We come to stick everywhere, the fault of the invisible walls, to find artifacts that would have escaped us.

Soulstice: A Nier and Bayonetta-style action video game that does not lack assets, but...

Because yes, Soulstice is one of those games where the character can jump very high, but he finds himself unable to pass over a small barrier or that kind of thing. It’s a bit as if the title displayed modern graphics, but suffered from the “32-bit” syndrome, this generation of consoles which hosted the first 3D games. Of course, that doesn’t prevent you from having a good time when you like the genre, especially since the artistic direction, very Claymore or Berserk (depending on your references), has been the subject of impressive care (although some elements are far too copied and pasted from one place to another). To take full advantage of it, Soulstice offers three types of display: performance at 60 frames per second, resolution for the display and balanced for a mix of the two. Personally, we chose the latter option to have the best of both worlds.

Soulstice: A Nier and Bayonetta-style action video game that does not lack assets, but...Soulstice: A Nier and Bayonetta-style action video game that does not lack assets, but...

Under these conditions, what can we learn from the experience? Soulstice is the archetype of those games that are endearing and made with love, but which suffer from technical problems that prevent them from achieving the pantheon of the genre they represent. During the progression, the adventure does not lack ideas, both in the enemies, in the puzzles or in the skills of the tree provided for this purpose, but it lacks a better technical and playful basis for stand out. The camera angles are sometimes badly chosen and we come to fight against the game to hope to advance in the story – which, too, takes a long time to take off. It’s a shame because the characters in cel shading (contours around the characters which give a cartoon aspect) and the sometimes sublime decorations show that the game was not lacking in ambition. Probably too…

Conclusion

Strong points

  • Really sumptuous decor in places
  • Claymore’s inspired art direction
  • Nervous and interesting gameplay
  • The principle of two force fields
  • The scoring system for score buffs
  • The dubbing of Stefanie Joosten (Metal Gear Solid 5)
  • The lifespan (25 chapters, many challenges…)

Weak points

  • A fixed camera often badly positioned
  • A scenario that takes forever to take off
  • Lack of visual renewal
  • Too many elements copied and pasted from one area to another
  • Often messy fights

With Soulstice, the developers at Reply Game Studios have probably created their most ambitious game. beat ’em up nervous taking place in a universe reminiscent of the Claymore manga, it plays on the duality of force fields (evocation, banishment) and on a mixture of exploration, puzzles and action for lovers of the genre. Unfortunately, the lack of means is felt over the length and we very often complain about a badly adjusted camera and obvious technical problems (slowdowns, excessive copy-paste, textures from another time…). Not to mention this permanent juggling at the level of the side keys of the controller. In the end, Soulstice is a game far from being uninteresting, but which is reserved for fans of the genre and amateurs of scoring.

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