Play news State of mind: when Bersærk meets DMC, what happens then?
It is with great ambition that Reply Game Studios got started with Soulstice. This dark fantasy hack’n’s slash was shown at the Future Games Show at gamescom 2021. This year, it was the PC Gaming Show that honored Keidas’ dark world. Before the conference, we were able to discover the first minutes of the game and we’ll tell you all today.
- A Little Berserk and Claymore in AD
- More Bayonetta than Dark Souls
- Easy to play, hard to master
It was during a castle with several developers of the title that we were able to discover the first 20 minutes of the title, as well as some other elements. This annotated gameplay session was followed by a question-and-answer session to clarify certain points about the game.
Briar and Lute are two sisters brought together by fate in a very special way. It is in the form of a chimera that their two souls have been connected to repel the terrible Wraiths from the other side of the veil. The former became a warrior with impressive strength, while the latter sacrificed his body to become a ghost with mighty powers. Through this quest, made up of fights of all kinds, it is an introductory and poetic tale of this unbreakable bond that unites these two sisters that Soulstice proposes to tell us.
A Little Berserk and Claymore in AD
Despite its small resources, the studio provides us with a graphically accomplished universe. We feel it’s certainly not a triple A, but Soulstice is far from ugly to look at. He skillfully plays with colors to offer us an engaging atmosphere and a believable world that we would like to discover. Everything is carried by a masterful soundtrack that ends up transporting us completely to the Fire.
Soulstice does not hide its Japanese inspirations (from Berserk on Claymore) and pay tribute to them a beautiful tribute. Dark fantasy is very much alive there and allows us to survey the linear levels of this title with the greatest pleasure. There is also a nod to MGS with the return of a voice known by fans. It is indeed Stefanie Joosten (Quiet in Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain) who gives her voice to Briar and Luce.
Visually, the only point we could find fault with is a few not particularly inspired enemies. Beyond that, the developers give us a coherent and noticeable universe. And it’s better as they promise us a world that is inextricably linked to the title’s story and gameplay. In short, our environment and the atmosphere it emits should be increasingly tortured, to reflect the dramatic efforts being made out there.
Note that Soulstice has regularly chosen to switch between 2D and 3D. This makes it possible in a pleasant way to spice up and put an end to the gaming experience. This is also the case for the platform phases and the small puzzles that connect one combat phase with another. And as we talk about them, it’s time to move on to what’s at the heart of this game: the combat phases.
More Bayonetta than Dark Souls
After writing this feedback, we were able to get our fingers in the game for about twenty minutes. We were able to identify some interesting points, such as the connection between the two sisters that the gameplay is clearly built around, and its really engaging atmosphere. The combat mechanics are comfortable and, as we suspected, it fluctuates well between accessibility and the search for the perfect combination. However, the same cannot be said of the boss fight we presented, which is too repetitive and protracted.
However, the game still contains some lengths and suffers especially from small camera errors. Unfortunately, they are going to tarnish a pretty enjoyable gaming experience in the beginning. It remains to be seen if Soulstice balances over time or if it gets heavier over the fights.
Despite what the title might suggest, Soulstice is smaller a Souls than a Bayonetta. The developers have also mentioned the license as one of their inspirations, from which they have adapted Dodge’s mechanics. We therefore end up with dynamic battles, which are based on the order of battles and combinations to overcome the hordes of monsters that present themselves to you and thus gain a pack of experience. (in short the good big classic codes for hack’n’slash). But that is not to say that Soulstice presents itself as yet another game in the genre, with no way to stand out.
The title of Reply Game Studios, by immersing yourself in the skin of a chimera consisting of two bodies, offers double gameplay. If you play and control Briar, Lute will also be able to help you by protecting you or even attacking certain enemies from a distance. But in addition to two or three specific mechanics that are simply operated using a key, Lute is mostly played by AI. Thus, most of his spells will be triggered automatically, depriving you of the joy of enjoying real double play. We therefore regret not being able to take advantage of Lute’s features, or that it is not utilized through a two-player co-op mode.
On the other hand, it would be ungrateful to complain about the lack of mechanics on the Soulstice side. From what little we’ve seen, Briar has many different moves and no less than seven weapons. Switching from one to the other allows you to perform fairly classic combos and to attack all types of enemies (Wraiths, Possessed, etc.) in the most effective way. You can add a Fury mode to all of this, allowing you to let your dark side speak to destroy your opponents. During the presentation, each match turned out to be different from the previous one. It remains to be seen whether this noticeable effect will last over the course of the game.
But of course you will not be able to get the most out of all these mechanics from your first minutes of play. You will need a good portion of practice to take advantage of the most spectacular attacks.
Easy to play, hard to master
The game is not meant to be specifically difficult, as it mixes advanced mechanics with other simpler and more accessible ones. The very first areas have few enemies and they will not really give you a hard time. At first glance, Soulstice is therefore not a particularly demanding game. The developers told us about a gradual difficulty that will increase as you evolve and develop your chimera, but it is not enough to step an Elden ring over your toes.
However, the progression system seems particularly complete. It is with Layton (your mentor) that you can use the accumulated points to improve your skills. These are divided into two axes: the one corresponding to Briar’s attack and the one applying Lute’s abilities. Both seem quite consistent and should allow the gameplay to evolve in interesting ways, we hope at least.
In addition, the many mechanics that Soulstice offers provide plenty of room for improvement. Mastering the various combinations and switching weapons effectively will not only allow you to fully enjoy the battles, but also achieve the perfect score. Each match phase ends with a score and achievement of a rank, depending on the attacks used, the speed of execution or the damage suffered. Note that after each mission / level you get a more overall score. If you die, this score will be reduced. Suffice it to say that if you are a fan of Perfect, there will be plenty to do in Soulstice. It is still unknown whether this will require a restart of the game initially, or whether it will be possible to repeat each mission individually. In any case, this point will definitely make it possible to replay the title to gain interest.
Reply Games Studio offers us an enticing concept, but whose quality can not yet be fully assessed. It is therefore still unknown whether the Italian developers will be able to exploit its full potential. As a reminder, Soulstice will be available on PC, PS5 and Xbox Series in the fall of 2022.