Soulstice’s story makes it more than just an ordinary hack and slash

Briar propped her chin like a main character in an anime.

Picture: Reply Game Studios

In the middle of the fall game season, it’s easy to lose track of games that aren’t hot new from big-name studios or haven’t received enough advertising to capture people’s attention. Despite this fact, a dark action-adventure game not only captured my attention but exceeded my expectations, proving itself more than another derivative game paying homage to important to his contemporaries.

Soulstice, by Reply Game Studios, is a hack-and-slash action game. You will play as both Briar, a stoic swordswoman whose demonic curse threatens to overtake her, and her older sister Lute, a ghost-like creature that can create barriers and create beams of light. light to protect his sister from enemies. Their mission is to seal the skylight-like tear that forms in the midst of a war-torn kingdom and defeat the townspeople who have turned into monsters under the influence of the teardrop. Basically, you can have a hard time not thinking about Soulstice like Berserk comics with a little bit Claymore.

And yes, the comparison with those anime is appropriate. On paper, you can also draw similarities between Soulstice and other stylish action games where heroes fight hordes of enemies from other kingdoms, games like Bayonetta and Devil May Cry. However, Soulstice differentiates itself from those games by telling a compelling story that doesn’t back down in its fight.

Like his contemporaries, SoulsticeIts combat features light and heavy attacks, loads of weapons that you can seamlessly switch between, loads of Lovecraftian-inspired bosses for you to tear and rip, and statuses temporary tame where you deal more damage to enemies. Where it deviates in both its gameplay and its love story is with Lute, Briar’s older sister who acts as the controller of the emotional compass. Soulstice stay away from being a mundane copy of older hack-and-slash games.

At first, Lute dragging her ghost-like legs during the carnage she and her sister had to trudge through makes it feel like the game sets her up as another nasty pacifist character you have to support. thrown everywhere. As it turns out, though, her involvement in the game doesn’t just give it a compelling emotional core. It also makes the battle feel new and unique.

Lute protects his sister with a giant blue shield.

Christian Sister』
Picture: Reply Game Studios

When I think of a hack-and-slash game, what usually comes to mind is imagining the power of quickly taking down your enemies, often with the help of your strongmen, Devil Trigger-Move type set. In Soulsticehowever, Briar’s Berserker state acts like a candle burning at both ends. While its flame burns brightly, it does not last long. Like any person who plays a hack-and-slash game and unleashes their character’s full destructive potential for the first time, Briar marvels at the power of her demonic state and regards it as a means to mamoru she looks like a ghost imouto. Lute, on the other hand, punishes Briar, warning her not to rely on her Berserker status as it will lead to her destruction. The silences in those moments of downtime where you’re breaking the box to regain your health after a tough battle are often parted with the dialogue between two sisters in which they try to soften their expectations. about their journey ahead.

Whenever Lute tries to distract both herself and Briar from the carnage of the kingdom’s townsfolk, some of it is done by their own hands, with idyllic daydreams of how things are going. Once taking place during their more peaceful childhood, Briar bluntly brings Lute back to earth by reminding her that she’ll have to get used to the carnage to survive. Conversely, whenever Briar dismisses the abuse of her newfound dark powers (and the cost to her) as a means of achieving a necessary end, Lute drops the lightness. and sternly reminded her sister that, although she was a ghost and Briar was cursed, the pair still had a lot of life to live. The weight of these small interactions is enriched by emotional vocal performances from Stefanie Joosten (Quiet from Metal Gear Solid: The Phantom Pain) who painted portraits of both sisters. This constant back and forth between the sisters, coupled with Briar learning to rely on her sister who was once her protector instead of shouldering the burden on her own, makes for some powerful storytelling.

Even outside SoulsticeIn the story, Lute quickly becomes one of the most essential supporting characters in the hack-and-slash genre. In combat, Lute mechanically works the same way Stand will stay JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure. If an enemy is about to attack Briar, pressing the “Lute Button” will counterattack, blocking or stopping time for them to die in their path, allowing Briar to close in on the targeted enemy or finish the bronze. their wisdom. or end up killing their allies. However, pressing the “Lute button” will distract her, leading her to look for enemies that don’t have counterattacks, leaving you vulnerable.

Lute is also essential in many of the game’s foundational segments. Throughout the game, there are red crystals blocking your way and ghost-like blue platforms. By raising your left or right hand, Lute allows you to deal damage to red progress blocking crystals and add mass to the Soulsticeof blue background. However, doing this for too long will exhaust Lute to the point where she will disappear. Don’t worry, she’ll be back in a while.

Briar jumped towards the floating head of a demon.

Dude literally said “show me what you got” before this fight.
Picture: Reply Game Studios

The biggest limitation of Soulstice, as with many character action games, the camera often acts as an enemy within itself. This, along with the fact that most of its enemies use projectiles, makes for an unpleasant experience at times. For example, at one point I asked out loud, “Why are you putting a fight here?” while I was facing a wave of enemies in two courtyards connected by a narrow alley. If I go in and out of the aforementioned alley to end a combo, the camera will switch to showing the yard I’m entering, thus obscuring my view of the enemies in the alley I’m in. fight. Not only did this disorient me, but it also left me with a lack of prompts to counter oncoming projectiles as the camera could no longer see them. This, coupled with the fact that there are so many enemies with projectiles, you have to counterattack, dodge, or freeze time to avoid making the action feel too messy at times.

smart environment, SoulsticeIts color palette rarely goes beyond having a dark blue and gray watercolor style backdrop, save it for its challenge mode where it arranges things with some vivid blue and purple landscapes. . As a result, the early game enemy types mostly blend into the background, making them difficult to discern until the game starts befriending enemies that are more noticeable with glowing red and blue crystals on them. their body.

At its heart, Soulstice exists both as evidence for the thesis that everything is a remix, and to refute Mark Twain’s claim that comparison is the death of pleasure. I have to admit that at first I found it playing Soulstice as a means to practice before release Bayonetta 3but I was surprised to see that Soulstice shines best not when it reminds you of battle in character action games like Bayonetta or Devil May Crybut how it takes time for its story to take precedence over the action, which makes it all the more remarkable from anyone who loves tech-based hack-and-slash adventures. power.


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