Soulstice, the preview

Soulstice, the preview


Berserk meets Claymore. The first impression when looking at the Soulstice announcement trailer is this and it is probably one of the best compliments you can give him. The interesting action RPG developed by the Italian team Reply Game Studios left us absolutely positive sensations right from the start, also fitting into that sudden void created by the change of register of Babylon's Fall - surpassing the latter even in terms of aesthetics, because the cel shading is a style that never fades and always makes a good impression.

We saw an extended version of the trailer presented at E3, so we can get a little clearer idea: find out in the Soulstice preview.

The story of Briar and Lute

Soulstice stars the sisters Briar and Lute, against the backdrop of a kingdom close to ruin: the balance of Keidas starting to yield when ferocious creatures known as Wraiths traverse the so-called Veil to consume the living. Not only can they corrupt their victims but also take possession of their bodies to turn them into unstoppable monsters that hunt down the other inhabitants. The Chimeras, hybrid warriors born from the union of two souls, are the only ones able to protect the human race. Briar and Lute are two of them: the transformation has granted the first superhuman strength and resistance while the second, sacrificed to bind her soul to that of her sister, has become a ghost with mystical powers. Voiced by Stefanie Joosten (Quiet in Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain), Briar and Lute are sent on a mission to recapture a ruined city ravaged by the fury of the Wraith, only to discover that the Order they belong to has a much more complex plan. in mind.

We wrote it at the beginning of the article and we repeat it, in some ways Soulstice reminds us of Claymore: the dark fantasy manga by Norihiro Yagi seems to us to have been an excellent basis of inspiration for the game, especially for the the concept of Chimeras as the only opposition to the threat posed by the Wraith - just as the Claymore are to the Yoma. The fact that the latter can possess their victims, making them their own container to hunt other living beings, is in turn a similarity with the Yoma (who could take human features to mingle with them). Even the appearance of Briar, the fact that he wields a broadsword - but not only, apparently there is a variety of weapons - and in general his aesthetic reminded us a little of Claire and a good part of Gatsu too: l missing eye, the left arm in armor, elements that refer to the mercenary of the late Kentaro Miura without making Briar a female copy of him. The tributes are there, and we appreciate them because they recall two works of a certain level, but we have no doubt that this story has a lot to tell about itself.

It is not yet another soulslike

Soulstice, Briar struggling with one of the Wraith As far as the name may suggest it, especially since anything that contains "souls" in the name inevitably refers to the works of Miyazaki, Soulstice is not yet another soulslike destined to saturate a market that is now full ; it must be said that in the sea of ​​games inspired by Dark Souls, it has become common practice to bring together under a single definition even projects that have nothing in any way with that genre and at most limit themselves to taking one or two mechanics. The same Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice is not to be considered soulslike, yet it is easy to generalize and list it only because there is the mechanics of the bonfire (idol, in this specific case). Soulstice, you can also see it very well from the announcement trailer, is a frenetic action, a hack 'n' slash along the lines of Devil May Cry, NieR: Automata and Bayonetta: a title therefore well rooted within anything else genre and who knows what he wants.

What impressed us in a particular way, in the trailer shown, were two things: the speed with which Briar seems to be able to switch between weapons in the middle of the action, which leaves ample room for personalization of the style and above all for experimentation also on the basis of the arsenal that will be provided to us; secondly, the presence of her sister Lute, who acts autonomously but, according to the statements of Fabio Pagetti and Samuele Perseo, adapts to our way of playing allowing us contextual actions that will gradually emphasize the gameplay making it more and more exaggerated and spectacular - as happens in this kind of games.

Studying "the past", in the form of DMC (Ninja Theory), Devil May Cry, Bayonetta, Nier: Automata and in general the work of Platinum Games has allowed the developers to grasp the ideas necessary to realize the your idea and focus on the mechanics of the "dual character".

Soulstice, synergy is a fundamental mechanic in the game Briar and Lute are two characters that constantly act in synergy and it is on this very bases their versatility on the battlefield. Their bond is the fulcrum not only of the narrative but also of the combat system itself: a practical example that has been given to us concerns the so-called "unity", designed just to represent the relationship between Briar and Lute. The more this is strengthened the more Lute, as an autonomous artificial intelligence, she will become able to perform a greater number of actions such as blocking an enemy in one direction, doing the same thing in another and at the same time slowing down a third. We are curious to find out how far the synergy can go and how, possibly, it will vary depending on the weapon used.

In this regard, aspects such as the progression and the presence of more weapons in addition to that characteristic of Briar have been confirmed but the developers have not been able to go further: to intrigue us a lot is a possible customization system of Lute and, if so, how the management of the two sisters is organized in terms of growth - if we are talking about experience points or a more Sekiro approach. Exploration and solving of puzzles will also be present, going to occupy that percentage not focused on clashes, and will exploit the same dynamics of combat; how exactly we have not been told but it seems that the synergy, as we have already specified, is the core of the game in every aspect.

This growing spectacularity is conveyed through an atmosphere and a style artistic that is in the middle of the conventional Japanese and European aesthetics: from Dark Souls, Soulstice takes the dark and dirty atmospheres typical of a dark fantasy, inspired in turn by the European Middle Ages, while from the Japanese counterpart it does not focus on the classic "manga eyes sparkling "or on cel shading as much as on the staging of realistic characters who, however, at the same time, do not show Western characteristics. Again, fans of Berserk and Claymore, here you will find exactly what you are looking for, even under the narrative aspect: the events you will encounter will be those to which these two works in particular have accustomed you.

Finally, the decision to develop it only for PC and next-gen is very curious, a choice that certainly has marketing reasons behind it but also rather practical: Soulstice is a game designed to present many elements on the screen all at the same time , even overlapping, and everything must maintain a precise and stable number of FPS. Working on the next-gen, therefore, taking up the words of the developers, was both a necessity and the right step to test oneself as a studio.

Soulstice is a project with a precise goal, a clear identity and all the intentions to create its own space in the videogame panorama: what we have seen inspires and intrigues, because it draws from two very popular imaginaries such as Berserk and Claymore without being a copy of them. The idea of ​​exploiting two characters and around them, to the synergy they establish, to build almost the entire game between the combat system, exploration, puzzle solving and narrative, struck us right away and the adrenaline rhythm seen in the trailer seems to be just a little taste of what's to come. After the success of Joe Dever's Lone Wolf, the Italian Reply Game Studios team is ready to get involved on a more ambitious project that already demonstrates how fierce it is.


System of frenetic combat and open to experimentation Lute as a supporting character seems to promise very well Aesthetics that lies in the middle between Western and Japanese culture DOUBTS The excellent conditions must be tested with a road test Have you noticed any errors?

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