Soulstice, we have finally tried the expected action made in Italy

Soulstice, we have finally tried the expected action made in Italy


The limitations of the culture of videogame development in Italy are unfortunately well known, partly due to the lack of institutional support, partly due to the preparatory difficulties of the entire educational system. When any team manages to stand out, as a rule, they are basically expected to do so in those few genres already established among our developers, with a particular emphasis on driving games. Yet every now and then (especially among the independents) some development team able to get out of this limiting stage peeps out, and tries to have its say in fields much less suited to the boot. We saw it happen with Ubisoft Milano a few years ago, but where that team still had a giant behind it, today this phenomenon can be observed even among teams with significantly fewer resources to rely on.

Reply Game Studios, Milanese team known to most for the valid Lone Wolf, is part of this new wave of reality, yet it has not launched itself on mass genres or easy to approach: its programmers have for some reason wanted to dive into the complex world of technical action at Japanese, inspired by titles like Devil May Cry and Bayonetta. Their child therefore certainly does not deal with small video games.

We tried Soulstice thanks to a substantial demo offered by the team, and we are fortunately much more optimistic after the test than we were during the official presentation. Of course, the imperfections are not lacking, however this action could have enough unique characteristics to represent a good show of strength for the software house in Milan.

In the Heart of Evil

Soulstice: Briar is a force of nature, and his transformation into a chimera has boosted his strength and speed to superhuman levels May Soulstice be inspired by some of the best Japanese manga in circulation of the dark fantasy genre is nothing short of obvious, the aesthetic is clearly that of Claymore with a splash of Berserk and a handful of other influences in the mix. Obviously, the artistic peaks of an eternal master like Miura are not reached, for heaven's sake, but the decision to give everything a markedly dark and disturbing look gives a certain additional charm to the game world and its characters (while breaking down the variety of the color palette).

The narrative, for its part, starts from rather simple bases and seems to want to focus more on the background and on the universe created by Reply Game Studios than on an elaborate premise. You, in practice, take on the role of Briar, a hybrid warrior transformed into a "chimera" thanks to the fusion of her with her sister Lute. The chimeras fight for a mysterious order affiliated with the sacred kingdom of Keidas, and when an invasion of creatures known as the Wraith devastates the capital, the two sisters are dispatched to investigate.

The game didn't seem particularly focused. on the narrative - which is understandable given its genre - but there is a good amount of exposure during the cutscenes and the two protagonists (voiced by Stefanie Joosten) seem to have a decent characterization. Rare that in an action of this type you can count on a high-level plot, but the premises for something more committed than the average could for once be there. Ah, of course, the two sisters are not controllable as a couple: Lute has become a ghost during the transformation into a Chimera and is inextricably linked to Briar in her spiritual form. Around this curious situation, as well as Briar's tendency to transform into a sort of monstrous creature, not only a good part of the story revolves, but also the gameplay.

Soulstice is indeed a complex action with multiple weapons , a large number of maneuvers, excellent feeling pad in the hand and remarkable overall speed, but it is not the case to expect a title with mechanics comparable to a fighting game in three dimensions as seen in other cases. Reply Game Studios have decided to use a slightly more accessible and unique approach to battles.

Blades, wards and a ghostly sister

Soulstice: Basic enemies are somewhat weak, but they are also always in a group The basic system is actually quite classic: Briar has two types of attacks available, a dodge and a jump, and can perform various types of combinations and moves by mixing the offensive buttons with the analog sticks. The two attacks, however, are not the usual light and heavy, where in fact the first represents the basic blows with the sword, the second is based on a weapon wheel where the protagonist can change the tool used at any time.

Now, in this way it could very closely resemble the weapon / style switch of Devil May Cry, however in Soulstice before replacing the weapon each shot must complete its animation, so there does not seem to be the possibility of a immediate change from one blade to another.

Soulstice: Lute and Briar are practically a single entity, while maintaining a separate characterization Complex combinations with multiple weapons are still executable, mind you: the system is simply more rhythmic and staid than the furious changes of style and weapon of Capcom securities. Jumping and dodging, in turn, can't interrupt ground animations, yet that doesn't mean they lack advanced mechanics altogether: once an enemy is thrown into the air, hit animations are interrupted by both jumping and aerial dodging. , for in-flight combos that are markedly more elaborate than they appear from the opening bars, so there are layers of complexity hidden in the mix.

In addition, there is a clear progression that allows you to unlock additional moves for each weapon; our demo provided only two in addition to the initial broadsword - a transformation into a sort of large ax and a whip useful for eliminating groups of enemies - but we suspect that, once you have all the blades and upgraded each skill properly, the there is no lack of offensive variety.

What we have seen above has convinced us even though it is not particularly revolutionary, given that the response of the blows and the movement to the direct test have always seemed solid to us; curiously though, our expectations of Lute and his powers were almost immediately reversed. Briar's ghost sister, in fact, is not an alternative to bullets with abilities that can be activated normally as we expected, but an artificial intelligence that attacks enemies with frequency of its own free will and is actively used by the player only to use certain fields of summoning. or for counter moves and very important defensive barriers to remain intact during the clashes. The latter are also performed with great ease, since the necessary input appears on the screen as soon as an opponent's attack is activated at a distance and just press it to guarantee a protective shield against that attack (this is a fundamental skill to avoid damage. from enemies out of camera range).

Soulstice: Lute can protect you with energy barriers, but it's also the only way you can hit certain enemies Overall? It's a fairly basic but interesting mechanic, which allows you to focus on the action of the game while only partially requiring the player's attention when it comes to Lute. However, we believe that the true uniqueness lies in the fields described above, because it is around these that the types of some enemies revolve and they also seem related to the main "resource" to keep an eye on in the game.

These energy bubbles evoked by Briar's sister, in fact, make solid objects and ghostly enemies of red or blue color according to the one selected (activated with the back keys): their use is mandatory to solve some stages in platforms, obtaining resources and overcoming certain puzzles, but in combat they are also the only way to hit "Wraith and Possessed", or enemies that in their neutral state are completely invulnerable. Considering that they have a specific three-dimensional area and using them excessively can send Lute into a state of overload by increasing a specific indicator of entropy - doing so makes her dangerously unusable for a few seconds - it is not even possible to abuse it, and the Reply Game's will is clear Studios to add a pinch of tactics to the battles with this mechanic, since in the demo tested there was a boss largely structured on the alternation of the fields.

Not only that, while Briar's progression mostly counts extra moves, Lute's also takes overcharge into account, offering specific effects once the fields "explode", for atypical builds that sacrifice power. defense offered by the little sister in favor of offensive powers that can be used periodically. Put simply, this is clearly not a haphazardly engineered combat system, and its many features give us hope for its evolution during the campaign.

Splintered Blade

Not it's over here, since Briar and Lute also have particularly powerful Sinergy Attacks at their disposal when they fight gracefully for some time, which (although it was not present in the demo) also unlock during the campaign a state called Rapture with attached transformation of the protagonist, capable of enhancing his characteristics and unloading powerful finishing moves at the end of the charge. There is seriously a lot of meat to manage and, if you consider the variety in the moves available in the development branches, in addition to the already described excellent general feeling, the impressions are really positive.

This however must not suggesting a perfect combat system: some design ingenuities are clearly present and made us turn up our noses. Leaving aside for example the camera problems, which are almost a constant in the genre and here are only partially dampened by the defensive mechanics of Lute described above, the game suffers from some accuracy problems related to targeting, given that instead of an active targeting with trigger similar to that of Devil May Cry, uses fixed Dark Souls targeting with a tendency to lose sight of closest enemies after elimination. If on the one hand we understand the desire to use an alternative system, given the need to already use two triggers for the fields, it is however undeniable that a more controllable targeting greatly favors the use of directional maneuvers, so much so that we had more than one problem to effectively use the thrust of the basic sword in normal battles (the game tends not to read the double movements with great precision and they are necessary to perform the maneuver).

Even the general layout of the attacks and movement did not seem to us the most intuitive, but if nothing else, that can be changed as desired from the menu. We also hope that the game does not exceed with the puzzles and the platform phases: during the first few bars we found them rather valid and fast, yet exaggerating with the complexity could lead to broken series of rhythms that an action of this type does not need. On the other hand, it is pleasant that at the end of each battle the score a la stylish action was maintained, complete with hidden battles during the various levels.

Soulstice: the rift in the distance is your goal. The closer you get, the worse the situation becomes Well the technical sector, not superlative, but still worthy and with a decent style. We also found the game rather light and extremely fluid and in a preview code it is a symptom of an excellent optimization job. The main doubt in this field concerns art direction: the city locations seemed very similar to each other and we would not want a non-existent variety between the initial and final areas. Too early to bandage your head anyway, as we've only seen a small fraction of the final product.

Boasting a very solid combat system and with mostly negligible ingenuity, Soulstice managed to convince us of its goodness . Despite the obvious sources of inspiration, Reply Game Studios have tried to give their own imprint to the genre, and may have created a must-see action gem for fans. Of course, there is still a lot to analyze and it remains to be seen whether the quality will remain the same for the whole campaign ... We, however, are much more optimistic after the tried.


Combat system fast, solid, and rather spectacular Systems rather interested and worthily applied to the action Has style to spare DOUBT How repetitive will the environments be? Validity and variety of the campaign yet to be ascertained Have you noticed any errors?

Powered by Blogger.