Soulstice’s story makes it more than your average hack-and-slash

Briar wipes her chin like a cool anime protagonist.

picture: Replay Game Studios

In the midst of the gaming fall season, it’s easy to lose track of games that aren’t the new hotness from big-name studios or that haven’t received enough publicity to garner attention. Despite this reality, a gritty action-adventure game managed to not only catch my attention but also exceed my expectations and prove itself to be much more than just another derivative game paying homage to its contemporaries.

Soulstice, by Reply Game Studios, is a hack and slash action game. You play as both Briar, a stoic swordswoman suffering from a demonic curse that threatens to overtake her, and her sister Lute, a ghostly being who can conjure up barriers and cast beams of light to protect her sister from enemies. Your mission is to seal the celestial beam-like rift forming in the middle of a war-torn kingdom and defeat the townsfolk who have turned into monsters under the rift’s influence. Basically, you might have trouble not thinking about it Soulstice how related to the berserk Manga with a pinch Claymore.

And yes, the comparison to these animes is apt. Parallels can perhaps be drawn on paper Soulstice and other stylish action games in which the heroes fight against hordes of enemies from other realms, games like bayonet and Devil May Cry. However, Soulstice differs from these games in that it tells a compelling story that doesn’t overshadow the combat.

Similar to his contemporaries SoulsticeCombat features light and heavy attacks, a variety of weapons to switch between seamlessly, a plethora of Lovecraftian-inspired bosses to rip and tear into, and a temporary overpowered state where you deal even more damage to enemies inflict Where it deviates in both gameplay and the emotional hook to its story is Briar’s sister Lute, who serves as the emotional compass controller Soulstice far from being a mundane copy of older hack-and-slash games.

Lute, dragging her ghostly feet over the carnage she and her sister must trudge through, initially gives off the feeling that the game turns her into just another annoying, pacifistic character that you have to escort everywhere. As it turns out, however, their inclusion in the game doesn’t just give it a compelling emotional core. Also, the combat feels fresh and unique.

Lute protects her sister with a giant blue shield.

私のスタンド 『Sister Christian』
picture: Replay Game Studios

Often when I think of a hack and slash game, the force fantasy of taking down your enemies quickly, often with the help of your overpowered, devil summoner-Type motion set. in the SoulsticeHowever, Briar’s berserk state works like a candle, burning out from both ends. While its flame burns brilliantly, it doesn’t live that long. Much 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 how powerful her demonic state makes her and sees it as a means to do so mamoru she ghostly imouto. Lute, on the other hand, chastises Briar and warns her not to rely on her berserk state as it will lead to her downfall. The silence during this downtime, during which you break crates for health pickups after a harrowing struggle, is routinely broken by a dialogue between the two sisters as they attempt to soften each other’s expectations of the journey ahead mitigate.

Whenever Lute tries to distract herself and Briar from slaughtering the kingdom’s townspeople, some of them by her own hands, with idyllic daydreams about how things used to be in her more peaceful childhood, Briar succinctly brings Lute back down to earth she remembers that she has to get used to the carnage in order to survive. Conversely, whenever Briar waves away the overuse of her newfound dark power (and the toll it takes on her) as a means to a necessary end, Lute drops her soft tongue and sternly reminds her older sister, though she it’s a ghost and briar is cursed, the couple has much more to live for. The weight of these small interactions is emphasized by the sensational vocal performances of Stefanie Joosten (Quiet from Metal Gear Solid: The Phantom Pain) depicting both sisters. This constant back and forth between the sisters, coupled with Briar learning to rely on her once defenseless sister rather than shouldering the burden alone, makes for strong storytelling.

Also outside Soulstice‘s story, Lute is quickly becoming one of the most important supporting characters in the hack and slash genre. During combat, Lute works mechanically similar to a was standing would clean JoJo’s bizarre adventure. When an enemy is about to attack Briar, pressing the “sound button” will counter them, parry them, or stop them over time, allowing Briar to bash a targeted enemy or finish off his allies. or stop destroying their allies. However, hitting the “Lute button” will willy-nilly distract her, causing her to seek out enemies who aren’t open to a counter, thus opening you up to attacks.

Lute is also essential during the game’s many platforming segments. Throughout the game there are red crystals blocking your path and blue ghostly platforms. By raising either her left or right hand, you can use Lute to damage and add mass to the red crystals that are blocking progress Soulstice‘s blue platforms. However, if you do this for too long, Lute will become so exhausted that she will disappear. Don’t worry, she’ll be back after a while.

Briar leaps towards a demon's floating head.

The guy literally says “show me what you’ve got” before this fight.
picture: Replay Game Studios

The biggest disadvantage of Soulstice, as with many character action games, is that the camera often seems like an enemy within itself. This, along with most of his enemies using projectiles, makes for an occasionally frustrating experience. For example, I once asked aloud, “Why would you start a fight here?” while facing a wave of enemies in two courtyards connected by a narrow alley. When I entered and exited this alley to complete a combo string, the camera would move to show the yard I was entering, thus obscuring my view of the enemies in the alley I was fighting. Not only did this confuse me, but it also caused me to miss prompts to counter oncoming projectiles since the camera was no longer in view of them. This, coupled with the fact that too many enemies have projectiles that you have to counter, dodge, or freeze time to avoid, makes the action feel overly cluttered at times.

environmental, SoulsticeRarely does the color palette go beyond a watercolor-style dark blue and gray background, save for its challenge mode, where it spices things up with some vibrant blue and purple landscapes. Because of this, early-game enemy types practically blend into the background, making them hard to spot until the game starts pitting you against more flashy enemies with glowing red and blue crystals embedded in their bodies.

in his heart Soulstice exists both as evidence for the thesis that everything a remix, and as a refutation of Mark Twain’s statement that comparison is the death of joy. Admittedly, I initially saw the game play Soulstice as a means of getting some practice before releasing something bayonet 3but I was surprised to find this Soulstice It doesn’t shine at its best when reminiscent of combat in character action games bayonet or Devil May Crybut in how it takes the time to prioritize its story over its plot, which more than deserves attention from any person with a penchant for skill-based hack-and-slash adventure. Soulstice’s story makes it more than your average hack-and-slash

Curtis Crabtree

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