Soulstice Review (PC) – The Italian action between Berserk and Devil May Cry

It is useless to hide it, we at GameTime could not wait to have the review code in our hands to be able to write the review by Soulstice, by Reply Games Studios. After two previews and a public demo, finally, we can put a point on the journey to discover this hack and slash in Italian sauce.

As already extensively described in the previous previews, Soulstice basks inside a dark fantasy aesthetic and visual context which draws its inspiration from immortal works such as Berserk And Claymore.

Narratively, however, the two sisters Briar and Lute break away from what is a bit of the cliché of the dark and tormented protagonist typical of the genre, and turn out to be absolutely positive personalities, while facing the dangers and pitfalls of a world ravaged by corruption.

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Despite them, the two girls find themselves embodying the role of Chimera, a sort of magical super warrior, among the military ranks of the Order of the Ashy Blade. Sent by the latter to discover the causes of the destruction of the sacred city of Ilden, they will gradually come to reveal not only all the dark secrets concerning the fall of the capital of the kingdom of Keidas, but also all the mysteries behind the decision to make them mutate into a hybrid potentially capable of inflicting death and madness.

The plot takes place, mainly, through the dialogues between the two protagonists, but also with the sarcastic mentor Layton (also a quote not completely thrown away at random). Furthermore, Soulstice it is interspersed with rather spectacular cutscenes and moments of virtual reconstruction of previous events that beat the rhythm of events in a pleasant way and with a good degree of competence.

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As previously anticipated, it is the characterization of the two protagonists that stands out on the whole narrative sector, and turns out to be one of the elements of distinction compared to what the hack and slash landscape has offered us up to now, including sacred monsters such as Bayonetta And Devil May Cry. If in these IP the heroes are mostly distinguished by provocative and self-confident attitudes, Briar and Lute are the emblem of the sweetness and genuineness that leads them to support each other and instill courage despite the difficulties.

The absolute importance of this specific aspect is also evident from the fact that Reply wanted to transpose it as an exclusive mechanic of the little Lute, thanks to which it manages to bring its mad sister to reason. In short, Soulstice manages to give a good degree of dignity to his scriptdespite belonging to a genre that generally tends to set aside this specific aspect, even if it does not reach particularly high levels of writing.

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Soulstice it is first of all a stylish action and, as such, the gameplay shows the typical styles of the genre, but it does it in a completely personal way. The particular chimerical nature of the two protagonists is the pivot on which the whole combat system revolvesa playful unicum that consists of two distinct but extremely dependent mechanical pools: Briar embodies the attack and Lute what we can improperly define as defense.

The offensive capacity, in Soulsticeis proposed in a very traditional way, so we will have heavy and light weapons with variable effectiveness based on the type of enemy to be killed, attacks to unlock and combos to be chained as in any other exponent of the genre. The same cannot be said for the attributes of Lute, which is in fact an “independent” AIwhose management is delegated to an extensive branch of skills that includes defense, attack, force fields and the Fury.

Counterattacks, parries, slowing down time and much more are among the dozens of options that we can choose to apply to the Lute control system, and just as easily it is possible to do the respec at no cost, remaining very careful about how to spend our resources since the game is not so generous in the grant it.

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Essentially, Reply has built a large part of the playful dynamics of Soulstice on the character of Luteand it is thanks to her that the game presents a variety of remarkable combat situations: the use of force fields (exile-evocation) determines the possibility of effectively hitting certain types of enemies rather than others and introduces a strategic element to the inside of the clash.

The activation of these forces itself is conditioned by the entropy parameter which limits their use and, if the bar is filled, it will need to be reset in order to function. We guarantee you that it is better to learn how to manage it as soon as possible. But not only that, even the purely platform phases require the activation of these fields to bring up the platforms on which to jump, and in some cases it is also necessary to be rather quick in handling such situations.

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As previously mentioned, these two playful poles are intimately interconnected through the mechanics of Cohesion, which turns out to be the real playful glue of the whole system: the better we fight, the more this parameter will increase, until we get to have a Lute with maximum powers and capable of unleashing powerful synergistic attacksthe; or to be able to activate the state of Fury and indiscriminately attack anyone who comes in front of it.

While in preview it seemed rather easy to reach high levels of tuning, in this case it seemed to us that this element has been recalibrated more equally. In short, the developers have managed to build a solid and convincing core system, which makes it stand out from the crowd in a completely personal and original way.

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Not everything, however, was very successful in SoulsticeAnd the defect that stands out above all is certainly the management of the camera. Already with the previews we had highlighted this problem, well aware that this aspect could hardly be solved: distances are not managed perfectly and in some cases the camera turns out to be an enemy rather than an aid.

The choice of targeting similar to that of Souls does not solve the battlefield display problem. If in the open field the problem turns out to be rather irrelevant, in closed spaces it becomes problematic: in some situations, when the quantity of enemies is high, it is necessary to pass from one force field to another and the need to use weapons arises. distance, it becomes almost necessary to have to compensate for the shortcomings of the cameramoving to the aid of the latter.

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Even in some platform phases the poor ability to represent distances on the screen makes it annoying to overcome them. A very common problem in all games of this genre, but in this case more evident as a result of the team’s lack of experience in managing this type of heated combat situations.

Let me be clear, these are not circumstances that arise perpetually throughout the game, but when it happens, especially towards the end, it becomes rather frustrating and affects the enjoyment of the pyrotechnic clashes present in Soulstice. And we say pyrotechnics not by chance, because at a certain point, between enemy attacks and Lute’s counterattacks, it will seem like watching a fireworks show that only in a moment has created some small drop in framerate.

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Another defect that we include is the homogeneity of some game environmentsthat if on the one hand it is justifiable by the fact that these are located inside the same building, on the other we cannot hide that it has created us a few moments of uncertainty too much about the path to take.

Rather surprising is the duration of the campaignwhich towards the end also appeared to us too “tight”, literally climbing between real battle rush and a succession of final boss fights to leave us breathless (and we advise you to stay on the title until the end of the final credits … who has ears to hear, understand).

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In conclusion, we are quite satisfied with the hours spent together with Briar and Lute. We liked the combat system which turns out to be the showpiece of Soulstice and which has a value of originality and reworking within the genre of all respect. Just as we appreciated the attempt to give dignity to the narration, presenting alternative protagonists to the custom.

Nonetheless, we cannot pretend that the questionable and imprecise handling of the camera is not important: in the actions the control of the battlefield becomes essential and, from this point of view, the title partially fails its playful mission. For this reason, although we strongly recommend it to the public, we cannot promote it with flying colors.