- Soulstice is an Action RPG that focuses on high-stakes and fast-paced combat with an endearing storyline featuring two sisters, Briar and Lute.
- The game has a few story beats to keep players immersed in the emotions of both protagonists but ultimately they end up becoming the stars of the journey as the plot itself is pretty dull and unappealing to an extent.
- The combat is exhilarating and packed with elements similar to other beloved Action titles such as Bayonetta and Devil May Cry. Soulstice easily holds a candle to both of these renowned games and even surpasses them to become its own special experience
There is an ever-growing lineup of amazing hack-and-slash titles that seem to amaze players at every turn with their style and action-packed gameplay. To better explain this genre, look at games like Bayonetta and Devil May Cry, which are chock-full of some of the most satisfying combat systems in the industry. Both of these fantastic franchises have since paved the way for many others in their genre and inspired even small-time indie developers such as Reply Game Studios to do the same with their newest title, Soulstice, which we are going to review today.
Soulstice is a AA budget Action RPG that focuses on fast-paced gameplay with different elements such as a scoring and style system as well as weapon combos to spice up its combat at every end. Hardcore DMC fans will appreciate what the game does in order to establish a solid gameplay loop.
Not to mention the storytelling is there to keep you glued to the screen, but the meat of the piece is still definitely the combat. It was one of my most anticipated games to be released this year as I first saw its trailer back in E3 2021 and immediately made sure to add it to my wishlist. And it is safe to say that it all paid off, as you will now begin to see in this Soulstice review that we have prepared for you.
- Developer: Reply Game Studios
- Publisher: Modulus Games
- Release Date: September 20, 2022
- Platforms: PlayStation, Xbox, and PC
- Predecessor: None
Story And Setting
You play as the two sisters, Briar and Lute, both of whom are born as members of the Chimera species and have access to extraordinary powers and abilities. A Chimera warrior is created from the unification of their two souls, which is then destined to protect mankind from any kind of impending evil or threat. Briar, our main controllable character, has awakened to her superhuman strength to withstand even the toughest of odds, while her sister, Lute, has transformed into a spiritual being that has access to transcendent powers.
The game takes place in the fantasy setting of the Kingdom of Keidas, which has long since been overruled and enslaved by the cataclysmic beings of darkness known as the “Wraiths.” These supernatural creatures have destroyed the last traces of humanity and all living beings, and now it is up to the two siblings to confront them and save the Kingdom from falling into further despair and ruin.
Along the way, both of the siblings will also come across many other wanderers and travelers scouring the lost Kingdom for clues and secrets. These NPCs will provide you with essential lore and background information on what’s happening in the game so far, as well as the logic behind the events taking place in it.
The storytelling of the game is definitely a mixed bag of tricks as it wants to humanize the two siblings as much as possible. And this is all carefully balanced as both Briar and Lute will often engage in conversations throughout your time in the game, which will add a layer of depth to their relationship and dynamic with each other.
It can get pretty annoying to deal with towards the end of the game, but for the most part, their back-and-forth banter can offer some much-needed insight into their personalities and traits. It isn’t so well done that you’ll find yourself cheering on both of the siblings, but at least their characters are expertly showcased through thier voice-acting performances, especially since Briar’s Voice actor is none other than Stefanie Joosten, who played Quiet in the legendary Metal Gear Solid 5.
Overall, I didn’t find myself getting too attached to either of these characters, but they had enough charisma and emotional weight to them that it made the experience worthwhile. Defeating each central boss and overcoming the heartful climax is undoubtedly something that will ease the ride of the game’s simplistic yet dull storyline.
Soulstice takes a page out of popular action titles such as Devil May Cry, where strategic platforming and swift but deadly combat are the key components to immersing the player in its gameplay. Players will primarily be controlling Briar in combat with her trusty Greatsword and selection of other weapons to deal melee damage to enemies. At the same time, you will also be using Lute as a sidekick who will aid her sister with essential backup support abilities such as parrying, blocking, and switching between her field abilities which we will discuss soon.
Briar is a powerhouse that wields up to 4 different secondary weapons in addition to her main Greatsword. You can swap between all of her weapons in quick succession as you tear and smash through enemies at high speed. Occasionally mixing up her combos with different types of weapons, such as the heavy axe, can indefinitely help you achieve a high rank and keep the flow fresh and intuitive. Style isn’t everything, for that matter, as you will still need to be careful of incoming enemy attacks, which can regularly brutalize you.
Thankfully, this is where Lute shines as the secondary character. She will help you throughout the combat encounters where you will need to precisely time her button prompts in order to parry or block various kinds of attacks. This aspect may sound similar to other games where you will have a prominently featured secondary character to help you in dire circumstances. The best example of this is Kratos’ son Atreus, from God Of War 2018, or even Navi the fairy from the cult-classic Legend of Zelda Ocarina of Time.
You will need to mix and match both of the siblings’ attacks in order to survive in combat, as you simply can’t get away by brute forcing everything via Briar’s strength. Chaining multiple combos and carefully navigating through hordes of enemies with Lute at your back to keep them at bay is the key to mastering the combat scenario of Soulstice. Fortunately, you can easily pick it up whether or not you’re familiar with action games or just want to experience the thrill of slashing through foes at high velocity.
The game features intricate level design and platforming that might seem familiar to Devil May Cry 1 and 3 players, where you can navigate through fixed camera angles of platforming sections which may or may not require you to solve puzzles. It may ruin the fun factor a bit here since all of these platforming sections can become repetitive as they overstay their welcome towards the late-game chapters. It ends up becoming a chore to have to switch between Lute’s fields to reveal hidden platforms and jump with the annoying camera angles.
Speaking of which, Lute has access to two different fields, which are distinguished by the blue aura of the Evocation Field and the Banishment Field. By default, these are bound to the trigger buttons if you use a controller, and you will be using them for a few main reasons. One of these is to gather the two main currencies that you will need in order to upgrade both of the characters and their abilities. Other times, you will need to regularly swap between these fields to take down the shields of enemies and make them vulnerable to Briar’s attacks. Lastly, you will use it to light up hidden platforms in puzzle sections.
The two currencies will mainly be obtained by defeating enemies and breaking their crystal formations hidden throughout the levels. You will need them to acquire new combos and skillsets for Briar and her weapons which will undoubtedly benefit you the most. But keep in mind that there are also the nova blue crystals for Lute’s skill tree, which are a little bit rarer to find than the red ones as they are hidden away in levels, and you will need to activate the fields to be able to destroy and obtain them.
The skill trees for both of the sisters are heavily varied, but more so in the case of Lute. Her skill system is fleshed out over her older sibling, ranging from Offensive, Defensive, and even Support skills, which are mostly passive upgrades, to existing abilities in her arsenal. Most importantly, the game encourages you to mix and match her skills to befit your playstyle accordingly, so if you are much more aggressive in your approach towards the endgame battles, then, by all means, you can reset some upgrades and invest them in the offensive tree.
Overall during my time playing the game for my Soulstice review, there wasn’t anything too bothersome that hindered my enjoyment since the combat is brilliantly laid out with tons of variations to make it feel like a robust Action RPG. The only major annoyance was the camera which most players will find a bit annoying. During the interior Castle sections, I often found myself stumbling during the combat and overwhelming encounters which had me either stuck or clipping against the wall. It was all due to the closed and fixated camera angles, but at least it didn’t impact the fun too much.
Plus, unleashing the powerful Unity attacks by filling up the meter on the upper right of your screen during combat will reward players for performing new combos with both of the sisters. It will be the most vital element that you will need to remember to keep your eyes on to deal staggering damage to the hardest bosses.
Visuals And Performance
Soulstice uses a 3D anime-like visual format where the characters are elaborately designed to fit in with a grim and gritty setting which is heavily inspired by the SoulsBorne games. There is a unique cell-shading to the faces of the humanoid characters that I found intriguing, almost to the point where the game looked realistic in some of the heavier cinematics. Interestingly enough, the cutscenes are rendered in a locked 30FPS frame rate which is a means of adding an interesting effect to the visuals.
While the camera became more of an inconvenience later on, there is no denying the fact that I absolutely loved the dynamic feel when it pulled back during certain sections to give me a look at the world and its surroundings. It gracefully showcased its beautiful architecture and scenery as Briar was running across the courtyard and upper ramparts of this linear world.
The art style and graphics certainly impressed me with the budget the game had, to the point where it almost felt like an AAA-funded video game at some points. It ran like a dream too on my RTX 3060Ti and Ryzen 5 3600 system, where the GPU took full advantage of the DLSS setting that enabled it to run smoothly on the highest settings.
I encountered little to no frame dips, and most users will easily be able to run it on their budget systems as well, considering the fact that it is fairly optimized and offers a variety of settings to fine-tune the performance.
As a hardcore fan of action titles like Ninja Gaiden and Bayonetta, Soulstice delivered on most of my expectations in my review of it. The grotesque Dark Souls-like medieval setting with the endearing character storytelling from both Briar and her sister Lute will resonate with a lot of people. Their stories will unravel with many twists and turn to get you hooked to the inevitable climax.
The combat is delightful and open-ended, with each weapon having different capabilities and combos to suit various situations and encounters. It will keep you focused and glued to the action as you will need to use Lute’s assistance to provide support for her sister’s resilience and fortitude in the fights. The only possible intrusions might be the camera angles, which may become tiresome to deal with depending on each player’s mindset.
However, none of this changes the fact that Soulstice is a solid Action RPG game that will easily be accessible for almost every type of player. Traversing the perilous passageways and locations of the Kingdom of Keidas and raking up those shiny medals during fights is a glorious experience. Not to mention the boss fights will give you a run for your money as they are all challenging and fun to take down.
We hope you enjoyed reading our Soulstice review. The game is out now on the PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S, and PC via Steam. While you are at it, be sure to check out some of our other reviews.
- The Last Of Us Part 1 Review
- Spider-Man Remastered PC Review
- Disney Dreamlight Valley Review
- Immortals Fenyx Rising Review
- Horizon Forbidden Werst Review
- Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles The CowaBunga Collection Review
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- Story And Setting
- Visuals And Performance
As a hardcore fan of action titles, Soulstice delivered on most of my expectations.
- Intriguing Main Characters.
- Grim And Melancholic Setting.
- Engaging Combat.
- Captivating Visuals.
- Annoying Camera Angles.
- Repetitive Platforming.