Genre Action, adventure Publisher
Publisher in Russia None Developer
Reply Game Studios
Minimum requirements Intel Core i7-4770K 3.5 GHz / AMD Ryzen 5 1600 3.2 GHz, 8 GB RAM, DirectX 12 capable graphics card, 6 GB memory such as NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 / AMD Radeon RX 5500 XT 30 GB hard drive, Steam account Recommended requirements Intel Core i7-4770K 3.5 GHz / AMD Ryzen 5 2600 3.4 GHz, 12 GB RAM, DirectX 12-capable graphics card and 6 GB memory, such as NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 / AMD Radeon RX 5600 XT Release date September 20, 2022 Age limit 17+ Localization Text Platforms PC, Xbox Series X|S, PlayStation 5
Played on PC
If you think about it, the classic slashers went into oblivion along with the seventh generation of consoles. In fact, on the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, only Devil May Cry 5 can be noted from the representatives of the genre. Well, the beauty Bayonetta looked at Wii U. Others either died, or, like Kratos, radically changed their image. Or that Devil’s Huntbut let’s not talk about sad things.
As you know, history goes in circles, and much that is new is a well-forgotten old. Soulstice from the Italian Reply Game Studios is reminiscent of the golden classics of the PlayStation 2 era. Which, against the backdrop of a host of Dark Souls followers, now looks very fresh.
The city of Ilden, once beautiful, is now destroyed and overrun by monsters. In his heart – the temple of the Triarchy – a Gap has formed, tearing the Veil that separates the worlds of the living and the spirits. The latter penetrate the physical dimension and capture people, turning them into nightmarish creatures. Only the Order of the Ash Knights can fight such creatures of darkness. Their main warriors are chimeras. Each of them is a duet of a living warrior and the spirit of the deceased chained to him.
The role of such a couple goes to us. Sisters Briard and Lut sail on a dilapidated boat to the port area of Ilden. A breathtaking spectacle of a huge city opens up to the eyes, stretching from the river bank to the mountain peak. From the very first frames, Soulstice surprises with its seamless visual style. We are immediately pointed to the ultimate goal – a pillar of light escaping from the temple, piercing the heavens. This technique perfectly emphasizes progress as you progress: making your way through the back streets of Ilden, you clearly see how you are getting closer to the Breach.
Thrilling storytelling has never been a hallmark of slashers – that’s true of Soulstice as well. But even a simple story can be told in such a way that it will be interesting to follow. And here the Italians succeeded. A simple mission to clear the city of monsters turns into a tangle of secrets from the sisters’ past and a conspiracy at the top of the Order. Although the characters do not differ in depth, they have textured characters and skeletons in the closets.
Their findings here are skillfully mixed with references to famous fantasy works. In terms of the story, the inspiration was clearly drawn from anime like “Berserk” and “Claymore”. The style is more reminiscent of European fantasy, and a slight cel-shading effect makes the picture comical, but the spirit of oriental animation clearly comes through in the presentation, angles and directing.
The gameplay also refers to very specific works. First of all, of course, to the first Devil May Cry (well, or to Dante’s Inferno, if you remember something fresher). Briard famously swings a huge sword named “Ash Protector”, can pierce forward, and skillfully juggle enemies in the air. True, there are fewer combinations of blows than Dante or Kratos. Combining different weapons in one chain is responsible for the variety of battles in Soulstice.
In addition to the sword, the chimera has a hammer in its arsenal, and over time, a whip, a bow, stilettos, and even clubs with built-in cannons open up. You can switch between them on the fly, for which the cross is responsible for the gamepad. On the one hand, the idea is good – no need to climb through any equipment menu. On the other hand, in the heat of battle, it is sometimes easy to forget that to select daggers, you need to press “left” twice. But if you still get used to it, then you can do very impressive pirouettes: pull yourself up to the enemy with a whip, send it into the air with a hammer and immediately soar towards him, bring down a hail of blows with stilettos and, returning to the hammer, imprint the enemy into the ground.
At first, Soulstice seems like a fairly simple game, even on the highest difficulty level (of those available on the first playthrough). As in the first God of War, you can simply relentlessly press the hit button, and Briar will beautifully scatter the possessed. And it is advisable to remember that a specific weapon is useful in certain situations: a hammer knocks down armor well, a bow perfectly “lands” flying creatures, and so on.
To avoid damage, you can dodge or resort to the help of Lut. If you press the right key in time, Lut will repel a melee attack, freeze a particularly powerful blow for a couple of seconds, or knock down an enemy move. The system is slightly reminiscent of Batman: Arkham, but it is both more diverse and more limited.
Spirit protection cannot be used continuously. If several opponents attack you at the same time, then, most likely, it will not work to reflect all attacks. They pressed the button at the wrong time – for a couple of seconds, in principle, they lost the opportunity to intercept blows. But as Lute is pumped, the reflection of attacks will not only save from damage, but also give additional bonuses: freeze several enemies at once, leave exploding traps in the arena, increase Briar’s speed, and so on.
By landing successful series of strikes and not taking damage, the sisters accumulate unity – upon reaching a certain level, the final blow in the combination turns into a particularly powerful move. At the same time, you can complete the chain of attacks with any weapon, on which the finishing move will depend. For example, a sword causes a blast wave in an arc, and a whip cuts everything in a straight line. The main thing is to get used to changing the gun on the fly.
The further, the more nuances have to be taken into account. On the arenas there are new types of opponents that require a certain approach and weapons. Different combinations of monsters make you think in what sequence it is better to destroy them. Luth is trained to use the fields of incarnation and banishment. To put it simply, create a blue or red sphere around Briar, which allows you to destroy the possessed of a certain color. For example, incorporeal spirits can only be hit inside a blue field, and scarlet crystals can only be hit in a red one.
In the second half of the passage, the feeling begins to emerge that the developers overdid it in an attempt to diversify ten to fifteen hours of battles. At some point, traps appear on the arenas that detonate or, conversely, freeze inside a certain field. As a result, you have to keep track of the types of enemies, react to their attacks with Lut’s defense, juggle weapons and turn on the necessary fields in order to attack specific opponents, but also think about how not to hit a mine with a sphere.
Problems that are easy to ignore at first, in such situations appear more and more acutely. Of course, the main scourge of all slashers is a naughty camera stuck in the walls. It becomes sad when you are forced to fight a huge mutant in a cramped room, and in an attempt to get away from the attack you find yourself in a corner where the operator suddenly freaks out and loses sight of both the adversary and the protagonist. At the same time, he always takes a fairly close-up, which is why unexpected blows fly in the back every now and then. And it would be okay just arrows and spears, barely scratching the chimera – a kamikaze monster can suddenly run out at you and deprive half of your health.
Choosing a goal is designed to make life easier, but sometimes it works exactly the opposite. Particularly strong obsessed people first need to be knocked down, after which spirits come out of the carcasses, which must be finished off (not forgetting the blue field, of course). And now it’s quite difficult to choose them from a dozen targets rushing around the arena, while the virtual operator is beating in an epileptic fit. Until you achieve what you want, the spirit will have time to revive the flesh, and you will have to beat up the fat villain for a couple more minutes. And this is not only an extra risk, but also a deterioration in the result in battle.
After each battle, the game rewards you with a rank, from iron to diamond. The higher the total rank per chapter, the more leveling points are given out. It turns out that if you played badly, you will get fewer resources to improve Briar and Lut, which will put you in slightly worse conditions in the next chapter, and it will be more difficult for you to show a better result.
It’s good that most of the crystals required to acquire new skills, you still find in the process of exploring the environment. It is vital to get into every corner of the map – resources are hidden in all the nooks and crannies of Ilden. And it’s nice to take a break from the battles for an uncomplicated platformer or a separate combat test.
The main ailment of Soulstice is precisely the protractedness that emphasizes other flaws. About fifteen hours for a classic slasher is too much, especially when there are not so many mechanics, and you have to combine them in the most insane way, which sometimes gives rise to overcomplicated and tritely unfair situations. After all, it was easy to shorten the game by a third without sacrificing anything: sometimes the gap without a new weapon is too long, sometimes the landscape has time to become very boring, in some places a whole hour passes without any plot events. Another reminder that it is important to put an end to it in time.
* * *
But, despite my grumblings about individual elements, balance and length, Soulstice is a solid game, a reminder that the slasher genre is now undeservedly forgotten. From passing it is easy to get great pleasure thanks to spectacular battles, a pleasant picture with a memorable style and a surprisingly intriguing story.
dynamic combat system with many nuances; the city of Ilden as the main setting is well developed both visually and in terms of history; interesting boss fights…
… which are not enough; tightness creates problems with balance; wayward camera.
A nice picture with a mature style, and flaws are masked using cel-shading technology.
A dynamic soundtrack, seemingly imperceptible in itself, but successfully complementing the adrenaline bouts.
Single player game
Classic slasher with a lot of his own ideas. Fixed camera, crowds of enemies and an arsenal of spectacular techniques to destroy them.
Estimated travel time
Seventeen hours were spent on the first passage on the maximum difficulty (from those opened immediately), with the search for all sorts of secrets and the fulfillment of the tasks found.
An unexpected blast from the past. Soulstice is a return to the noughties, but against the backdrop of the dominance of “soulful” projects, the slasher feels very fresh.
Learn more about the grading system
If you notice an error, select it with the mouse and press CTRL+ENTER.