Soulstice Review – Niche Player

Soulstice Review – Niche Player

Soul acquisition

Chimera’s fate is not one that falls on the side of chance. In fact in Soulstice’s world, the Chimera are two purposely bound together souls to sustain existence, one must give his life to be fused with the other so they can remain together.

This sounds like nonsense now, but as the story of the dangers of the Fire (pronounced ill-den) unfolds, Soul acquisition takes you on an adventure through the holy kingdom of Keldias that is not for the faint of heart.

This is a review combined with a supplementary video review. You can watch the video review or read the full review of the following:

Soul acquisition
Developer: Reply Game Studios
Publisher: Modus Games
Platforms: Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 5 (reviewed), Xbox Series X|S
Release date: September 20, 2022
Players: 1
Price: $49.99

Right off the bat, you can’t help but notice the direct inspiration for this game’s design. At first glance of Briar’s enormous greatsword, popular Japanese manga series Berserk and Claymore immediately comes to mind. Fortunately, I don’t know anything about any of them except that they exist, so I’m not going to go on a diatribe about how Briar is out here ripping off Guts.

Concepts and struggle

IN Soul acquisition, you play as a girl named Briar and the ghost of her little sister Lute. Briar is a chimera, which is a person who has been fused with the soul of another who acts as their spectral companion in the form of a shadow.

Briar is a warrior who wields a large greatsword, eventually ending up with several other weapons throughout the game, each with their own unlockable combos as well as unique strengths and weaknesses depending on the enemy type.

As a shadow, Lute has the power to disrupt the air around Briar, and as such, she is able to project two different fields that allow for innovative gameplay mechanics.

Both require you to activate a specific field to damage enemies, while also controlling how much strain the field puts on Lute so she doesn’t get overloaded and then banished for a few moments while she recharges her spectral energies.

Although there is much to process here, Soulstice’s The biggest problem is that it always seems to get in its own way. Combat tries to be intricate, but there are a lot of design choices that make things far more frustrating than they should be due to the developers trying to make the combat feel deeper than it needs to be.

The game obviously rips off the original devil may cry trilogy, so why there aren’t just smaller things to contend with is a little confusing.

The match is already hampered by the obviously unreliable lock-on system, the annoying camera (more on this later), but the absolute most fundamental thing this match needed to succeed was to cancel the animation. Unfortunately, you can’t jump out of an attack once it’s started. This means you have to be deliberate with every turn, and that’s a big problem.

Soul acquisition make the most of devil may cry playbook. You are judged on how good a fight is by attack variety, how much damage you take, kill speed and combo multiplication. On top of this, you must land a full combo before other attacks can be used. This is such a staggeringly difficult decision to wrap my mind around.

Why on earth would I have to land a combo that is performed by “square, square, pause for a second until the weapon flashes, square, square, square” to unlock the synergy attacks that trigger automatically while Briar and Lute’s synergy is high?

It’s convoluted and unfortunately I was almost 30 hours in Soul acquisition until I finally figured out how to explain what the problem was with what I was seeing on the screen.

Coupled with an overwhelmingly complicated combat system is the fact that the game lets you play at a difficulty level that you won’t have any of the skills necessary to attempt fairly, and you’ll likely find yourself quitting the game due to unreliable or roguelike battle before you reach the first boss battle.

Yes, for the record, I’m aware they added a “game journalist” mode by letting you turn on game assists to make you suck less, but that’s not the kind of thing we do here at Niche Gamer because we are actually enthusiasts who enjoy playing video games.

So similar if you’re past all that, Lute’s ability to help you in combat revolves around a quick time event style of pressing the circle button when prompted, and getting a perfect counter/dodge/deflect relies on both of you being able to manage your combo attack while also sliding over and pressing the circle button at the moment you expect the message to appear.

You eventually unlock skills that make this system far less punishing, including Lute’s ability to auto-react to one every few seconds if you miss the prompt, but none of this is unlocked until you’re significantly further along in the game.

When it’s harder, the average person won’t continue playing because it’s simply not fun. You don’t even unlock Briar’s berserk ability until several chapters in, which is this game’s equivalent of a devil trigger, and it’s what makes most of these fights manageable as mini-bosses become normal enemies.

History and progression

Soul acquisition is a long ass game, is it twenty five chapters. Some chapters are simply a boss fight, and some chapters are quite short, such as the one where you fight a few waves of enemies going up the elevator, but it’s still a long game.

Maybe it’s not that the game is as ridiculously long as that feels indecent long because of how dependent it is on set pieces. After a few chapters you’ll find yourself going “haven’t I already been here before?” and everything gets blurry because they reuse a lot of the scenery to add more sections to the game, and there’s a lot of running back and forth through the hallways that really should have been cut.

I had to force myself to finish Soul acquisitionnot because the story wasn’t good – far from it actually – Soul acquisition actually has a super interesting (albeit predictable) story and is setting itself up for a trilogy of games if they want to go that route.

The problem is, it’s just not fun to keep going through what feels like the same few areas over and over again. devil may cry speed races usually end up around 1 hour and 30 minutes, and God bless him, but here’s a guy who’s speeding Soul acquisition took 4 hours and 30 minutes.

I really like the story, but it’s not that fun to play through because it’s so repetitive. Combat always boils down to the same few basic combos, requiring the same mastery of switching from red to blue squares, and solving fairly simplistic puzzles.

The puzzles wouldn’t be half as difficult if they hadn’t gone with a cinematic fixed camera that fails to show any actual depth to the environments. It’s a shame because the game is otherwise quite stunning to look at.

Even though the camera does disengage during combat, it’s still impossible to manage while handling all the other busy work included in combat, adding even more frustration to a game that should have been a hit with fans of action/hack and slash genre.

Final thoughts

I really wanted to love Soul acquisition. Briar and Lute have an interesting story to tell and most of the voice work is really well done here. The memory parts take way too long and Briar is for some reason both huge and naked in them? I guess that’s a plus for people who have an undying desire to see drawn nipples in games, but it felt completely unnecessary.

If we see a sequel or two too Soul acquisitionI hope they take some of these things into consideration. Remove the excess bloat, add some animation cancels, and for the love of God, don’t make a hard difficulty available from the start.

Soulstice was reviewed on PlayStation 5 using a copy provided by Modus Games. You can find additional information about Niche Gamer’s assessment/ethical guidelines here. Soulstice is now available for Windows PC (via Steam), PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X|S.
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