Soulstice Review (PS5) – A new developer’s solid entry into the Hack N’ Slash genre

Soulstice Review (PS5) – A new developer’s solid entry into the Hack N’ Slash genre

Soulstice PS5

Soulstice Review (PS5) – With only a couple of titles under his belt, Reply Game Studios takes on the hack n’ slash genre with brand new IP Soul acquisition. The inspirations behind this new title are quite clear, and shadows the likes of devil may cry.

Although it does not reach the same level of success, it takes on its own charms and strengths.

Soulstice Review (PS5) – A new developer’s solid entry into the Hack N’ Slash genre

Build a world

Soulstice opens with this bleak scene as Briar, a chimerical warrior, and the ghost of her dead sister, Lute, row through fog and jetsam to a coastline ravaged by conflict.

Briar and Lute work for an organization called The Order of the Ashen Hawk, which sends agents to various undead and demonic scenarios in the world to assess and solve.

Lute quickly realizes that this, their first mission, requires far more agents than just them. However, Briar takes it as an opportunity to prove their collective will and value to the organization and jumps in headfirst.

Voice work reflects this, showcasing two fantastic voice actors who work well together to add extra emotional purpose to everything you do.

Immediately when the game put me in control of Briar, I felt a strong comparison to how the original Devil May Cry games navigated their maps. The paths remain linear, and camera angles are usually fixed at dramatic positions.

The scenes displayed in Soulstice showcase massive, gorgeous landscapes that describe the type of zone you have in front of you. Many games show large landscapes, but these here remind me of how I felt when I first played God of War III.

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The backdrops don’t move at all or share the same dramatic spectacle, but the camera work combined with the level of detail and scale add so much oomph to the images.

I often look at the background as I run around and soon realize I’m making Briar run in place in a random corner.

Although Soulstice shares many components with DMC, the game itself differs when it comes to the narrative.

The story takes on a fairly serious presentation, focusing on the relationship between Brian and Lute as they deal with the chimera in Briar’s body.

This chimera gives Briar strength at the expense of much of her humanity. If she allows the chimera to take full control, she will lose Lute forever.

However, without the chimera power, she would not have the strength to fulfill her role for The Order. Even though it’s a simple premise, this story delivers well on what it wants to say.

Much like its inspiration, Soulstice lets you find secret paths and hidden nooks and crannies to find health-boosting items or experience orbs. These paths remain relatively visible as long as you don’t just fly through each zone.

Lean in for inspiration

In principle, much of the game’s formula follows the same techniques that come with the DMC titles: collect orbs, unlock new skills and combos, and take down bad guys along the way.

Despite all these comparisons so far, the overall result is something that mimics the series’ lower points, such as what Hiroyuki Kobayashi created in Devil May Cry 1.

That is not to say that the result feels cheap. Likewise, it screams the same style and presentation so often that a significant comparison cannot be avoided. Soulstice even has the challenge rooms hidden throughout.

Combat sees you control Briar using a sword and a list of other weapons to fight your way through demons and the undead. Attacks feel visceral yet interesting, choosing to generate that split second of pause with each impact.

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Lut plays as a support role that you control. Circle button messages appear when enemies attack you from anywhere on the map, whether it’s on screen or not. Hitting Circle causes Lute to temporarily freeze that enemy, giving you time to complete the combo, interrupt the target, or simply get out of the way.

She also activates different auras, which allow you to fight specific enemies or interact with different collectibles you find along the way.

This brings the object or enemy into your plane of existence so you can cut loose on it. This allows you to use the same weapons for everything you fight, so you can focus on what you fight instead of what you use to fight.

Echo can cry

As mentioned earlier, the narrative in Soulstice has a much more serious tone than its inspiration does. Whether you like that approach more or less is purely subjective.

What isn’t subjective is that combat doesn’t work as well. In Soulstice’s defense, the mechanics work as they should, and all controller inputs work on time and feel impactful on screen.

At the same time, the fight goes slower. This means you’re steadily mashing the same button combinations at a slower pace and seeing the same flow of matches over and over again.

Enemies tend to stand around a bit before attacking as well. Even on harder difficulties, the combat in Soulstice doesn’t require heavy focus.

Combine all of these things and you get a resulting system that can feel good at times, especially when it comes to boss fights, but more often than not feels repetitive.

Neophyte success

While combat in Soulstice measures your performance, battles prove more forgiving than many other hack n’ slash games out there.

When you chain combos, your multiplier increases. When you take damage, your multiplier goes down; pretty standard stuff.

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The way the game handles its multiplier favors you in two ways. The first is that you only lose 0.5 of your multiplier when you take a hit.

Your rating still goes down, but it only goes down based on how many times you get hit instead of a massive drop just from the one lucky attack that gets through.

The other way is that the active multiplier chain stays active much longer between attacks. Soulstice gives you almost 5 seconds of idle time before the multiplier drops off.

The display also shows a thin line that shortens, indicating how long you have before the combo falls.

While these factors don’t prevent combat from feeling slow and repetitive some of the time, it does make the game more accessible.

On that note, Soulstice also allows you to completely redesign your button layout. Even further, you have several colorblind options as well as different settings for displaying subtitles for dyslexia.

As mentioned before, there are 5 different difficulty settings. Combine that with the accessibility options, and Soulstice makes itself accessible to a wide variety of players without completely abandoning the meat and potatoes of the hack n’ slash genre.

A more accessible Hack N’ Slash game that maintains the strength of the genre

Soulstice makes a solid attempt at the button-mashing hack n’ slash genre by taking you on a journey with Briar and Lute.

Accessibility, narrative, and flexibility take center stage in this title, but combat pace and repetition both leave you with a desired, diminishing competitive depth native to the genre.

Regardless, the charm and style that runs through Soulstice wins the day, making this a great new inspired IP.

Soulstice is available on PS5.

Review the code generously provided by the publisher.

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