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Test – Soulstice: the improbable mix of Dark Souls and DMC – Geeko

The small Italian studio Reply Game brings us with Soulstice its third creation, after Lone Wolf and Theseus.

If it had specialized in virtual reality, the Italian studio Reply Game has chosen to convert to the production of double-A games. He signs with Soulstice his most ambitious project. Edited by Modus Games, Soulstice presents itself as a Devil May Cry-like, lively and intense.

The game fills our eyes, visually.

The game transports us to a medieval-fantasy universe in which a tear has been created, allowing abominable creatures to sack several cities. For centuries demons and humans have clashed. To fight them, humans have trained elite soldiers, called Chimeras. The player embodies here one of them, Briar, who is accompanied by her sister Lute, a deceased young girl, who therefore appears in the form of a spirit, and who is able to manipulate space to allow Briar to strike his enemies in several dimensions.

If the universe of the game has charm, we regret that the plot is not more exciting to follow. The writers have chosen to focus here on the development of the central characters without taking the trouble to make us explore this universe yet full of potential, and that’s a shame. The staging of the game also remains globally minimalist with a few cut-scenes and dialogues between each mission.

The heroine duo.

On the gameplay side, the title presents itself as a curious mixture of Souls-like and Devil May Cry. From Dark Souls, Soulstice picks up its titanic boss battles, some of its difficulty, its ability customization system. But not in hand, the sensations are closer to those of a Devil May Cry. Our heroine twirls in the air and moves extremely fast on the screen. The fights are nervous and intense. And we fight not only melee but also at a distance. Arena combat sequences are separated from a few exploration, platforming, and puzzle sequences. In short, a formula very close to that of the classic Capcom.

Soulstice also brings its share of innovations with first of all a relatively varied arsenal, which continues to grow over the course of the adventure. You go from the sword to the warhammer in one click, and you will have the opportunity to add several other weapons to your arsenal over the course of the adventure, including a bow and a whip. As we said above, we control here also not one but two characters. Briar deals with melee attacks, her sister activates supernatural abilities – two actually, with left and right triggers. These will allow you to activate the evocation and banishment field, to be able to face enemies that are not accessible in your “dimension” (but appear however). The fields also make it possible to make objects invisible to the naked eye appear during the sequences of platforms and exploration. However, you will have to be careful not to activate it too much, otherwise your sister will dissolve and only reappear a few seconds later.

Sometimes it’s hard to find your way around the screen.

The trouble is that if on paper all this looked excellent, in practice, it is difficult to be convinced by this formula. Because casually, switching from one dimension to another permanently, it quickly becomes very annoying, and it does not in itself add anything more to the gameplay. Then, because during exploration and platforming sequences, the fields in question are often used to access secret areas… awkwardly concealed. Some of them are off-screen. All this brings us to the main flaw of the title: the management of the camera. Because here, we do not manage its positioning. This is a fixed camera. It is therefore impossible to direct it. And since some plans hide parts of the scenery, we often explore the levels blindly. Add to that a certain difficulty in finding one’s bearings in space, and therefore often in knowing whether we are hitting the enemy well or not, and you will understand that in practice, the gameplay is far from being as successful as it is. would have hoped… And then of course, there is the very messy side of the fights. As soon as there are more than three enemies on the screen, it’s hard to find your way around…

Another defect of the title: if the universe of the game is charming and the first levels flatter the retina, there is absolutely no diversity. You will have to get used to the long corridors and the empty rooms. The game also has the annoying tendency to repeat itself in its bestiary, its path and puts the emphasis on the destruction of decorative objects. For example, you get experience by destroying all the barrels you come across… We’ve seen more exciting.

Some bosses are massive.

On the technical side, however, it is almost faultless. Certainly, Soulstice has a somewhat generic side, and the design of the main heroine is completely missed. But visually, the game is very pretty. The sets are absolutely superb, the visual effects are neat and the game flatters the retina. Normal, it is a “new-gen” title only. The game’s soundtrack also impresses with excellent English voiceovers and a neat soundscape. Soulstice definitely looks like a double-A game.

Conclusion

Out of nowhere, Soulstice is the archetype of the little action game with enormous potential, which struggles to convince pad in hand, the fault of clumsily exploited ideas. Improbable mixture of Souls-like and Devil May Cry, Soulstice has at least the merit of blowing our minds with its splendid panoramas, its superb Gothic decorations and its impeccable artistic direction – if we put aside the heroine of the game. Reply Games’ game also surprises with the intensity of its fights, which remind us of the best hours of a Devil May Cry. Unfortunately, it also gets bogged down in handling, with a camera that often tends to position itself very badly, an overall lack of on-screen readability, overly repetitive sequences and concepts that sometimes work poorly… We think in particular of the use of the powers of Briar’s sister, which make progress far too painful. It’s a shame because, on paper, the title had everything to seduce. There remains a nice and rather entertaining “little game” of action, which has the merit of offering a refreshing universe for fans of a genre that is decidedly very fashionable these days.

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