If the quality of the two missions I sampled can hold for the long haul, Soulstice will be one of the best character action debuts in quite some time.
Developer – Reply Game Studios
Publisher – Modus Games
Platforms – Xbox Series, PS5, PC.
Release Date – September 20, 2022
Earlier this month, I had the opportunity to get a hands-on preview of Replay Games’ upcoming action experience titled Soulstice. Despite having Souls in the title, I was more than happy to be surprised at the distinct lack of any Souls-like influence or inspiration.
Solstice was introduced as a kinetic character action game focused on respecting the golden rules of the classics in the genre. Classics such as Devil May Cry and Ninja Gaiden were mentioned as some of the games that helped create that gold standard that Reply Games followed in creating Soulstice.
When I asked the developers which golden rule for action games is essential for them to nail, they wanted to focus on character and action responsiveness. Inputting an action and having the game respond is key to a great action game. Nothing is worse than sluggish character response for an action game, and in my hands, they adhere to that design philosophy.
The other rule they wanted to respect was depth in combat choice. Soulstice features that in spades with its unique world and selection of playable characters.
Soulstice takes place in a sprawling city called Ilden. You play as Bryar and Lute, soulbound sisters who have become powerful Chimera. Unlike most action games, these are not two characters that you select and play at different times; you play as them in tandem. Lute was sacrificed in the ritual, and her soul is now bound to her sister. You can use each of them in combat to perform stylish and powerful team attacks and use unique powers.
While most of the action is tried and true, the game does feature several unique hooks. In terms of plot, the game’s structure is familiar to any character action veteran. You progress through linear levels with beginning and end cutscenes before you are slotted time for upgrades and moving onwards.
While it seems a bit dated, the clear and pure focus is admirable. Too many games are trying to be more ambitious than necessary or toss you in massive open worlds without much to see or do. The two missions I played were a blast to play and provided enough unique upgrades and enemy variety to keep the action fresh.
Character upgrades are limited to new skills and promotions for each character, but this is not a loot-driven game. Your sword is your sword, and this design helps keep the action laser-focused at all times.
The dual character mechanics push Soulstice into a different category of action. Managing both sisters in tandem is difficult at first, but the controls are snappy, and each of the sister’s strengths is made pretty evident. Use the big hammer on armored enemies, and filling up a stun meter will allow you to juggle and launch even heavy hit stun immune foes.
The two missions take place in different areas of the city, but they at least felt different in terms of look and gameplay design. Unique, straightforward puzzles help break up the action but never overstay their welcome.
Soulstice was already a fun character action game in my short playtime, and the passion from the developers and their adherence and respect to the golden rules were apparent. If the quality of the two missions I sampled can hold for the long haul, this will be one of the best character action debuts in quite some time. I will dig deeper and have more to say on Soulstice as it approaches its September 20 release date.