Sometimes you don’t want an epic tale or all out warfare when you sit down to play, sometimes all you need is a likable hero with an oversized sword on their back and truck loads of flashy attacks to put a smile on your face. Well that’s just what Italian developers Reply Game Studios have served up with their latest title Soulstice. Interesting fact about Reply Game Studios themselves, if you head to their website it oddly states that they are AA Game Developer – which is a first for me, seeing a studio state that they make middle of the road games… hmm, reaching for the stars there guys.
Back to Soulstice itself; which feels like the core idea of a mid-2000s hack and slash title has been ripped through time and given a few modern tweaks to make it standout. The core tale follows two sisters Briar and Lute, who have to close a rip in the Veil – a magic space which is linking their world to – you guessed it – a much more dangerous world, where there are bigger and nastier things to be found called the Wraiths. It’s not a new thing seeing these forces of evil trying to invade the Holy Kingdom of Keidas. This time they have gone all out bringing on an apocalyptic event, so it’s up to the sisters to stop them. Luckily though these siblings are “Chimeras”, which makes them hybrid warriors; born of the union of two souls (aka really strong and powerful) with one wielding a big sword and the other is a ghost… yeah no guessing who got the raw deal there.
As tales go it’s OK if a bit overly predictable at times, as our all-powerful sister’s battle to save their world, while meeting a few friendly faces along the way who help to flesh out their backstory, as well as the world too. Soulstice steps up a gear or two on the gameplay as you blend together light and heavy attacks with a few supernatural powers thrown in for good measure – often based around the defence side of combat, with there being a vibe of a Souls-like in there at times. As you play you’ll unlock and find more powerful weapons that help you dish out the pain and switching between them is the key to claiming victory with each fight you’ll face. When not in combat there is a fair bit of exploring the levels and platforming to be done, though beware the games camera system never really knows if it’s letting you control it or taking control from you, as it dances a fine line depending on what you are doing.
Visually the game looks fine as you explore a dark and gothic world and the screen filling with countless effects in battle. Sound-wise it’s fine too if a bit dated on the soundtrack front, as for the voice acting it’s also fine, if held back by the writing at times, and sees Briar and Lute being voiced by Stefanie Joosten (aka Quiet from Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain). Soulstice is an odd beast – as it feels like a game lost in time that does just enough to keep its head above the water. It’s a solid action adventure with few issues, though doesn’t push things hard enough; leaving it feeling very… middle of the road.
An Xbox review copy of Soulstice was provided by Reply Game Studios PR team, and it’s available now on PC, Xbox and PlayStation for around £40.
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