Soulstice Preview: The Berserk Gave You Always Wanted

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Few manga series have had such a significant influence as the blood-soaked classic. Berserk. Its effects can be seen in video games, like series like Final Fantasy and dark souls were largely inspired by the work of the late Kentaro Miura. That’s part of what got me excited during a preview session of soulstice; the developers bluntly said both Berserk and another manga series, Claymoreserved as massive inspiration for the upcoming action RPG.

From its dark gothic world to the spiked armor and massive sword of protagonist Briar, it’s easy to see why. soulstice could finally deliver the Berserk video game experience that so many people have always wanted. After a time of practice and non-intervention, I’m extremely interested to see how the overall experience unfolds.

Soulstice’s the unique setup lets you control two different characters at once, sisters named Briar and Lute. As the demo played halfway through the story, the sisters were transformed into some sort of hybrid weapon known as the Chimera through a ritual sacrifice. Briar has a physical body, while Lute is a ghostly apparition that constantly hovers over her shoulder.

The idea of ​​duality seeps into every part of the game, both in the flow of the story and in the two-character combat system, which feels like a mix between the devil may cry and Castlevania: Lords of Shadow. You directly control Briar, who has various weapons used to hack enemies. There’s the default massive sword, of course, but the demo also gave me access to a slow but powerful hammer and an AoE chain weapon.

The demo I played had the couple traveling across a massive bridge, trying to gain access to the Ilden-ridden city. As I got closer to the city, more signs of death and destruction appeared, and I was forced to cut through hordes of plagued enemies.

Lute will appear on your shoulder during combat and automatically launch ranged attacks on enemies, like Atreus in God of the war. However, you control Lute to block attacks with magic (mapped to circle/B on a controller) because Briar has no type of block animation. Lute also has the otherworldly ability to set up blue and red purification fields. Some enemies can only be damaged when the corresponding field is open, but leaving the field open for too long will overwhelm Lute and cause her to disappear for a short time.

These different elements may seem confusing at first. Still, it doesn’t take long to get used to the general flow of combat, decimating hordes of enemies with the sisters’ combined abilities. It’s easy to link combos, and the game clearly signals enemy attacks and gives you time to react.

While I obviously couldn’t see the entire upgrade system in my short demo, soulstice has two different currencies which are used to enhance the abilities of Briar and Lute respectively. For Briar, you unlock new combos and abilities, while Lute has a whole skill tree system that can enhance her abilities in different ways.

soulsticeThe combat system seems to have a lot of depth, and we’ll have to wait and see more. The only issue I have right now is that Briar’s attacks don’t have enough weight behind them, and everything feels a bit too floaty at the moment. games like the devil may cry do a great job of making your shots feel like they connect, both in terms of visual and audio design. soulsticeThere’s a lot of potential in combat, but there’s just one key element that needs a little more tweaking right now.

While most soulsticeThe sisters’ enemies posed few problems, my demo ended with a climactic boss battle that upped the ante considerably. I could only damage the bow-wielding boss using a red field, and it alternated between three different mechanics, one of which would add a handful of base enemies to the arena. Honestly, I was amazed at the huge spike in difficulty, but the challenge really allowed me to dig into the mechanics of the game.

Although combat is the main focus of soulstice, the game mixes rhythm with some light platforming and puzzle-solving sections. A fascinating section brought up an “echo” of past events, and I was able to interact with the scene to hear dialogue spoken by characters from the past.

This scene featured a troop of knights escorting a mysterious object through the city, and it helped create a bit of intrigue for whatever I was walking into. Combat encounters can feel a little long, but having a few slower sections breaking up the pacing is nice.

Deep action games with characters are rare these days, and soulstice it looks like it could well fill a niche that remains open. The combat feels fast and engaging so far, but there needs to be more weight behind it, and hopefully the experience as a whole can create even more depth. There’s still some work to be done as cutscenes and the animations look a little rough around the edges. With a few months until release, hopefully this can all be sorted out.

Still, I’m already fascinated by the game’s setting and Berserk-style your, and if he can deliver on that promise, soulstice could end up being a star of the year.

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