We’re slowly starting to see more and more games that skip the previous console generation and only come to the latest flagship consoles. Soulstice from Modus Games is one such title, and was developed by Reply Game Studios. We’re taking a look at the PlayStation 5 version of the game.
What’s funny is that we’ve become so conditioned by the soulslike genre that the mere mention of the world ‘soul’ in a title has us thinking it’s going to be another take on the popular formula. Soulstice pleasantly surprised by breaking with that trend, and instead goes back to a formula we absolutely adored in the PS3 days: Devil May Cry’s combat-heavy action adventure style.
It’s very much a fantasy affair, where you take control of a warrior called Briar who walks the line between life and death due to her role as a Chimera – one who carried the ghost of her sister Lute with her and can channel that power in combat. You’ll learn more about the plight of these Chimeras over the course of the story campaign, and it’s definitely a game that goes heavy on the fantasy element.
Although there is the usual exploration and platforming as you traverse the world and find crystals and other rewards to help you upgrade, Soulstice is mostly about combat, and is keen on funneling you into a scenario where a wave of enemies appears and you can’t go anywhere until you take them down. Luckily, combat is instantly fun, even when you only have a single weapon to work with (your trusty sword). Over time, you’ll collect other weapons to switch between, and getting comfortable with switching mid-battle in order to most effectively take down different enemies with different weaknesses is very rewarding.
You can upgrade your weapons in order to become more powerful as well, but even more interesting is the ability to work together with your sister. While button mashing goes a long way (as it did in Devil May Cry), it’s extremely satisfying when you’re able to work these special abilities into your combos, dealing massive damage and keeping the string going by letting your sister block an incoming attack while you stay on the offense. Combat’s not just the emphasis of the gameplay, it’s also the highlight, and things like some of its casual puzzles are filler by comparison. The camera can be a bit wonky, but that’s really a minor issue that doesn’t detract much from the fun.
Soulstice is a great looking debut game from a new studio, with some impressive boss designs and only a lack of diversity in its environments holding it back a little. With a lot of the AAA studios not currently tackling this genre, it’s a delight to play a quality take on a formerly popular formula, even if it does have a few rough edges. And we felt enough of a challenge at the regular difficulty level, so the availability of harder ones give this some lasting appeal to gamers who love a challenge as well. A successful homage to a modern classic from a newcomer that’s worth checking out.