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Soulstice review
Dan Lenois


A game with lots of spirit, but occasionally fails to deliver substance.

Hack and Slash

Soulstice, a bold initial title from the newfound developer Reply Game Studios, made many headlines from the moment, earlier this year, when its publisher, Modus Games, began the sustained promotional campaign that led up to this point. From the ground up, Soulstice appeared to be a story-driven hack-and-slash action game that would allow players their unrealistic fantasies of carrying a sword twice their own body size and weight, while also enabling them to tap into the power of the undead, via Lute, the spirit that accompanies the game's main protagonist, Briar.

The game's primary plot is fairly straightforward. According to the game's official Steam page: "Briar and Lute are two sisters who have been reborn as a Chimera. The transformation has granted Briar superhuman strength and resilience, while Lute, sacrificed to bind her soul to her sister's, has become a shade with mystical powers. Voiced by Stefanie Joosten (Metal Gear Solid 5), Briar and Lute are sent on a mission to reclaim a city in ruins that has been ravaged by the Wraiths, only to discover that the Order they belong to has a far more complex plan in mind."

While the premise promises intrigue and prompts at least nominal curiosity, especially when it comes to seeing the relationship between the two separated, and yet inseparable, sisters deepen and evolve over the course of play, the inconsistent execution of the gameplay ultimately proves to be Soulstice's biggest stumbling block. Examples of this can be found in nearly every aspect of the game design.

Camera issues

The fixed camera perspectives are beyond horrible. While the idea to enforce strictly-defined fixed camera perspectives was debatable enough, its actual implementation is downright horrible. There are many games that have managed to pull off the retro-inspired fixed camera perspective successfully. Soulstice, it appears, is not one of them.

Combat is highly repetitive, in the most tedious sense possible, with the game frequently falling back on nearly the same exact enemy types and group composition in every single combat instance scattered throughout the highly-linear levels. Boss fights are absolutely where the game is at its finest. These encounters come across like vivid rainbows following a summer downpour. Such moments force you to play carefully, although mistakes are permissible, as long as you don’t make the same mistake more than once. If you're looking for a Souls-esque challenge, you're not likely to find it. But if you're looking for a fun and memorable romp, you'll meet these experiences with adequate enjoyment.

Exploration meanwhile, a feature that was strongly emphasized during the game's promotional tour, only serves to further underline the flaws found in other areas. By exploring, players are likely to find hidden portals that teleport them into special combat arenas where they have to complete specific challenges that emphasize certain skills, like dodging or countering.

Removing the player from the decent art design of the traditional levels, and placing them into a generic lifeless arena isn’t quite the addicting eye-attracting feature that the developers may have first conceived it as. The bland aesthetic is only made worse when you realize that invisible walls are everywhere.

Mobility holds a whole host of issues. Movement speed here is unbearably slow. Briar's default run speed makes her often appear akin to someone going through the motions of running, without ever bothering to commit to the idea. Given this, it's little wonder how, throughout the story, everyone around her seems to be arriving at key locations long before her.

Lute, the companion spirit, feels fairly wasted as an entity. While there are some wonderful opportunities for specific combos, these are extremely limited in number, as most of Lute’s abilities revolve primarily around limiting the extent of impending damage, with a secondary skill set being her ability to form temporary material constructs, enabling you to engage in the game’s platforming sequences. It doesn't make any sense to have a single spiritual stamina bar dictate both your platforming skills and your damage mitigation passive skills. Streamlining in theory can work wonders for certain games suffering from feature creep, but having both your defensive abilities and movement abilities share the same stamina bar utterly boggles the mind.

Content and progression

It may sound like everything is doom and gloom when it comes to Soulstice, but to suggest that would be a disservice in the extreme, for a few reasons. Firstly, the extensive amount of content available...Soulstice comprises a total of twenty-five levels, offering far more content in one single retail price than most AAA games offer even with the addition of the now seemingly-obligatory season pass.

Secondly, its progression system. Being able to upgrade two characters, instead of one, forces the player to constantly decide which character they want to invest more of their points toward. Briar and her active combat skills, or Lute and her lengthy list of defensive abilities and passive buffs. There is ultimately no right or wrong answer. The game provides you a reasonable amount of flexibility in this area to tweak both characters to your preferred playstyle.

Overall, Soulstice daringly makes the plunge into several genres and subgenres simultaneously, and ultimately comes away, predictably, as competent enough in most areas, but exceptional in none.

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fun score


Beautiful art style Great optimization Extensive skill trees


Bland storytelling Horrible fixed camera Repetitive gameplay