Soulstice is a new boxing game from the developers of Fight Night and one that looks to combine gameplay with an animated film. In this preview, we see how it plays out in a feature-length trailer for what will be available Early Access later this year on PS4.

Soulstice is a new game that has been announced by Berserk. The game is set to be released on the Nintendo Switch and will have players take on the role of a berserker who has lost their way.

Few manga series have made as much of an impact as the gore-filled cult favorite Berserk. Video game series like Final Fantasy and Dark Souls have drawn heavily on the late Kentaro Miura’s work, therefore its impacts may be noticed there as well. That was one of the things that got my attention during a preview session for Soulstice; the creators openly acknowledged that both Claymore and the manga series Berserk served as major sources of inspiration for the forthcoming action RPG. 

It’s simple to see why given its gloomy gothic setting and protagonist Briar’s spiky armor and powerful sword. The Berserk video game experience that so many people have always desired could finally be realized with Soulstice. I’m quite curious to see how the experience plays out after both hands-on and hands-off time. 

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You simultaneously control two separate characters in Soulstice, sisters by the names of Briar and Lute. The sisters had been ritually sacrificed and turned into a kind of hybrid weapon known as a Chimera while the demo was taking place in the middle of the tale. Lute is a ghostly apparition that always watches over Briar, who is in a corporeal body.

The concept of duality permeates every aspect of the game, including the plot and the dual-character battle system, which is reminiscent of Castlevania: Lords of Shadow and Devil May Cry. You have direct control of Briar, who uses a variety of weapons to dismember foes. The traditional big sword is there, of course, but the demo also offered me access to a sluggish but effective hammer and an AoE chain weapon. 

In the sample I played, the two were crossing a big bridge in an effort to reach the troubled city of Ilden. More evidence of death and devastation appeared as I got closer to the city, forcing me to fight my way past swarms of plague-ridden foes. 

Similar to Atreus in God of War, Lute will appear on your shoulder during battle and launch automated ranged assaults against adversaries. However, as Briar lacks any kind of block motion, you control Lute to deflect magic strikes (mapped to circle/B on a gamepad). Additionally, Lute has the unearthly skill of erecting blue and red purifying fields. When the associated field is up, certain adversaries may only be harmed during that time; however, if the field is up for too long, Lute will get overburdened and temporarily vanish. 

These many components may at first seem perplexing. Even yet, it doesn’t take long to get acclimated to the overall battle flow, with the sisters’ combined skills decimating swarms of adversaries. Combinations are simple to put together, and the game makes it plain when an enemy is attacking so you have time to defend yourself.

Soulstice includes two distinct currencies that are used to increase Briar’s and Lute’s powers in turn, but I obviously couldn’t witness the complete upgrading system in my brief trial. While Lute has a complex skill tree system that may improve her powers in several ways, Briar’s abilities and combinations are unlocked as you go through the game. 

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We’ll have to wait and see more, but Soulstice’s fighting system seems to offer a lot of complexity. The only issue I’m having right now is that Briar’s attacks lack sufficient weight, and everything is currently coming out as a bit too flowy. Both in terms of visual and acoustic design, games like Devil May Cry do a superb job of making your strikes seem as if they hit. The combat in Soulstice has a lot of promise, but right now there are a few crucial components that still need some fine-tuning. 

While the majority of Soulstice’s foes posed minimal difficulty for the sisters, my demo’s final boss encounter significantly increased the stakes. The boss, a bow-wielding monster, varied between three distinct mechanisms, one of which added a few simple foes to the arena. I could only harm it when utilizing a red field. Although the sudden increase in difficulty astounded me, the test allowed me to delve further into the game’s mechanisms. 

Soulstice mostly focuses on battle, but it also includes some brief platforming and puzzle-solving sequences to change up the pace. In one intriguing area, previous events appeared as a “echo,” and I could interact with the scenario to hear speech from historical figures.

This sight gave the impression that something intriguing was being escorted into the city by a group of knights, which added a hint of mystery to the situation I was about to enter. Combat engagements might seem a bit monotonous, so it’s good to have a few calmer stretches to change up the pace. 

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Nowadays, there aren’t many deep character action games, thus Soulstice seems like it may perfectly fill a need that still exists. Combat now appears quick and exciting, but it needs more substance, and I’m hoping that the whole experience can add even more depth. Cutscenes still need some development, and the animations have a bit of a sloppy vibe to them. Hopefully, those can all be worked out in the months before publication. 

However, the game’s concept and tone have already captured my attention, and if it can live up to its promise, Soulstice may wind up being a highlight of the year.

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