PREVIEW: ‘Soulstice’ Puts Its Spin on the Hack-and-Slash Genre (PC)

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Soulstice is the newest game from Reply Game Studios and publisher Modus Games. This time, they are tackling the hack-and-slash genre with a unique spin. Inspired by manga and anime, particularly Berserk and Claymore, the developers have created a whole new world where spirits and monsters are real. You play as the Chimera, Briar, who, after an unfortunate event, is connected spiritually to her lost sister, Lute. You must go to Illden, a magnificent city where a massive tear of spiritual energy towers over the buildings. Briar and Lute, along with other Chimera, are the only ones who can stop this supernatural threat.

One of the defining characteristics of Soulstice is its focus on weapons. Throughout the game, you’ll unlock seven different weapons, which also serve as your progression system. In the demo, I was given a chance to test out the whip, the greatsword, and the shortsword. Each felt very distinct from the others and felt like they served a specific purpose. For instance, ghost enemies were unleashed during the boss fight in our preview. These ghosts dealt massive damage and staggered me. The greatsword was perfect for these enemies; they were taken care of after a couple of quick hits and stunlocks. Plus, switching between these three weapons was fast. No unequipping and reequipping; just picking a direction on the D-pad. All of this works well with how fast-paced and free-flowing the combat felt.

As for the progression system, instead of skill trees, you build out these weapons to work for you. All you have to do is invest in the weapon abilities that work for your playstyle. Upgrading Lute felt more like a traditional skill tree, with unlocks that improved both offensive and defensive capabilities. The highlight of this system is that respeccing is entirely free. While the developers confirmed that it is possible to unlock every single skill, that didn’t feel important since switching out skills was so easy.

Finally, the aesthetic of Soulstice feels excellent. This game feels dark fantasy, and it comes through with not only the worldbuilding but the enemy design and the music. Similar to other 3D hack-and-slash games, the music is intense. When the music ramps up, the gameplay feels more intense. It felt like a mix of fantasy and heavy rock, which doesn’t sound like it works, but it does! But, I’m a sucker for a good string instrument used in anything but classical pieces.

Soulstice is trying to take the 3D hack-and-slash genre to a new setting. From my playtime with the game, I can tell you it works. The combat is simplistic yet deep. The lack of restrictions on upgrades has the potential to let anyone play the game the way they want to play it. All with one ultimate message—gameplay comes first. Every feature and story element is being made around the gameplay. After more refinement, I can’t wait to see how great the final product feels this fall.

Soulstice will launch on September 20, 2022, on Xbox Series X/S, PlayStation 5, and PC.

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