Souldiers (Xbox One) Review
Gorgeous 16-bit presentation looks like a killer SNES game
Three playable classes and action-based combat is very responsive
Tons spaces to explore, stats to increase, map icons to clear, and isn’t a Rogue
Areas can be a little big that takes time to traverse especially when backtrack is necessary
Plays well you’ll wish online co-op was a feature
Makes you want another Valkyrie Profile game or ports of old games on new hardware
What can easily be misunderstood by the title, Souldiers is actually an action-based Metroid-like as opposed to some new spin-off title in the Souls series. This is actually a delightful quest, one that is filled with glorious 2D artwork and responsive combat.
Playing as a soldier who is being guided by a Valkyrie, you are not really sure if you are alive or truly dead. To figure it out, you need to navigate your way through some vast environments as one of three classes that all play differently. Combat can be tough but it is always fair and fluid. This isn’t a button masher as players will need to learn how to dodge roll and block just as much as go on the offensive. It feels right and easily stands as a highlight of the experience.
Even if you do not play Souldiers, I encourage you to at least watch the trailer or a let’s play just so the wonderful 2D spritework can be admired. Each sprite is animated well and filled with personality. The backgrounds are detailed and provide environmental storytelling. Even the opening animated cutscene is nothing short of amazing. You really don’t see art in games like this anymore and you’ll think Vanillaware was involved in its creation. The visuals are also backed by a properly accompanying soundtrack.
The difficulty remains high by it not Souls-hard. There are little details, like how enemies stay dead until you restart, or how players can walk through a checkpoint to regain lost health or take the time to save, or can take advantage of a teleport system to reduce tedious backtracking. Bosses will also kill you several times before you truly understand their attack patterns, making you think that you can do better with each failure. Points of interest are also automatically marked on your map, a feature happily taken from the Metroid series. It is also possible to grind to gain enhancements but each level up is mostly minimal. Sure, the game grows with the enemy roster but it’s the growth as a player that ultimately determines success and the entertainment value.
Souldiers doesn’t do anything new or different but each gameplay element or feature mixes well into a cohesive whole. It is refreshing to play a 2D side-scrolling sprite-based action RPG that plays as well as it looks, and one that isn’t a die-and-try-again rogue game.
Don’t Forget About: Metroid Samus Returns (3DS)
Better Than: dying for the millionth time in any Souls game
Wait For It: a new Valkyrie Profile title
By: Zachary Gasiorowski, Editor in Chief myGamer.com
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