Last week we were invited to take a look at Modus Games’ newest action title Soulstice. Within our Soulstice preview, you’ll find out a little bit more about the setting of the game, the characters, basic tenets of the story, and of course, how the combat handles. We might even have tested it out on the Steam Deck, too.
Developer: Reply Game Studios
Publisher: Modus Games
Platform: Windows PC (Previewed), PlayStation 5, Xbox Series S|X
Release Date: September 20th, 2022
Price: $39.99 (Tentatively per the Publisher)
Story and Plot
Our Soulstice preview kicked off and we were in a waterfront area that appeared to look like a ship harbor, where merchants and what not would come into the port in order to drop off trades and perform various types of commerce.
Not much different from what you’d expect to find outside of a Castle’s gates, but this area that once appeared to be bustling and energetic now appeared ravaged and chaotic, with an ominous vortex of light swirling in the background.
We would later find out that this was actually a dimensional rift that had gone horribly wrong and now it’s up to protagonist Briar and her ghastly sister Lute to try and save this world from the clutches of the evil that spilled out from this rift. The full preview build contained sections of both the second and fifth levels.
Briar and Lute collectively make up one entity, in this world they are called Chimeras, and these are essentially two people who have been fused together by their souls by way of a ritual that wasn’t quite explained.
There are also other Chimeras in this world, and they make up a sect known as the Order of the Ashen Blade. Along your path, Briar and Lute meet up with Layton the Observer, who acts as your spirit guide to this world, allows you to purchase upgrades, and offers advice about the world or what’s next for your tasks.
The plot points were intentionally pretty vague, but there’s some interesting building blocks being laid to this foundation. Immediately, I was reminded of both Rodin from Bayonetta as well as Vulgrim from Darksiders as I interacted with Layton the Observer.
This relationship should be one that takes a few curious twists given Layton’s mysterious mask that looks like a Phanto from Super Mario Bros. 2.
Combat and Mechanics
During our Soulstice preview, we found that combat looks like it’s going to be another hack and slasher filled with over the top stylish combat and ridiculously large combo strings, but it’s a little bit deeper than that once you dive into it.
Yes, it naturally has the things you’d expect – Briar has her choice of seven different weapons that she can swap between, while you can also command Lute to do her own things to add to mix. As they defeat enemies together and extend their combos, they have a bond meter that strengthens which when filled allows them to unleash combined attacks for massive damage.
One of these combo attacks has Briar call out to Lute who calls lightning down into Briar’s weapon for an electric explosion of sparky good times. In the playable demo, you can only switch between her normal sword attacks and a chain sword that would make Ivy from Soul Calibur and Fury from Darksiders giggle with glee.
The chain sword was a lot of fun to play with, opting for less damage per swing but with a flashier attack and easier combo extending.
As you challenge enemies, you’ll find that there are two different types of enemies and killing them reward different types of, for lack of a better word, souls. The ghostly enemies are Wraiths while the once formerly human enemies are simply Possessed.
You’ll use the two types of currencies to unlock different skills, but you’ll also find there’s a bit of a catch to those currency types – as Briar has access to activate both blue or red fields around her. This leads to deeper combat which will require you to not only prepare for puzzle solving but also cuts down the tedium of mindless button mashing.
Wait, so there’s puzzle time?
During the course of Soulstice preview, we were able to find certain areas where using your Evocation (blue) or Banishment (red) fields will uncover hidden secrets like dialogue from people who were there previously before the catastrophe happened, new platforms to jump to reach alternate areas, or simply clusters of currency you can break to help you unlock skills faster.
You’ll also use these fields to fight off certain enemies that are only vulnerable while under the effects of these fields and you’ll have to be clever and quick to avoid running out of time as the fields have a limited amount of time they can be active for.
We found that during our Soulstice preview, the game is shaping up to be really neat though we’re still on the fence about how the story is going to flesh out.
The settings we saw looked great and the game played pretty decently, even on the Steam Deck (though it was a bit laggy on the default settings but still completely playable) performance was pretty decent for a game that’s still a few months away.
With a little more polish, Soulstice is going to entice fans of Devil May Cry and that ilk with a thought provoking tale of two sisters and their efforts to banish the scourge of the world they’re in.
Soulstice was previewed using a preview build playable on Steam via Windows PC and Steam Deck. Soulstice is currently in development by Reply Game Studios and is set to release on September 20th, 2022.