|System: PS4, Xbox One, PC|
|Dev: Project Soul|
|Pub: Bandai Namco|
|Release: October 19, 2018|
|Players: 1-2 Player|
|Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p||Blood, Mild Language, Partial Nudity, Violence|
by Jenni Lada
There are some games where you can tell immediately what it wants to offer you the second you get to the main menu. With Soulcalibur VI, people have a game that wants to give them options. It wants you to have the opportunity to go through solo campaigns with 20 of its iconic and existing characters or original avatars you put together. It offers a chance to play in matches against the computer or real people, either offline or online. If you feel like the people already there are only so-so, it even gives you a Creation section that lets you make new people or tweak the existing ones. Soulcalibur VI is a fighting game with a lot of freedom to it, which lets people find their own flow.
In the best Soulcalibur games, fights feel more like an elaborate dance than a brawl, and Soulcalibur VI is no exception. This is a fighting game that flows. Every move can gracefully transition into the next, allowing you options. Predicting what sorts of moves an opponent might use to attack or react lets you transition into attacks of varying heights and strengths. It is so satisfying when things flow together perfectly, even if it means you are on the receiving end of a devastating attack. It is also just as pleasurable when you manage to anticipate what someone is about to do and hear the clash of metal on metal when two weapons meet.
That anticipation comes into play with the Reversal Edge mechanic. This is new to Soulcalibur VI and fits perfectly into a match. When this triggers, time slows. You have an opportunity to try and gauge what your opponent is going to do and react accordingly. This might mean an opportunity to dodge an attack or strike at an angle you think they may not expect. Even here, two people making the same decision can result in weapons clashing and the process extending as you wait to see if one can come out on top of the other.
This fluidity is part of why Soulcalibur VI’s range is so great. It is by no means a button-masher game, but the transitions present allow people of different skill levels to find a way to enjoy it. Figuring out how attacks work, which weapon ranges and fighting styles work best for you, and experimenting with moves is a very freeing experience. Especially since the game is designed to constantly provide people with information. It clearly tells you the general ease of use of each character and allows you a chance to see how they might work. Special attacks use standard sorts of inputs, but even a newcomer relying on face buttons and the triggers can start pulling off complicated grabs and impressive moves. Meanwhile, those who do dedicate themselves to a character can figure out how to attack from all angles and positions.
Soulcalibur VI’s wealth of gameplay modes also showcase the game’s range. The Battle and Network modes are fairly standard ways of facing off in fights against the computer or other people. Casual and ranked, private and worldwide options all appear. You know, the basic things you would expect any solid fighter to have so you could spend maybe a half hour or an hour enjoying some matches. But it is the Creation, Soul Chronicle, and Libra of Soul modes where people are clearly expected to spend the most time. Each of these is a meaty way to explore and use characters.
Soul Chronicle is Soulcalibur VI’s standard story mode. It has just this huge, massive timeline, where people can see what everyone is doing at specific times. The series could be intimidating at times, and a quick glance at the main page for this roster immediately clears things up. It kicks off by explaining Cervantes once claimed the cursed Soul Edge, Sophitia smashed one of Soul Edge’s two blades at the near cost of her own life, Taki saved Sophitia and defeated Cervantes, and Siegfried claimed the remaining blade. Evil Seed was let loose when he did, and the lives of the 20 playable characters in Soul Chronicles was changed as a result. Different matches may have different criteria or limitations here, such as not being able to use Soul Charges/Critical Edges or needing to win three rounds to beat an opponent.
Libra of Soul is perhaps one of the most enjoyable custom character stories I have experienced in a while. Players’ original characters become tied to the Astral Chaos after being affected by the Evil Seed. What follows is a fighting game with RPG elements. You earn experience from fights. You can acquire food to alter performance. Decisions can be made that can be good or evil, which will in turn change the story and availability of missions. There is even eventually an opportunity to explore. There is a lot to do, plenty of familiar faces to meet, and different destinies to explore. The only gripes I have about it are that you can not export a Creation character you have already made to Libra of Soul and that the font here can be excruciatingly small and difficult to read. Other than that, it can be quite fun.
One thing to note is that both Soul Chronicle and Libra of Soul use static images and text to tell their stories. While some may feel this might make the game feel less cinematic, I thought it was a good fit. The Soul Chronicle even has voice acting, which tends to genuinely good and also sometimes the cheesy sort of good. Sometimes, we get more elaborate art to commemorate special events, which helps provide context in a pleasant way. (I would have appreciated more of these.) Given how large and long it is, it was an understandable choice. Also, if it ever feels too overwhelming to someone who just wants to get through the fights and earn points for unlocking Creation parts, skipping is an option.
Finally, there is the character Creation mode. It feels like a good start and is probably the only area where someone might find themselves wanting. There are sixteen different races to choose from for characters, as well as all fighting styles based on existing characters. An admirable number of hair styles are there to start, we can customize avatars’ body types, and it is possible to alter all sorts of colors and apply patterns and stickers to things. I just feel like there could have been a lot more armor, clothing, and accessory options, especially at the outset. The color and pattern options do allow people a bit more range, but I feel like about ten more immediately available to use or purchase with in-game currency item options in each category would have made it practically perfect.
Soulcalibur VI’s strengths lie in its willingness to cater to the people who will be playing it. This is a game that makes it easy for people of all skill levels to hop in and find a mode that suits them. You have over 20 possible fighters to choose from. If you like the feel, but not the look, of one, you can make your own using its playstyle and weapon. The various campaigns do a good job of telling a story while also giving people plenty of interactive fighting or exploration segments. The battling options offer shorter experiences against virtual and actual opponents to test you on what you have learned as you try to fight evil. There is so much to do here, which people willing to invest a lot of time will very likely appreciate.