SoulCalibur VI (PS4) Review

soul calibur vi

SoulCalibur VI was looking like an unlikely prospect a few years ago, after SCV was, frankly, a rather expensive mistake that pretty much killed the franchise dead. I always assumed if we got a new game it would be a reboot instead of SoulCalibur VI, but it turns out… we got a sort-of reboot that’s still called SoulCalibur VI…? Let’s take a look!

Background:

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Siegfried celebrates his hard-fought victory over “Warrior”.

SoulCalibur VI released worldwide on October 19th, 2018. It has a roster of nearly entirely returning characters, with two exceptions in Groh and Azwel, as well as guest character Geralt from The Witcher series.

The entry is a reboot of the original SoulCalibur game, meaning it still takes place after Soul Edge / Blade, but to be honest, most of the plotlines are kept the same anyway, so it’s almost a remake, just with some new characters thrown in, either entirely new or ones that didn’t appear until later entries. It’s an odd decision…

Gameplay:

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Mitsurugi vs. Taki, nothing looks more Soul Game-y!

As a 3D fighter, it’s pretty simple to explain, but obviously harder to master. You can move forward and backwards, like a traditional fighter, but also to the left and right, the camera rotating around you and your opponent as you do. There are heavy and light weapon attacks, a non-weapon attack button (normally kicks) and a block button, all changing when you either push a certain direction or several directions, and chaining certain button presses cause combos. Then there are throws, and a big special move (“Critical Edge”) that you can do if you build up a specific meter.

New to Soulcalibur VI is “Reversal Edge”, where you hit your opponent with a blow, then you charge towards each other and pretty much play a game of rock-paper-scissors, but with heavy, light and strike instead, whichever one beats the other does the damage. There are also “Lethal Hit”, where hitting someone at the right time will cause more damage, and some returning systems like “Armour Break”, where strong attacks can destroy items of clothing on characters, and “Guard Impact”, where you can block and push forward at the right time to get the ability to immediately counter your opponent. Overall the movesets are varied thanks to all the unique weapons, and are all easy to mess around with, and satisfying to learn and master.

As for modes, well “Libra of Souls” sees you create an original character as he/she travels the world and meets other characters (both created and in-game) and earns gold, levels up and gains stats RPG-style, with his actions dictating whether he’s “good or evil”, though that is my major complaint about the mode… You see, you can make obviously bad or good decisions which make you “soul scale” tip one way or another, but it makes no difference. I thought for a change I’d play as an “evil” guy, but he was still stepping in and stopping people from assaulting an innocent merchant, or generally acting like a nice guy in the written cutscenes, so what’s the point? I assume if I ever actually get to the end of the frankly tedious mode I’d get a “bad ending” rather than a good one, but it will feel completely superficial. Add in that you have to pay to travel around the map and do side quests with your earned gold (who thought that was a good idea?!) and the mode is rather disappointing…

Lucky the game has several other single player modes to get on with. “Soul Chronicle” serves as the standard story mode, where you follow mainly Kilik and Xianghua as they eventually defeat Nightmare. Then each character has their own story path at the same time, all laid out on a time line page, which is fun to see how they interact and when, in fact there are even markers for the Libra of Souls story points, making everything feel like one world. You then have all your standard affair, from Arcade Mode, to Versus, to a “Create a Soul” mode (with 100 slots!) and online. Add in a very detailed “museum” of bios, lingo and events and you certainly can’t say this game lacked content on release…

Graphics and Sound:

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So… which one is the evil one again?

The graphics are very good, nice lighting effects and some of the draw distance in the backgrounds are great, but I will say that certain recent releases have raised the bar, and therefore as odd as it is to say about a game that still looks great, it’s not as impressive as it could be. Still, it’s a fighter, and the fighting is good, so that’s the main thing!

While none of the background music is a catchy as “Bravely Folk Song” from Soul Blade, one of my top 10 background tracks of all time, they are all atmospheric and well created. The voices, in both languages, are good too. Funnily enough if you switch to Japanese voices the narrator will still be the overly dramatic English voice over guy, which is the best of both worlds in my eyes…

Story:

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If a game has to have artwork cutscenes rather than in-game ones, at least it’s damn good artwork!

After Sophitia and Taki defeated Cervantes and shattered one of the Soul Edge blades, Siegfried grabbed the other blade and became Nightmare, a creature hellbent on collecting souls. The main storyline focuses on Kilik, a monk who soon becomes corrupted by a piece of Soul Edge, but a mystic item known as the “Kali-Yuga” manages to control his transformation. He meets up with Elvis-like pirate Maxi and young sword fighter Xianghua and together the three manage to defeat Nightmare and shatter Soul Edge entirely. As I said previously, a lot of the storylines are the same as in the original one, though Kilik resisting a demonic transformation is at least new…

Some of the individual storylines also take place after this, including Siegfried regaining his self-awareness but also with the knowledge of his past deeds (both as Nightmare and before…) leading to him searching for the Soulcalibur in order to fully destroy the evil blade, a storyline from SCII onwards. Likewise characters like Talim and Raphael, who weren’t in the original Soulcalibur, have their first game plotlines brought into this one. Geralt has your regular Soulcalibur guest character storyline of mysteriously being brought to this land etc…

The new characters are tied to an organisation known as the Aval Organization, including Groh resisting the call of the evil blade, and Azwel being your classic crazy priest.

Downloadable Content:

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It’s a new DLC character! … Wait, no… that’s just my Created Soul. Never mind.

Fan favourite character Tira was a pre-order bonus, and then available for purchase character, and there are three more on the way, with 2B from (?) being the first. There will also be packs of Create a Soul parts and the like as well…

Thoughts Now:

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I know it’s a hot desert, but jeez, that outfit…

Soulcalibur VI didn’t have to do much in order to make me happy, as I was just thrilled it was happening at all. Thankfully it retains all of the great gameplay I’ve loved in the past, as well as given me plenty of single player content (something V certainly didn’t…), even if the main “Libra of Souls” mode is a boring slog. A good effort all round then, and hopefully in a good few years I’ll be talking about Soulcalibur VII…

4 Star Game New

 

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