SoulCalibur VI is a fighting title, which has just been released by publisher Bandai Namco Entertainment: on Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and PC. Pitting two weapon-wielding characters against each other, this instalment of the famous franchise is somewhat resetting the series back to its roots.
SoulCalibur VI is a step both forwards and sideways from the last instalment, but both are positive movements. Critical Edge is unsurprisingly still the way to pull off super moves, though they do appear more often than before. Without losing an ounce of their impact, chances are a few will occur each match, thanks to it being a little easier to do. Guard Impacting and Breaking, the way to defend in the series, have seen a potentially large tweak, now costing no Soul Gauge charge. This adjustment doesn’t make these completely risk free but at least player don’t need to worry about the double penalty of mistiming them and losing charges.
The biggest change comes from the addition of Reversal Edge, a new rock paper scissor style mechanic. Thankfully, for someone like myself, the exact timing of Reversal Edge isn’t imperative – so it isn’t just another thing to mistime. Upon being triggered the fight goes slow-mo allowing for the choice to occur. Once locked in, in a cinematic way, the outcome happens and the fight continues. It is great for newer players but more experienced players may get annoyed by the disruption to the flow of the fight.
Twirling a long polearm or attempting to stab an opponent with a sword the size of a regular person provides a unique fighting game feel. Be it against the AI or an opponent SoulCalibur VI offers not only enjoyment from playing but also satisfaction from a win. With the opportunities to guard landing combos and Critical Edge moves can at times feel like a mini-victory in itself. Perhaps it is my standard button mashing to learn approach that makes it feel like this but while the game guides you somewhat it also leave you to your own fate. Therefore, when you start guarding and landing things, against the competent AI correctly, it feels like an accomplishment.
Returning are the fun classic characters such as Ivy, Zasalamel, Nightmare and Yoshitmitsu with similar movesets as before. Roster wise however, there are no characters more likely to grab headlines than the inclusion of Geralt of Rivia, who strangely fits into the series with his mid range sword swinging and spells. It does look somewhat odd to have such an iconic character fighting but it’ll surely attract the attention of a new set of gamers, due to The Witcher 3’s popularity. At the end of the day getting a slight bump in player base by any means can only be a good thing for the longevity of the title.
Story-wise fans have two different paths to follow, a more generic roster filled string of fights or a journey called Libra of Souls. My only gripe with the stories is the way they are presented. It’s not the art panels used but the number of times players need to spam the advance button to get through the scenes of text – it’s a minor thing but it builds up overtime. Soul Chronicle sees gamers participate in numerous fights which build together to tell a tale. It isn’t groundbreaking but it wouldn’t be exactly be below the benchmark set by a lot of the genre. On top of this is Libra of Souls – a custom character adventure. This is where SoulCalibur 6’s story mode get interesting, featuring some minor RPG like elements.
Players are given the choice of characters from epic lizardmen to standard fighters, with plenty of oddities in between. Once picked and pimped though outfits and options, players must assign the character a style from the roster. Gameplay-wise it is somewhat back to the string of fights logic but items are won as rewards. These can be consumables or weapons that can improve your character or act as stat buffs. This makes for more entertainment than just fight after fight, especially when you are fighting other custom characters – so you never quite know what will be coming your way.
When it comes to the fighting genre there is and has been for decades a significant difference between the attires of the male and female characters. Though this extends outside of the genre it is most notorious for the costumes chosen. In SoulCalibur VI there are some tasteful outfits and some… less so. It is a shame that the developers saw this as necessity to sell the game, when it is the movesets and weapons that are truly what makes the game stand out.
Amidst a plethora of fighting titles SoulCalibur VI is pulling no punches, or weapon based attacks, at trying to take the crown. Putting franchise feelings aside, there are many elements that the game is nailing; from the Libra of Souls experience to the fast paced fun on offer from each and every match. As with other triple-A games of the genre there is more to experience than just raw fighting, with an incredible visual experience to enjoy. There is the slight awkwardness when it comes to the clothing choices and unfortunately Reversal Edge won’t be everyone’s cup of tea. The game does feel somewhat more balanced than V and as long as the support lasts longer I can only see this continuing. Overall, the game does enough to slingshot the SoulCalibur series back to the top of the genre, to fight it out with the other franchises.
[Editor’s Note: SoulCalibur VI was provided to us for the review. The game was reviewed on the PS4 platform.]