We discover the worth of our soul as we slash our way to victory
“Some of the game mechanics have seen minor tweaks; most remain intact”
There was a time when you couldn’t move without bumping into a fighting game. Everywhere you looked there were edgy characters punching other edgy characters in the face. Then, suddenly, there were seemingly none. Now, though, after releases from big names like Tekken, Injustice, and Mortal Kombat, it’s the perfect time to see the return of everyone’s favorite weapons-based fighter. This month we got some alone time with
Soulcalibur VI, and we’re pleased to report that the series is feeling and looking better than ever.
The team at Bandai Namco were tight-lipped about specifics of the story (despite our constant questioning), but what we do know is that we’ll be going back to the original timeline, to the start of the series during the 16th century. This adds credence to the theory that this will be a reboot of sorts. But seeing as the title has ‘VI’ at the end, it’s probably not going to be as simple as that. Given its setting we’re almost certainly going to see the return of our favorite fearless fighters, but new characters will also appear to give the story something of an overhaul.
We’ve already been given a glimpse at the first of these new characters. Grøh is part of the mysterious Aval Organization, and uses a twinblade weapon called Arondight Replica. This secret society originally wore heavy armor and carried shields, lances, and long swords. As time passed, though, the organization moved into more clandestine operations and the armor and weaponry became lighter to match their more secretive missions. Grøh employs multiple consecutive slashes with his blade, which can be split into two and used separately.
Along with Grøh, fans will be pleased to hear that Kilik, Xianghua, and Nightmare will be returning this time around, too. Interestingly, we’ve been told that this version of Nightmare will be the corrupted form of Seigfried—the original Nightmare from Soulcalibur II. We’re interested to find out more about his role in the story after a long absence…
A different caliber
We’re glad to note during our playthrough that although some of the game mechanics have seen minor tweaks in their execution, most of them remain intact. There’s a new addition called the Reversal Edge system which essentially has you initiating a combat challenge where time slows down and you must read the actions of your opponent and time your attacks accordingly. It also dials up the cinematic flare of your battles. As expressed by the developers, this is a new move to level the playing field for newcomers and veterans alike. The Reversal Edge is incredibly simple to perform but your opponent still has the opportunity to counter it, so it’s vital to pay attention. As a result the fighting feels incredibly fluid, but not overwhelming, and the combos seem easier to pull off while keeping the same level of challenge as you would expect. If we had to compare the gameplay to one of the previous games in the series we would have to
“So far everything points in a positive direction for Soulcalibur’s future”
say it plays most similar to Soulcalibur
II. Every attack seems to carry a similar weight, and the movement is just as fast and dynamic.
But enough of the preamble. We bet you’re wondering how our first match played out. Before the match started we noticed that there were 20 slots on the character selection screen and 12 for the stages—when we asked we were told that those were only placeholder screens and that we can expect many more characters and stages to be available in the full game. For now though, the only characters available for us to choose from were Sophitia and Mitsurugi; we selected Mitsurugi. Similarly there were only two stages to select: The Shrine of Eurydice, which is typically Sophitia’s stage, and the SnowCapped Mountain. It’s the latter for us as it seemed seasonally appropriate.
We started the first round pretty shakily, trying to familiarize ourselves with the controls after being away from them for such a long time. Immediately we noticed that the eight-way direction system is working just as we remember and started to dance around Sophitia as she slashed her sword in our direction.
We managed to land the first blow, chipping away at her health slightly, but Sophitia returned the favor with an aggressive combo which caught us off guard and sent us tumbling to the floor. Rolling away and picking ourselves up, we composed ourselves and counter-attacked, pulling off a couple of combos that went unchallenged. The remaining health of our opponent now matched ours. We could feel ourselves getting back into the swing of things—the game felt nicely familiar. Confidently, we hit with a Critical Edge attack—now mapped to a single button press, which feels intuitive and less disruptive of the ongoing battle—but Sophitia lashed out with her own and followed up with a brutal Reversal Edge, which we witness in person for the first time—and in full force. Even though we were on the receiving end we were thoroughly impressed. A few slashes later we lost the round.
Now that we had warmed up we were ready to take this Greek warrior down. We didn’t wait for her to make the first move this time; we thrust our sword in her direction and pummeled her with a barrage of attacks. She tried to back up, but we caught her with a Critical Edge attack of our own and sent her flying. Barely waiting for her to get up, we used the new Reversal Edge ourselves but… well, we messed it up, okay? Sophitia just cut through our attack, and we were left embarrassed. She went for us again and we exchanged blows. We were confident, but that turned out to be our undoing—we realized too late that we were dangerously close to the edge of the stage. We tried to roll out of the way, but she laid into us and won the second round with a classic
Soulcalibur ring out.
Disheartened but determined, we tried again. For some reason Sophitia didn’t put up as much of a fight this time, and we whipped her with a flurry of slices and dices. Before we knew it we’d taken her down with a KO. The same tactic worked in the next round, too. With two wins each, it was all down to the last round.
Beads of sweat formed on our brow. Everything seemed still… and then Sophitia lunged towards us; we tried to dodge but she landed another blow, and then another, and another, backing us towards the edge of the stage. We almost fell out of the ring after another swift attack, but we quickly dashed around her, switching places, and with a short sharp thrust we pushed her over the edge. Ring out! For our first match, it wasn’t bad—it was close toward the end, but we finish with our heads held high.
So far everything points in a positive direction for Soulcalibur’s future, but six years is a long gap between games, and a lot has changed in that time. The success of fighting games in recent years has been down to their ability to innovate and push the genre forward with the times. The introduction of the Reversal Edge system is a hint that Project Soul is aware of this, and we’re sure they’ll have more that’ll convince everyone that the soul still burns.
Main We’d like to see Soulcalibur VII focus on the Soul Edge getting contact lenses for the first time.