14th Nov2018

‘Soul Calibur VI’ Review (PS4)

by Xenia Grounds

soul-calibur-6-ps4

Soul Calibur VI had a lot riding on its success. Soul Calibur 5 was blasted for its weak story and how it replaced popular characters with not so great successors (if you can call them that). There were some people ready to declare the series as dead after its long absence. The decision was made to take the series back to basics and hopefully capture the appealing magic the series once had.

Don’t let the 6 fool you. Soul Calibur VI is a reboot in many ways so you can jump into 6 without any prior knowledge of what happens in previous instalments. There are also new additions to this original story with characters like Groh. Another plus are fan favourites like Zasalamel and Talim being in this reboot even though they were introduced after the original game. Talim is my favourite character in the series and not having her in Soul Calibur 5 was something I personally despised like many Soul Calibur fans, so I’m glad that was fixed.

I’m a gamer who loves storytelling in their games and in my eyes, Soul Calibur has a good story which isn’t common in a lot of fighting games. However, the problem that was pretty consistent in earlier Soul Calibur games is that a lot of great story or character moments were told rather than shown. Basically, you had to read a manual’s worth of information if you wanted to know more about these characters, their history with Soul Edge and why they either wanted it sealed away or wanted to use its power. Soul Calibur VI mostly fixes this problem with Soul Chronicle. Yes, there is still some reading but it’s mostly extra material. You actually get to play out these character’s origin stories and the story is handled much better than 5. In Soul Calibur 5, the main story was rushed, the characters were not very likeable, the dialogue was so wooden that you could’ve been fooled into thinking you were watching someone’s terrible fanfic and it was mostly told using lazily drawn still images. On the other hand, Soul Calibur VI fixes a lot of these issues. Yes, still images are used in the story mode but because there’s a lot more effort put into them as well as the voice acting of these characters, it isn’t anywhere near as bad. I really do wish that the game would dabble more in creating more cutscenes during story campaigns because Soul Calibur VI is so gorgeous but this game is a step in the right direction.

The main story centres around Kilik and his journey to find and stop Nightmare after his home is attacked, everyone he knows is killed and he only survives because his friend gives him an item that prevents him from being malfested by Soul Edge at the cost of her own life. Along the way, he finds allies in his quests such as Maxi and Xianghua who become great friends and go through their own great moments in the story as well. It’s a pretty straightforward adventure and as a long-term fan, it was a very nice touch seeing how this game touches on and explains things that would become so prevalent for these characters further down the line. Other characters also have their own story in Chronicle and each is worth playing although some are much shorter than others.

Another story mode in the game is Libra of the Soul. This one plays out differently than Chronicle as it’s more like Chronicles of the Sword from Soul Calibur 3 combined with Weapon Master from Soul Calibur 2. Essentially, you are placed on a map of the world and you travel all over it doing any missions that come your way. The story of Libra is you get to play as a character you create and you travel the world in order to seal astral fissures. Your character has become infected by Soul Edge’s energy and the astral fissures energy are the only way from becoming a full-blown malfested which if I had to describe it, it’s basically a very powerful and homicidal zombie. As that goes on, you come across other Soul Calibur characters, you form your own relationship with them and things start to escalate as you get caught up in a bigger ordeal. This is a story mostly told through text boxes and the way that character faces are shown here is not the best. It can be a little off-putting as it’s like being in the uncanny valley. However, there are some great cutscenes to watch when they happen (again, it’s few and far between) and I found myself more invested as the story went on.

Some of the missions in Libra are genuinely frustrating though. Nearly every mission involves a fight and many of these fights come with conditions so you have to include some strategy and thought when it comes to winning as you may have to change your weapon style to get the victory. That part is fine but you will quickly come to hate some of the conditions especially the one where the stage is slippery and you have to fight multiple enemies. Cheap losses via ring out can happen very easily in those circumstances and starting from the beginning is a real pain. Something that can be both appreciated and hated at the same time is the enemy difficulty. For the most part, getting through Libra isn’t incredibly hard but it won’t be a breeze which was one of my issues with a majority of Weapon Master. As long as you apply the right technique then you’ll be fine for many missions but there are moments where the difficulty can skyrocket. The biggest instance of this is the final boss who feels ridiculously OP which may lead to a rage quit or two.

As far as gameplay is concerned, Soul Calibur VI keeps the series standard of having two combatants fight each other on a stage. The new mechanics introduced are Reversal Edge which happens when the player blocks an attack. Time slows down and the player is given the chance to strike back. It’s a nice defensive feature but it’s a case of direction as well since this mechanic works both ways and depending on which direction you’re moving in; you may leave yourself vulnerable to an attack. The soul meter is in this game as well which gives players access to two mechanics: Soul Charge and Critical Edge. Critical Edge essentially serves as a flashy super move that takes up one portion of the meter but seeing your Critical Edge finish a battle never stops being fun. The Soul Charge works differently as it increases your power in battle and gives you access to unique moves but it drains the entire meter in the process so you need to learn how to use it effectively. Lastly, there’s Lethal Hit which isn’t so easy to master in comparison to the other battle mechanics. Lethal Hit is a powerful attack and if used correctly can leave your opponent vulnerable to a follow-up hit as well as cause armour destruction.

Soul Calibur VI revitalises a franchise that had a very bad misstep and makes fans remember why they love this series as much as they did while inviting a new generation of gamers into its circle. This game is fun to play online and with friends but it doesn’t alienate those who play solo with its massive amount of single-player content. This tale of souls and swords proves it is worth the retelling.

Soul Calibur VI is available on Playstation 4 and Xbox One now.

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