I posted a while back about the announcement and a few character reveals for SoulCalibur VI, which I was super stoked for! It was the first game I’ve preordered and actually bought for myself in a long, long time. Now that I’ve played through it a bit, I’m coming back for a full review!
SoulCalibur VI takes us back to the stage of history – the original stage of history, as chronologically it takes place before/during the first game. We have the original roster back, plus some characters introduced in later games who make sense for a prequel. Geralt from the Witcher series serves as our guest character. I believe this was done because of the negative reception of SoulCalibur V, which introduced mostly new characters who were the children or protégés of main roster characters. The new characters in SoulCalibur V, especially the protagonists, were written poorly and were very one-dimensional. In addition, the story was rushed and much too short.
Both these issues have been addressed here in SoulCalibur VI!
(Heads up: After that last paragraph I’m going to refer to any SoulCalibur game by their abbreciated SCV, SCVI, etc… it’s just so long to type! X,D)
There are two quite beefy story modes for SCVI. One, called “Libra of Soul”, plays like an RPG. You create a character and play through your own SoulCalibur story, making choices that “weigh” your soul on a set of scales. Your scale can tip towards good or evil depending on the choices you make, and affects the story as you go forward. Pretty standard RPG stuff, but we haven’t seen anything like this in a SC game before, and it’s pretty neat! The most comparable would be the “Chronicles of the Sword” mode from SCIII, but that was more of a strategy mode than an RPG (if I remember right!).
The second story mode is “Chronicle of Souls,” which is more of a “traditional” SC story mode. You choose a character and play through their story! It is more beefed up than in the past, and laid out in a big timeline so you can see how your favorite characters’ stories overlap and interact within the bigger picture. It’s a nice quality of life feature that I really enjoy.
One thing I don’t like about the new story modes is the lack of cinematic cutscenes. I’ve so far come across none at all in “Libra of Soul” (at about 6 hours of gameplay) and only two in the few “Chronicle of Soul” stories I’ve played. Many of your interactions are only through text, or voiceovers with subtitles, with character profiles or illustrations, even for very dramatic scenes. After most of SCV‘s story mode was conveyed with what looked like unfinished concept art and voiceover with subtitles, it leaves a bit of a bad taste in my mouth. At least the art used in SCVI is much more polished, which helps. The few cutscenes I’ve seen in both story modes look so good, I can’t help wishing for more.
As far as gameplay goes, it hasn’t changed much. They did add two new features to combat. The first is “Reversal Edge,” in which you hold down R1 (PS4) or RB (XBO) to initiate what is essentially a “Paper, Scissors, Rock” interaction with your opponent. There is a slo-mo moment in combat while you and your opponent choose your attack: Vertical, Horizontal, or Kick. Vertical beats Horizontal, Horizontal beats Kick, and Kick beats Vertical. Guess right, and you deal a bit more damage than normal and look super cool doing it! Guess wrong, and you take a bit more damage than usual. If you’ve played the Injustice games and entered a “Clash,” the mechanics are the same. It’s a way to introduce an element of chance to an otherwise skill-oriented game.
The second new combat feature (they liked doing things in twos this time!) is the “Critical Edge” move. This is a character’s signature super-powerful move. This really isn’t new, as past games have had it, but it is much easier to implement in this game. As you fight, your “Soul Gauge” increases. Once it fills, you press one button to unleash your Critical Edge. In past games, triggering it was a string of button inputs that’s impossible for me to master! I like this game’s execution much better ;D
Visually, the game is stunning. The SoulCalibur series has very real roots in history, but has touches of fantasy that, to me, comes through in the art style. The stages, backgrounds, and characters are life-like but have something of an ethereal quality. No matter the game, each character looks polished and fresh-faced. Each stage looks of this world, and yet not. Maybe from a world like ours, but not our world exactly. This installment in the series is no exception.
I am very much enjoying the game, especially after I was so disappointed with SCV (save the character creation and Ezio from the Assassin’s Creed series being the guest character!). My favorite character, Cassandra, is not part of the roster this time around. I surprised myself by choosing her older sister and series staple Sophitia over Talim, who I feel is my second best character, first time I popped in my disk. I’m decent enough with Sophitia in past games – Cassandra’s fighting style is derivative of Sophitia’s, but much faster, and I prefer speed to heavy hitting – but I don’t really go out of my way to play as Sophitia.
Somehow, for some reason, in SCVI, Sophitia just CLICKED for me. I feel like I finally got over a roadblock that had been previously holding me back. I understand her flow now, and I never could before. I had always thought of her style as “not Cassandra”… when really, Cassandra’s style is “not Sophitia”! It genuinely had never occurred to me that Sophitia’s style was her own until this game. I’m curious now to go back to previous games to see if they changed something with her between SCIV and SCVI, or if I truly do understand her style now. I can’t believe it took my favorite character’s absence to realize it! I am hoping Cassandra comes out as a DLC character, but for now… I’m content with my new favorite, Sophitia ❤
Bandai Namco. SoulCalibur VI. 2018.