SoulCalibur VI Review
SoulCalibur VI is the latest release in Bandai Namco’s fabled Soul series. Given the 2012 release of SoulCalibur V, SoulCalibur VI is the first title in the series in over six years. With an updated engine, new characters, the return of single player story modes, and revamped mechanics, we’ll cover the best of the fighting engine and the storytelling in the new modes. Check out our SoulCalibur VI review as we reveal to you the best and worst this game has to offer!
This game is a stunning visual work of art. As per series tradition, it pushes the system to its limits when animating every movement. The background designs are as beautiful as one might expect from the series, varied among castles, sky platforms, forests, and interdimensional Astral Fissures.
SoulCalibur VI’s epic soundtrack was composed by veteran composer, Junichi Nakatsuru. While featuring a list of orchestral epics and remixes from past games, it even feature a heavy metal track for decisive battles. “Lineage of Destiny” is probably my favorite theme in the game.
The game has a number of hits, like “Fortune Favors the Brave” and “Moon Oblivion,” the latter which goes beautifully with the Moonlit Forest stage. As mentioned earlier, expect remixes of themes, like “Wings of Faith,” “Sail Over the Storm,” and “Bred from the Gap.” I can’t say the soundtrack as a whole will be as memorable as the original games’ soundtracks were. But there is a selection of noteworthy tunes that stay true to the feeling of what makes SoulCalibur’s music memorable.
Libra of Soul
The game’s story is a retelling of the events of the original SoulCalibur games. While characters, such as Raphael, Tira, Zasalamel, and Voldo were added after the second or third game, all played an integral part in this title’s story. Similar to Mortal Kombat, it serves as a rebooted storytelling of all that transpired among the original games. Note that this includes Soul Edge (Soul Blade in America), the original title in the Soul series.
SoulCalibur VI features two single-player modes. The first is Libra of Soul, a mission mode. Fans of the original two titles will remember this mode as the Weapon Master Mode. The player will enter a map and the story will transpire about their journey.You will create a character and they will interact with various characters from the game. While the story progresses similarly, featuring dialogue to explain your actions, you’ll also level up towns and weapons. It has an RPG mechanic that allows you and your character to grow as well as utilize stronger weapons.
The second mode, Soul Chronicle, details the story of the characters’ history. You’ll learn of their struggle against Soul Edge, the demon blade that possesses others into a frenzied state and the sought out “Blade of Salvation,” and its counterpart, the holy blade “Soul Calibur.” Stills, dialogue, and voice acting tell the story, rarely ever relying on cutscenes.
Unfortunately, on both accounts, much of the writing isn’t important. The dialogue is mostly throwaway and rarely feels important. In Mission Mode, it particularly drags on with lengthy descriptions. I ended up skipping all the dialogue after the second chapter. As for Soul Chronicle, some of the dialogue is plagued with bad writing, some of which is based even on internet memes.
On the bright side, SoulCalibur VI introduces a number of characters to the series. Meet Groh, a mercenary from an organization sent to kill the Malfested. There’s also Azwel, a manipulative engineer of magic arts and a new major villain in the series. Their contrasting character points make for interesting dynamics.
Their dialogue, fighting style, and actions serve much better storytelling than much of the writing you’ll experience in the game. Azwel’s story, in particular, was quite eye-opening, as he portrays a sort of intrigued, human-loving messiah.
One of the most popular elements of the game is Create-A-Soul. Originally devised in SoulCalibur III, this offering includes 13 years of evolution and several games behind it. Featuring options to customize face, voice, skin, and many others, you can select and choose many armor pieces. You can also make your character an angel, a demon, and more!
The only drawback to creation is that the characters themselves have awkward hitboxes. In layman’s terms, this means they’re hit “differently” than the main cast of characters. This affects competitive play.
Therefore, tournament players will both not want to play custom characters and will likely avoid them online. This will also limit matchmaking for some players as a result.
SoulCalibur is a 3D fighting game using medieval weapons, such as swords, staffs, shields, and axes. It plays similarly to Tekken, only heavily utilizing range and set in a fantasy environment. You’ll fight against A.I. opponents of varying difficulty in all single-player modes.
Keep in mind some of these battles will end up being quite frustrating. This is due to the button-reading A.I. system that has gone from being challenging to plaguing the series for many years. We’ll use the new section to address the additions and changes in SoulCalibur VI’s battle system.
In SoulCalibur VI, the developers sought to return what made the original games prominent staples of fighting game history. They used an engine sped up similarly to SoulCalibur II, arguably the most popular entry in the series.
This rewards more aggressive play as well as feels smoother than the slower speeds of the recent three games. In addition, Guard Impacts also return in proper form, allowing players to parry with a quick button press instead of relying on meter.
Speaking of meter, the Critical Edge attacks return as well as the use of meter from SoulCalibur V. Players can use their Soul Gauge to unleash super attacks that deal heavy damage to opponents.
In addition, players can also utilize the Soul Charge to power up certain attacks and change their effects. For strategic and competitive players, this opens up a slew of new options as opposed to using a heavy-damage option.
Reversal Edge and Tutorials
There’s also a new Reversal Edge technique. For players being rushed down with mixed-up attacks (high, mid, low), players can use this all-block attack to absorb damage and strike back at the opponent. This will enter both players into a slow-motion phase that involves rock-paper-scissors.
Pick one of several options to beat out your opponent and turn the tide in battle. Players can also simply block or step away from the attack, resetting neutral so long as they are not themselves countered.
The level of options in this game is unparalleled compared to other games in the series. In addition, each character has a guide that delves into their strategies. They’re sorted from Beginner to Advanced, include several traits, and how to use their most powerful attacks.
These tutorials take only a few minutes to read through text-heavy and get to the point quickly, listing the commands as they describe their abilities. This is a fantastic teaching tool for novice players as well as a handy guidebook for experienced players.
Good and Bad
SoulCalibur VI brings back many of the best parts of the series. Fast-paced fighting engine, many familiar veterans, several new characters, and many new options for players to delve into. It includes a great, orchestral soundtrack, a working netcode, and a tutorial for players of all types. For players who enjoy the single-player experience, there is also a bevy of lore and unlockables for players to seek.
The worst parts of the game come from the dialogue bogging down the experience. The dialogue ends up being drab and unengaging. While it’s not as cringe-inducing as the story mode of SoulCalibur V, it feels fascinating at best and completely plain otherwise.
Fans looking to unlock Trophies will likely skip dialogue in Mission Mode, picking between the Good and Bad options which effect the ending. Fans of lore and the character stories, however, might be interested in staying tuned for all the scenes in Soul Chronicle.
I vastly prefer the short paragraphs of SoulCalibur I and II’s Mission Mode. They cut to the chase without bogging down the player with too much unnecessary drivel. This game tried to flesh out the single-player experience. Unfortunately, the writing for Libra of Soul feels unengaging and disconnecting to the player.
In addition, SoulCalibur III’s story mode narrated characters’ actions through brief paragraphs. It was even possible to go down branching paths. Once again, the short and simple writing left a more appealing impression than the long-winded scenes featured in Soul Chronicle mode.
SoulCalibur VI isn’t a mixed bag, though. It’s a great fighting game with its fans in mind. While its single player story might not be comparable to the likes of the recent Mortal Kombat titles, for instance, it’s at least much more serviceable than Street Fighter V.
Not perfect writing, yet could be worse. At least somewhat interactable, and with plenty of good fights. Thanks to the inclusion of Character Creation, you’ll meet many types of characters and fighting styles based on original designs.
That said, SoulCalibur VI is the best game in the series in over a decade. While IV was my personal favorite of the recent games, it also serves true that III and V were heavily flawed titles. Players have waited since SoulCalibur II (2003) to play a true, quality title in the series that could stack up.
While the single-player offerings could be a bit better, this game has a long time to develop its competitive play. Fighting gamers who want to play an optimal experience, this is the one to get into. SoulCalibur VI is out now for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC!
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