Aiming for an exit for June 2, 2022 on consoles and computerSouldiers is a Metroidvania imbued with RPG elements… It is a retro work developed by the Spanish studio RetroForge which has every intention of sending its player into a marvelous world where tough-skinned creatures live. It’s the least we can say, because the adventure is far from being a calm river. We trample, we are surprised, and above all, it is very difficult to escape death. Oh yes! The edited title Dear Villagers intends to make you live a journey as demanding as it is friendly and serene in appearance. And, without offering anything very new, it does not prevent us from arousing our interest, and even more. Why? This is what we, after having participated in a journey where discouragement is at the end of each path, are going to try to explain.
Once a warrior, always a warrior
The game opens with an assembly of soldiers. They are interrogative: where are they? What happened? The answer, they will soon have it. They are dead, or at least they no longer belong to their old world, as a Valkyrie communicated to them. However, their story does not end there. It is offered to them to continue it, to prolong it beyond their world of origin. A choice that your character will obviously have made. And it is then, through it, that you will be projected into a universe where the marvelous is commonplace. Anthropomorphic animals as well as other creatures will be waiting for you and not always for small talk.
How you deal with the shoal of enemies that will stand in front of you will simply depend on your character’s abilities and, above all, on his class. There are three distinct ones: the scout, specialized in melee attacks, the archer, king of ranged combat, as well as the mage who faces his opponents with a lot of spells. All have a well-defined primary weapon that won’t change as the journey unfolds – at least that’s the case for the scout we’ve spent most of our time with. On the other hand, as regards the secondary weapon, it is another story, you will be able to vary and choose what you will have acquired according to your desires or the situation. And, mainly, you will use them to go the distance. Which won’t be too much. We will come back to it.
As for the script, Souldiers has virtually none, there is no real story in the sense that there is no common thread. If we had to define the thing, it looks like it is only a succession of events, through which your hero will shine. What is not really embarrassing for this type of game having no claim in the experience it tends to offer. However, that some lament the lack of a real story, is quite conceivable. But, perhaps they will at least be reassured to survey a pleasant universe, well at least as far as an aesthetic level is concerned. And, Retro Forge may offer us something altogether classic, we are nonetheless seduced.
Beautiful but sometimes winded
It must also be said that Souldiers has a certain cachet, both visual and sound. Musically, perhaps, the content, on the whole, will not seem transcendent to you and the tones a little too familiar. And, that’s probably true. However, it works like thunder, even managing to have some effect on our little esgourdes, and above all, our minds. The pieces, sometimes heady, are in line with what is presented to us. For example, they will not fail to punctuate your most difficult confrontations, and therefore particularly, with the bosses. On the side of the artistic direction, it is very neat. The backgrounds are not lacking in detail and charm. In short, on this side, the magic really works.
However, as for the Switch (console used for this test) and its performance, a few points may be off-putting. For example, during your game, some slowdowns will occur and will probably cause some damage. Thus, it will be a platform that we will miss, to land right in a trap because of a jump made inaccurate. On the other hand, with regard to the fights, no very precise memory as to any discomfort. In itself, it is relatively not very serious, the adventure is absolutely not affected beyond measure. Nevertheless, it is, on a few occasions, suspended by rather long loading times. This tends to break the rhythm slightly and make the player impatient to resume the progress as quickly as possible, especially since death often awaits and, therefore, the wait does not can only increase.
However, it is quite possible that in the meantime, these main defects mentioned have been somewhat improved, an update having actually just appeared. In any case, apart from the save screen which has been modified (or rather added), the difference is not visible.
Struggle, lose yourself and trample, my brave
Defects certainly more visible on Switch, but which could also mark (to a lesser extent however) the other versions. Be that as it may, we repeat, this will in no way prevent the faithful of the Japanese brand from venturing into the lands of Terragaya… Well, almost. We must not forget one of the most important data: in terms of gaming experience, prepare to suffer. Souldiers, who wants to take the Souls-like path, seems to have won his bet. In any case, it arouses interest.
In appearance, the enemies do not pay mine. However, it would be a mistake not to consider them a minimum.
For our greatest pleasure or displeasure, it depends, the game will often mistreat us. The enemies you come across on your way will often cause you problems. But is it really difficult? We can not say, it all depends on the player’s ability. However, one thing is certain, it is demanding. It is only too little advisable to go ahead of your opponents with the firm attention to cross swords. Finally, not before having analyzed the situation and the pattern, otherwise he will piss you off. And, this is all the more true with the bosses, who will undoubtedly cause you great problems. Everything must therefore be calculated, measured. And, it will not be easy to progress without resorting to dodging, guarding, countering – which is one of the skills to be unlocked – or even adopting a fast combat style based on a variation between the two types. of attacks. Also, the ranged attack should not be neglected. However, it is limited since the different weapons you will have have a well-defined quantity, which can certainly be improved by acquiring various elements.
In addition, new abilities will be offered to you as you fight. Indeed, the more you engage in confrontations, the more you will have the chance to reach a higher level and learn new gestures or attacks. So, quite logically, Souldiers encourages clashes. And, it is better to be prepared not to succeed in all of them. You can then flee, but not too much anyway, because in this case your character will not evolve and will only be vulnerable. Your attack power and your ability to defend yourself greatly depend on it. For example, you can block the various attacks directed against you by opposing your shield, however after certain blows your guard breaks. And, the more you level up, the more your “stamina” grows. The life bar is not left out, and even if it only increases by a few points, we will absolutely not be choosy, especially since during the journey, new attacks that cannot be cumbersome will come to hit you. : poison, flame… To counter them, potions (the initial number of which is three) will be put on your side, as well as amulets which will certainly reduce the damage you will suffer.
The places Souldiers gives us to visit are as tortuous as possible
Metroidvania obliges, the dungeons that you will cross are labyrinthine at will and thus encourage exploration. We cannot deny it. Often you will find access blocked, often you will turn back until you have in your possession the essential element for your progress. This can be a key or new abilities that will help you reach a previously unreachable area. Unprecedented skills that offer new possibilities. Which can only be appreciated, because they bring some freshness and thus prevent the game from falling into redundancy. Nevertheless, there will be many back and forths. Unpleasant or not, it all depends on your affinity for this sort of thing. However, it will not be necessary to go back very far to reach your goal. You will be given the ability to teleport to an already frequented location. You just have to go to the location provided for this purpose, which also serves as a backup and checkpoint.
However, these checkpoints do not activate automatically and require action. You are free to do it or not, but knowing that their importance is not negligible, it is only too advisable to do so. Upon dying you will resume your adventure from this point. And, normally, you will visit it a lot of times, because as said before, it is not easy to progress in the merciless world of Souldiers. Certainly, the enemies will be a concern, but they will not be the only ones, far from it. Traps for the less convoluted are scattered to make you spend a bad quarter of an hour. How many times have we been surprised? Then, for their part, the phases of platforms have absolutely nothing to be ashamed of, because, in the “diabolical” genre, they defend themselves quite a bit. And, the somewhat tricky jumps to perform don’t really help.
If the experience is difficult, it is not horrible. It relies heavily on the effort/reward system. And, as much to tell you that once an obstacle with indisputable difficulty is crossed, one cannot help but feel a surge of satisfaction.
Besides that, the world we travel through is really pleasant, full of hiding places here and there, and the characters who evolve there too. Moreover, they are often vectors of humorous or light sequences. Some of them will sometimes help you during boss fights, in particular. However, their contribution is only relative. They are of little use and sometimes show erratic movement. You will therefore have to trust your abilities and, above all, your equipment. Healing potions to buy or find, armor to improve, etc. are all elements that you must take into account if you want to last long and compete with enemies as varied as they are tenacious.