A new contender has entered the arena! Soulcalibur VI, developed and published by Bandai Namco Entertainment, marks the triumphant return of the classic fighting game series after a six-year absence as swords and souls are forged in combat once again.
A Saga of Swords and Souls
In Soulcalibur VI the saga is retold, following the events which took place in the late 16th century. This tale tells of a mystical sword clad in immense power called Soul Edge, a blade that carries the legend and promise to grant the wielder the power to reshape the world. All those who would attempt to tame the living weapon would find their hope turn to terror as the dark reality of the blade’s true will destroys dreams of conquest or peace. The wielder’s heart is corrupted and turned into that of a soul harvesting wraith as the once noble knight Siegfried is reshaped into the azure abomination named Nightmare.
Still, there are those who would seek the blade’s power, but there are also those who know of the blade’s true nature and seek to destroy it. It is in this clash of wills across time that the rich lore of Soulcalibur comes to life and stands as a shining achievement of storytelling in the fighting game genre.
A Hero’s Quest
Soulcalibur VI presents the Soul Chronicle story mode. A traditional single player experience that explores the quests of each warrior in a series of mini-campaigns that consists of combat and storytelling as you follow the main trio of Kilik, Maxi, and Xianghua in their pursuit to find and defeat Nightmare.
In addition to Soul Chronicle, Soulcalibur VI features a second story mode called Libra of Souls which focuses on your created character, known as “The Conduit.” In a journey to test your might, you’ll encounter the full cast of Soulcalibur and even discover new characters. With many elements reminiscent of role playing games, a leveling system is introduced in which you can increase your created character’s strengths, which can be further enhanced by purchasing weapons and items.
Libra of Souls also introduces a morality system which can change the story’s ending and dialogue in unique encounters based on your actions, granting you a great degree of authorship in the story. With many quests available, you’ll journey across Europe and Asia to compete in beautifully crafted combat arenas as you complete a vast variety of missions. With delightfully difficult conditions to conquering each challenge, Soulcalibur VI presents the most fun bouts in which you can best your opponent by ring-out or battle in an arena as slippery as ice.
Continuing the convention of “easy to pick up, but difficult to master”, Soulcalibur remains one of the most accessible fighting games in the genre. It’s fun to learn and fun to play, and although it’s easy to button-mash your way to victory, more seasoned players show that the combat system is all but shallow.
Soulcalibur VI celebrates the return of the series’ unique weapon-based combat system which sets it apart from all other titles in the genre. With fighting mechanics like the 8-Way-Run, Soulcalibur breaks away from traditional combat to introduce a well-balanced fighting system of horizontal attacks, vertical attacks and kicks.
A New Caliber of Combat
New to the Soulcalibur series is a fighting mechanic called Reversal Edge, in which your character enters a defensive stance to parry and absorb several strikes before delivering their own. This clash initiates a rock/paper/scissors-like minigame to determine who gains the initiative of the next strike and dominates the momentum of the battle. At first it might seem like a game of chance that is purely luck-based, but it opens the realm of possibility to exploit a player’s unique attack patterns through a myriad of mind games.
Soulcalibur VI reintroduces the Soul Gauge, a super-move-meter built by successfully landing consecutive strikes. This allows your character to perform extraordinary feats like the Soul Charge, a fighting mechanic which can be used to boost the strength of your character for a short amount of time. It can also be used to release the Critical Edge, a supremely powerful signature attack that initiates a character-specific cutscene to claim victory in battle when all seems lost, making every character feel distinct and powerful.
A Gathering of Heroes
With a relatively small roster of only 20 playable characters, Soulcalibur VI focuses on quality above quantity as series favourites return more refined and ready for battle. Soulcalibur VI also welcomes the guest hero, Geralt of Rivia, of the hugely successful Witcher series. Respectfully represented, Geralt’s unique fighting style of twin swords and magical signs to ignite and stun, makes him feel right at home amongst the cast of characters.
From the title screen’s thunderous thrum to the last quest conquered, Soulcalibur VI restores the honor of the once waning fighting game series and claims its title as one of its best entries. With the innovative gameplay of the new Reversal Edge and Soul Charge fighting mechanics and the expansive single-player content explored in Soul Chronicle and Libra of Souls, Soulcalibur VI will provide hours of enjoyment. I recommend Soulcalibur VI to both newcomers and fans of the genre.