When the forces of darkness invade, it takes a hero to ward them off. When they're Wraiths that hail from the dark side of the Veil, it takes a more special kind of warrior to face them down. This is the premise of Soulstice, which sees players control a the dual force of the human Briar and the spirit of her sister, Lute, simultaneously. Prior to Sunday's PC Gaming Show, Shacknews was among the press outlets with an opportunity to take an early look at this adventure and get an idea of what awaits players.
The first thing to note about Soulstice is its dark fantasy setting, which establishes itself quickly in the game's opening chapter, where Briar and Lute row into the fog-filled capital of Ilden. It was once a flourishing city, but now lays engulfed in flames. It's indicated early that Briar and Lute are rookie Chimeras, sent there with their more experienced brethren to attempt to quell the ongoing onslaught from the dark forces of the Veil. The dynamic between the two characters is illustrated early on with Lute unsure of herself and overwhelmed by the severity of the situation, while Briar realizes what must be done and is ready to unsheathe her sword.
Combat appears inspired by combo-based, frenetic action games like Devil May Cry and Bayonetta, where Briar swings her Ashen Vindicator sword and Ashen Enforcer bow against broken forces. She'll find other weapons during her journey, some of which will work more effectively against certain enemies. Many of the minor enemies once existed as normal houmans, but were corrupted by the darkness behind the Veil. The basic enemies will help set the tone, but the mission is ultimately to find the higher demons at the root of the corruption.
While players mainly control Briar directly during combat, Lute will aid her throughout the game. As a wisp, Lute can attack from a distance, helping add to the player's combo, counter incoming attacks, and also helping exploit enemy weaknesses. Outside of combat, Lute will provide valuable exposition and give Briar someone to interact with over the course of the adventure.
As one might imagine, as a tandem, Briar and Lute can sometimes combine their abilities. Over time, the two characters will be able to combine their attacks in order to unleash more powerful abilities. Sometimes, they can even unleash a dramatic special attack, which starts with a cinematic flourish. Like most games of this type, characters can be upgraded over time through a skill tree, though players will have to determine whether to upgrade Briar's attacks and combos or Lute's more passive and defensive abilities. Choosing to upgrade either Lute or Briar will help steer players more towards a specific play style.
Expect to find the occasional platforming section and puzzle sequence to help break up battles, but make no mistake that Soulstice is an action game through and through. While much of what was on display is reminiscent of other games that have come and gone in the past, the novelty of having a second companion makes both the combat and the story much more interesting. We look forward to seeing what Soulstice can bring to this type of action game. Look for it to come to PC, PlayStation 5, and Xbox Series X|S on September 20.
This preview is based on a hands-off demo presented to members of the gaming press via Discord.