Souldiers PC Review

Souldiers is a highly refined metroidvania that may not do anything new, but it does everything with a fine coat of polish.

By LCLupus, Posted 01 Jul 2022

Souldiers is a 2D metroidvania game developed by Retro Forge, and for a debut game from a new studio, it’s a fantastic showing. You play as one of three classes of character that enters a Viking-inspired, pixel art world to explore and fight your way through. It is a game just for those who want something nice and long. So, it should keep you occupied for a few dozen hours, especially if you replay it as different classes.

Souldiers is an interesting narrative experience because you are not the “main character” for all intents and purposes. There are several named characters who have things they do, but you are ultimately a single member in the army of those named characters. The game starts with your death. You’re all dead now! And a Valkyrie has come to take you to the next life. Still, this afterlife world is seemingly just another regular world for you to fight in, so it probably isn’t a significant change to the protagonist, who doesn’t speak but who does have many interactions with those named characters as they achieve various victories on their way through the world.
 

Souldiers, PC, Review
 

This “souldier” character of yours, you’re a dead soldier so you’re a soul-dier… get it? Anyway, this souldier of yours is one of three classes: a scout, a caster and an archer. Each of them has an entirely different way of fighting. For instance, the scout is the standard warrior type. You have a sword and a shield and, as you play, you unlock a variety of new abilities and items. You get bombs for dealing high damage to enemies and to destroy certain obstacles, you gain various pieces of equipment and upgrade items, potions, and special abilities like a double jump, which is very standard fare for a metroidvania, and special ability overlays that imbue you with the power of something, like fire, which can be used to cut through certain walls.

Souldiers is a metroidvania with a lot of stuff in it. A lot of content. You will not rush through it particularly quickly unless you’re actually rushing for some reason. The story is rather minimal most of the time, as you only occasionally run into those named characters and then follow them somewhere. So, most of the time you’ll be exploring the large world and fighting the wide array of enemies on your own with no narrative distractions.
 

Souldiers, PC, Review
 

The combat is fluid and responsive. You have a dodge and block ability that can be integral to surviving the various enemies, and so, in a sense, there is some Dark Souls influence here too. Health can deplete quickly, and you’ll need to make your way to various checkpoints throughout the world to progress. In Dark Souls fashion, every checkpoint respawns all the enemies, but unlike Dark Souls, this does not replenish your potions, as they are a resource you need to buy. So, there are a few more traditional metroidvania aspects there. Although the respawning enemies after a checkpoint has also become a traditional metroidvania trope at this point.

In this sense, Souldiers is very standard. This does not mean it’s bad. The game does not do anything particularly new, but what it does do, it has shined to a fine mirror sheen. Not every game needs to innovate or do something particularly new. Not every metroidvania needs to be Hollow Knight, but Souldiers has managed to be something that is just good. Everything works.
 

Souldiers, PC, Review
 

The combat is smooth; the platforming is, for the most part, not finicky, which is aided by the fact that the character automatically grabs ledges, so you get rid of the usual platformer annoyances there. Souldiers is refined. Not only in the gameplay itself, but in the traversal. Many metroidvanias can get a little annoying when it comes to fast-travelling. Many metroidvanias insist on having a special diegetic means of traversal that makes sense within that world. For instance, Hollow Knight had a railway/tram system and Blast Brigade vs. the Evil Legion of Dr. Cread has a motorbike system, but Souldiers lets you fast travel from every checkpoint.

This massively speeds up the backtracking that can often occur in these games as new abilities unlock new ways to interact with the world and reach new places. This means that Souldiers doesn’t waste your time. It wants you to get to the good stuff and not dawdle about it. However, there is one minor issue in the fast travel system, and that is the fact that it seemingly doesn’t label checkpoint names on the map, but it does in the fast travel system. So, you know where you want to go, but you may not know the name of that particular area. And there isn’t an overview map to make it easier, just a list of location names. This is not great, and one of the only genuine critiques worth noting.
 

Souldiers, PC, Review
 

Another critique that appears to be quite prominent in Souldiers’s user reviews is the difficulty. Souldiers is not a challenging game. Now, it does have three difficulty settings, but it appears that the difficulty was nerfed post-launch and some people nowadays find it too easy. On the hardest difficulty, it is still quite a challenge, and so that’s great for those who want the challenge. But a mixture of modes making the game a lot easier for those who just want to enjoy the combat and exploration. But despite this being quite Dark Souls inspired like all metroidvanias seem to be nowadays, Souldiers is not Dark Souls levels of hard.

So, don’t go into this game if you’re looking for a hardcore challenge, but if you’re looking for something fun to play, with a great world, an extensive array of upgrades, items, and places to visit then this game is for you. It may also be good to note that it isn’t very often that a reviewer wants to keep playing a game after the review is out, but this game is definitely an exception. This particularly reviewer plans to keep playing the game despite finishing it! Take that as you will. Hopefully, it is understood as a strong recommendation for anyone interested in metroidvania games.
 

Souldiers, PC, Review
 

Lastly, it is also worth keeping in mind that the game has seemingly been review bombed to an extent on Steam because the patch that nerfed the difficulty appears to have divided the community. So, go into it knowing that Souldiers isn’t particularly difficult, but the rest should make up for that.
 

Justin van Huyssteen (@LC_Lupus)
Senior Editor, NoobFeed

comments powered by Disqus

NoobFeed

General Information

Souldiers

85/100

Platform(s): PC, PS5, XBSX, PS4, Xbox One, Switch
Publisher(s): Dear Villagers, Plug In Digital
Developer(s): Retro Forge
Genres: 2D Platformer
Themes: Role-Playing, Metroidvania, Shooter, Adventure
Release Date: 2022-02-21

View All

Popular Articles