The Soul Calibur series has been on a long Hiatus since the catastrophe that was Soul Calibur V. A six-year hiatus to be exact. So when Bandai Namco announced the next instalment at The Game Awards back in 2017. Everyone went wild. Even before there was any gameplay shown one phrase uttered by a developer ignited everyone and hyped them up. Does your soul still burn?
The story of Soul Calibur is the same as it always is. You follow a character or a few characters and you hunt for soul edge. In this one, you are back playing as Kilik, who has been infected by an evil seed that will slowly drive him insane and corrupt his soul. There are no animated or CGI cutscenes, instead, they use art panels and simply show the dialogue between the characters. This is a bit underwhelming as you don’t see anything happening nor do you get to get any cool art style cutscenes. This leads to the story being a bit of a drag and a slog to get through.
Aside from the main story of the game you also have the Libra of soul; a story that revolves around your created character. In this, the story is still told with art panels however you also get the opportunity to Choose your characters actions and alignment. This adds some participation and allows you to really feel like you are affecting the story and not a passive participant. You can either be good, neutral, or evil and your actions will determine who you meet and how things play out. This is similar to the system used back in Soul Calibur 3 when you could decide whether to pursue or fight someone or not. While this may not be a part of the actual story this one really resonated with me and was far more enjoyable than the main plot.
The gameplay of Soul Calibur VI is phenomenal. From the movement to the speed of combat there have been many improvements. Also You, no longer have to spend meter to perform guard impacts as you did in V. One of the most integral and important mechanics in the Soul Calibur series can now be performed whenever you like. The speed and maneuverability of the characters are also improved. They no longer feel awkward and slow. Unless you are playing with Astaroth, cause man that dude is weird. Each character feels better than ever only maybe being outdone by Soul Calibur II, but that game is a classic and has no equal.
Each move and attack feels precise and impactful. The characters movements are fluid and easy to discern. Which is very important in this game. By reading your opponents movements and knowing what their attacks look like you are able to retaliate and effectively use guard impacts. Aside from that, there are many ways to maneuver and get in on your opponent. Each character has specific traits and mobility which makes them fit different playstyles and really gives the game a diverse cast.
A new addition to the game is a mechanic called reversal edge. With this mechanic you can charge up and attack that upon hit will force the opponent into a rock paper scissors sort of situation. You get meter for initiating these types of attacks and if you win the clash you do a decent amount of damage. The amount of meter gained is a bit absurd and lead to someone being able to perform a few specials in one round. This attack will also parry a certain number of hits from your opponent making it really good if they aren’t paying attention.
The second mechanic they added is soul charge. This is a mode that costs one bar to use and gives your character different attributes. They gain access to different moves, deal more damage, and can guard break easier. Each soul charge is different as can turn the tide of the match. A great addition and one that seems a bit like the rage mode in Tekken, another fighting game developed by Bandai-Namco.
Graphics & Sound
The score in Soul Calibur is fantastic as always. Its chorus filled soundtrack gets you pumped up for battle. Even when you are simply going through the menus you feel epic and as if you have an orchestra following you around. Each hit, stab, and throw sound painful and make you want to avoid it happening again at all cost. The game really nails the soundboard and this is a soundtrack I can see myself listening to while not playing the game.
The graphics are great as well. While there hasn’t been much of a graphical overhaul from V the characters still look spectacular. Each of them feels more alive than ever. Not only that but they stay in constant motion. Whether it is a slight sway, or in the female characters case a……bounce while in motion. Each character’s movement in any of the directions is clean and concise. There are many animations for each character and none look bad. There does, however, seem to be a clipping issue with created characters. This is understandable as when you throw large objects onto characters they will still complete their animations and their standing animations may overlap with accessories. There is also a weird issue with Xianghuas sword. While she is standing still in her win screen or on the character select screen It will just be vibrating. This is odd as it doesn’t happen with any other character, it happens only when she is standing still.
The online is fantastic. When you have a good connection things are snappy and there is very little delay. You can find matches rather quickly and really fine tune your search criteria in order to avoid matches that will be choppy and delayed. If you’re not into playing competitively or just don’t want to play ranked you can create rooms to play with friends or randoms. These casual rooms can also be fine tuned so that you avoid those same issues you would find in ranked. Conversely, you can also make the room private so its invite only. This allows you to simply play against a few friends and not have randoms jump in.
One issue with online is that you can take your created character into ranked matches. This really messes with people who are trying to go up the leaderboards and allows for trolls to really screw with people. I have seen many images online about people making giant cubes or tomatoes and you have to guess where the hitbox is. Even then if you create a character that isn’t standard size it could affect hitboxes and combos that usually would work are dropped because of the difference. This makes it a guessing game and can lead to frustration which can run off players from the community. While I don’t have an issue with this in casual play since it doesn’t affect rankings being able to do this in ranked is quite concerning and something that needs to be addressed.
Overall Soul Calibur VI is a great instalment in the franchise and a return to the glory that it formerly had. While there were a few missteps with IV and V this one is shaping up to be an impressive fighter. There are many things that I had to leave out for brevity however if you had skipped the last few instalments then this is a great jumping back on point. They not only have brought back beloved characters, minus Yun Seong still waiting on him, but have retooled and polished the mechanics. If you are a fan of fighting games then this is one that you will not want to miss.
Soul Calibur VI
- Fast paced
- Deep mechanics
- Diverse characters
- Character customization
- Reversal edge is a bit too good
- Created characters can be used in ranked
- Created characters have different hitboxes
- Some characters are unbalanced