The return of an iconic game is always an occasion to cheer if you are a fan. More so when it is a classic with almost two decades of history, last seen on past-generation consoles and reworked on the well-regarded Unreal Engine, a game development platform used in many recent fighting genre titles.
Soulcalibur VI is the latest instalment of the Soulcalibur series, which is by Japanese video game developer and publisher Bandai Namco Entertainment, and it has plenty to offer.
The game has two main single-player story modes. The first, Soul Chronicle, is a story-driven campaign involving playable characters from the roster, comprising a main plot and branching episodes. There are 13 encounters in the main plot, linked by dialogues in the form of images, text and animation. The branching episodes, which offer about three hours of playing time, expand on the main plot by casting another perspective on each of the playable characters.
The second single-player story mode, Libra of Souls, is larger in scope. Here, you have to create a custom character based on 16 pre-set personalities. Your avatar will explore waypoints on a map to pursue various missions and face random encounters. The campaign centres on an extension of the calamitous events in Soul Chronicle. Expect to be occupied with over 10 hours of adventure in this pursuit.
Unlocked collectibles are stored and can be reviewed in the game's Museum and some are sure to invoke deep nostalgia in long-time fans.
Apart from its mainstay characters, Soulcalibur has built a reputation around having guest fighters join the roster, such as characters from Star Wars and Assassin's Creed. In Soulcalibur VI, there is Geralt from The Witcher game, alongside new members Azwell and Groh. Fan-favourite 2B from Nier Automata was also announced recently as downloadable content.
Soulcalibur's weaponised combat is what sets it apart from other fighting games. The characters' moves are based on the weapon they wield, with the skill levels ranging from novice to expert. There are also super moves such as Critical Edge, Guard Impact, Lethal Hits and Soul Charge that players can execute to turn the tide in each match.
This game introduces Reversal Edge, a new mechanic that allows players to enter into a rock-paper-scissors-style wager to predict and counter an opponent's move. The moves and action have flashy effects, making them a marvel to watch.
It may take a while to master the moves, but with adequate practice in the various game modes, you will become proficient enough online against skilful players.
Another attraction of this game is its entertainment value. The robust character creation mode has seen fans putting together almost true-to-form characters from various pop-culture references, including some bizarre versions. You can expect more of such interesting ideas with the Season Pass, which adds four characters and over 100 customisation parts.
Far from being forgotten, SoulCaliber has been rejuvenated by this latest instalment, which hopefully fuels the franchise with more good years ahead.
Verdict: Soulcalibur VI is a well-planned revival that will fascinate new and veteran players.
Price: From S$79.90 (PC; Xbox One; PS4, version tested)
Mohd Nizam is a freelance writer