Souldiers from Retro Forge and Dear Villagers is a 2D Metroidvania with action-RPG mechanics added into the mix. Check our Souldiers review!
Fight for your freedom in a sprawling fantasy world caught between the living and the fallen. Hone your skills in a retro epic featuring puzzle platforming, Metroidvania exploration, and crunchy soulslike combat.
Souldiers from Retro Forge and Dear Villagers begins with a solid hand-drawn cutscene that reminded me of how certain Japanese RPG opens up. After the cutscene, you’ll get a lengthy introduction explaining the current political conflict between the different nations of this world. Basically, Zarga’s nation is at war, and the sorcerer Arkzel proposes a war plan… that goes terribly wrong. A Valkyrie appears to save you and offers you a second chance. You’ll then land in the Valkyries’ world, very far from home. Your new goal is now to defeat an evil being. You’ll then be able to select your character class with which you’ll spend the game moving forward. Each class has different attacks and skills. For first-time players, I would recommend the Scout class as it is the most polyvalent one with his regular and stronger attack.
On the gameplay side, you can use basic attacks with the X button and your character’s special attack with the Triangle button. You can defend with the L1 button, but that drains your stamina bar, and if it reaches zero, then you’ll be vulnerable and unable to defend for a few moments. You will gain access to additional skills as you progress through the game, which will change how you approach new sections, attack new enemies, and take on bosses.
On the level design aspect, I thought that it felt a bit generic. The levels themselves are graphically pretty nice, but pressing forward felt generally linear, and it’ll be a while before there’s a fork in the path that offers some diversity. After a little while, you’ll notice some places that you can’t get through just yet and will have to keep a mental note about those passages, but that happens well after an hour and change of gaming.
At normal difficulty, I thought that the challenge was sometimes on the hard side – as is expected in a Soulslike game. Checkpoints are quite far from one another, and if (or when) you die in the dungeon, you’ll go back to the previous checkpoint, which might be as much a good while ago. Once you have activated a few checkpoints, you will geet to fast travel between them. The enemies are varied, and you will get to meet new ones in each section that you explore.
One of the aspects that I didn’t personally enjoy was how monsters take a lot of hits to defeat when you start your run. You’re going to have to level up a couple of times to be able to improve your stats to deal more damage. Their movement patterns are also a bit erratic, so you’re going to have to be on high alert if you want to survive. When you activate a checkpoint, you’ll recover your health, but that will also make enemies respawn, which, if you’re not used to how a Soullike game handles this, can overwhelm you.
If you’re looking for the Platinum trophy, you’ll be busy since there are 38 trophies to unlock, with 26 Bronze trophies, 7 Silver trophies, and 5 Gold trophies on your path towards the Platinum trophy. Some trophies are awarded for progressing through the game’s story as you defeat the bosses. There are trophies for beating the game by playing as each of the three classes. And then, there’s one trophy asking you to complete the entire game with each of the classes, another for completing the map at 100%, and one for the bestiary, so there’s a lot of work here to unlock the Platinum.
Souldiers is game that you’re going to love or hate. The level design didn’t feel that great, and the enemies are challenging at the start since they respawn as you use the checkpoints to heal your wounds. If you’re a fan of 2D Soulslike experiences, then there is a huge adventure to take on in this one with a dash of Metroidvania. Souldiers is out as a Cross-Buy game, so your $19.99 purchase will give you the PlayStation 4 version and the PlayStation 5 version.
This Souldiers review is based on a PlayStation copy provided by Dear Villagers.