If you’re looking for yet another brand new 2D Metroid-like, then Souldiers might be right up your alley. From exploring dangerous spaces while fighting monstrous foes to collecting new abilities in order to find the way forward, the game appears to tick those boxes and more. I got to take an early look at the game, which launches next month. I’m impressed by a lot of it, even if the Dark Souls-esque boss battles definitely weren’t something that left me particularly enthusiastic. For the purposes of this preview, I played through the game’s opening area, which lasted a couple of hours and ended in a miserable slog of a boss fight that the Git-Guddites may happily proclaim is too easy.
The plot in Souldiers deals with an army that finds itself transported to the land of Terragaya. Your leader makes a deal with a deity-like being and then vanishes somewhere, leaving you to pick your character. There are three classes to choose from. The scout is you standard fighter, but you also have the choice of an archer or mage. I picked the scout because I wanted to fight with melee and not ranged attacks. That may have been a mistake.
The scout can do all the things you’d expect from a game of this sort. Light and heavy attacks, a dodge roll with invincibility frames, a block, and a parry round out his arsenal. In the first area, you’ll acquire bombs and the ability to imbue your attacks with fire. The goal in this area is to find several green gems needed to open a door to the exit. For all intents and purposes, the whole army is stuck in a cave. It’s a pretty standard Metroid-like structure here. You go where the map isn’t filled in, look for a progression item, and then use it to move forward.
There’s another spider on the wall
This area in Souldiers is absolutely inundated with spiders to slaughter. Tiny spiders that take potshots at you, giant spiders that take some punishment, and even the boss is a spider-guy. Luckily, combat is tight and responsive, even if it isn’t at all complex. All aspects of the controls are just as accurate as I wanted, so playing the game is mostly a joy.
There are save points around that also let you teleport, but the game checkpoints too. But the checkpoints can screw you over. Once I got caught fighting a boss with barely any health at a checkpoint.
Once all the emeralds are found, the door opens and I had to fight the aforementioned spider-guy. He kills you in just a few hits (one of his most basic attacks takes away over a quarter of your health), and he requires a fair amount of memorization. As I said, it’s basically a Dark Souls boss, minus all the depth that comes with that series’ combat mechanics. I really enjoy navigation and exploration in Souldiers, but the thought of fighting the other bosses isn’t very appealing to me if I’m being honest.
Souldiers comes out in a little more than a month, so you’ll be able to hop in fairly soon. Unless you’re arachnophobic, at which point you’ll probably want to skip this one. I mostly had a good with what I’ve played as long as I wasn’t fighting a boss, so this is certainly a game to keep an eye out for. The gorgeous pixel art certainly doesn’t hurt. Unless you hate pixels, but the thought of that is nuts.