Pros:Fluid and addicting gameplay; interesting and unique NPCs.
Cons:Poor central plot; mediocre graphics; most enemies are pretty easy.
The Bottom Line: Soul Blazer is a mindless but fun hack-and-slash. The interesting NPCs help drive out the tedium. Maybe not for everyone, but most action-adventure fans should have fun.
Is a nostalgia bias present? Nope. I played Soul Blazer just a few years ago.
Background: Soul Blazer is the first of a pseudo-trilogy developed by Quintet and published by Enix -- the other two games being Illusion of Gaia and Terranigma. The term "pseudo-trilogy" refers to the fact that the stories of the games do not actually play off one another, e.g. you can play one game without having to play the other. However, the games borrow off of each other in so many fields - character names, story themes, sound effects, and even dialogue color - that the games have rightfully earned their title as a trilogy.
Graphics: The game is colorful and simplistic. The sprites can be a bit bland, but the background textures are nice enough. The game has some pretty nice looking effects in the foreground, such as heavy rain and falling lava. The snow – themed world has icicles in the foreground that are clear and magnificent to look at. Overall, the graphics are a bit bland, but do not detract from the experience.
Rating: 3 ½ Stars
Music: A lot of the tunes in the game are groovy little riffs meant to encourage the player to continue forward. Typical to hack-and-slash games, the music rarely moves emotions, but serves its purpose. The music is enjoyable and fitting, but I would be hard-pressed to recall any of the tunes after just a little time apart from the game.
Rating: 3 Stars
Story: The overall premise of the story is nothing special: a warrior is sent from the heavens to collect 6 stones of different hues to defeat an evil lord who has enslaved the world. There are some touching scenes, but the main plot is scarce and paced too far apart to give any real sort of lasting impact. The real investment story-wise will come with the player’s interaction with NPCs. The main hero can talk to just about anything -- people, animals, plants, furniture, etc. Being able to listen to the woes and whims of a plant or mouse creates some wonderfully unique scenarios. The NPCs of each village interact with each other and usually have fairly interesting dialogue, which gives some motivation for wanting to rescue them and help them out. A stronger central plot would have given the story some real enrichment, but the reliance on NPCs in separate villages makes the game feel too disconnected.
Rating: 3 Stars
Gameplay: This is where the heart of the game is ultimately found. The majority of the players time will be spent hacking and slashing continuous streams of monsters to death. Monsters spawn from spawn points, and each spawn point will produce a limited number of monsters. Once all of the monsters in a particular spawn point are defeated, the spawn point will allow the player to rescue an NPC or find a treasure chest. The treasure/NPC will give an item that allows the player to go farther, and the cycle continues. This is pretty much how the entire game will play out, save for a few boss fights. The character can change weapons and armor whenever he finds a new piece. Some weapons and armor give certain abilities – such as the ability to walk on hot tiles or damage certain enemies that would be otherwise immune – which gives the equipment more function, rather than just disregarding it once the stronger version comes along. The boss fights are varied and interesting. For the most part, the enemies are extremely easy. Example: If the player holds out his sword, many enemies will walk right into the sword, bringing death upon themselves. But, the gameplay is very fluid, and surprisingly addicting. If you find yourself not liking the gameplay, then you probably should skip out on this one.
Rating: 4 stars
Overall Rating: 3 ½ Stars - Rounded up for Epinions.
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