Ever since I played Soul Calibur 2 as a child, I have been enthralled by the series’ signature 8-Way run movement system. This allows for full 3D movement instead of the traditional 2D movement options found in most other fighting games. Soul Calibur also boasts a surprising historical setting though it is historical fiction as throughout each game, players will visit real-world locations like India, China, and Japan, in their quest to claim or destroy the evil sword Soul Edge. Soul Calibur VI is essentially a reboot of the series and is set around the time of Soul Calibur, offering more of what veterans of the series already know and love, while easily allowing newcomers to jump into the game without needing to know a ton of lore surrounding the characters and overall plot of previous Soul Calibur titles.
Spiritual Content: SCVI contains a lot of scenes in its dual story modes with churches, cathedrals, monks, wizards, etc. That being said, nothing of God or the devil is overtly stated or implied, though characters do mention sending others to hell. Players can also create both angel and demon characters. So it would seem that the concept of heaven and hell and damnation of souls exists within the game’s universe.
For the most part, these gods and/or goddesses mentioned are based on mythological deities. For example, longtime series mainstay, Sophitia is from Greece, and mentions that she will pray to the gods for a specific character’s needs at one point in the story. There is also the option for a holy/evil alignment in character creation and in the Libra of Souls story mode.
Violence: With this being a fighting game, violence is a given. However, there are no scars, scratches, blood spatters, or anything that would otherwise resemble a wound. These only appear if players create those features for their fighter in the Create a Soul mode.
Language: In my time with the SCVI, I do not recall any foul language with the exception of the word “d@*n”. There is absolutely no use of the “f” word or “sh*&” to be found in this game
Sexual Themes: As this is a Bandai Namco game, much like with the Dead or Alive series, Soul Calibur has always featured an abundance of unrealistically proportioned women in its roster, particularly in the bust line. This is particularly compounded by the included “breast slider” in the Create a Soul mode. While the extent that players go to make use of this feature is entirely dependent on who is playing the game, I feel it worth mentioning for those who prefer to avoid sexual content of any kind in their games.
Additionally, as fights drag on and character’s continue to take damage, parts of their gear will be destroyed and/or knocked off. This will often leave the character in nothing but their underwear—including men like Mitsurugi, who wear Fundoshi. Also, some very creative players have already managed to make phalluses for their fighter out of the many included props in Create a Soul. The age-old saying, “Game experience may change during online play,” certainly comes to mind here.
Upon first hearing that Bandai-Namco was preparing to release a new Soul Calibur title after SCV severelyunderwhelmed, I was cautiously optimistic. From the get-go, Bamco touted the new Create a Soul mode and its 16 different races that could be used to make fighters for SCVI. While this was an exciting announcement for players like myself who primarily enjoy the series’ later games for the ability to create impressive guest characters, most were concerned about what other areas of the game would suffer due to a renewed focus on character creation.
I am happy to report that Soul Calibur VI is easily the best entry in the series to date, though it is not without its faults. With a guest character that actually makes sense (i.e. not Darth Vader, Yoda, Spawn, or Heihachi), two separate and distinctly different story modes, a small but expertly curated character roster, and many tweaks and improvements to the series’ excellent gameplay, fans and newcomers alike are guaranteed to find something here that tickles their fancy.
For RPG fans and those who enjoy a good story, there is the Libra of Souls mode. There, players can create their own fighter from scratch using a special version of Create a Soul that is exclusive to Libra of Souls. This means that, while there are about a dozen save slots for this mode, any characters created in Libra of Souls can only be used in that mode. Meanwhile, characters created outside of Libra of Souls can be used in any other part of the game, with the exception of Chronicle of Souls, the other story mode. The core gameplay for Libra of Souls features a large map filled with quest icons. Players can choose from training, to learn the basics of the game, story quests (denoted by a red circle), or side quests (denoted by a green circle). Once players reach a specific mission they can choose to spend any earned gold at a shop, mercenary recruitment center, or they can pay to explore any greyed-out missions that have not yet been unlocked on the map.
While traveling on these expeditions, players may be attacked by a random opponent. If another player has uploaded their customer character to the game’s servers then players may encounter that character instead. Libra of Souls even features a mercenaries mechanic which allows players to hire characters created by another player to complete missions on their behalf. However, if a player assigns a mercenary to a mission and the mercenary loses the fight then the player will have to complete that fight themselves.
Story quests advance the overall plot of Libra of Souls which features the player’s custom fighter being awoken by series mainstay Zasalamel who warns them that they must travel the land destroying astral fissures or else the corruption inside them will ultimately kill them. This is standard, fantasy type stuff here and while not the most creative story, it is nice to have a separate story specifically designed for custom characters. On top of the main story, Libra of Souls also features story beats and character appearances that overlap with the timeline of events in the main story mode, Chronicle of Souls.
Both modes boast a bevy of unlockables with Chronicle of Souls being heavy on museum content and, thus far, only one unlockable fighter. Museum content consists of character backstories, concept art, and other interesting bits of Soul Calibur lore. The main difference here is that Chronicle of Souls plays like a typical fighting game story mode.
In Chronicle of Souls, players start off with the main character of the series, Kilik, and will eventually control all of the major heroes on their journey to defeat Nightmare/Inferno and destroy Soul Edge once and for all. Upon completion of the main storyline, players can then access each character’s individual story, including that of day one DLC fighter, Tira. While both story modes feature the ability to earn currency, gold is mainly used in Libra of Souls while soul points (SP) are used in Chronicle of Souls. SP is used to unlock certain items in Create a Soul or content in museum mode. Likewise, players can use gold to purchase additional weapons, food, and hire mercenaries in Libra of Souls. There is even a system in Libra of Souls that allows players to convert earned gold into SP that can be used for purchases in other modes.
Though both story modes combined contain about 20+ hours of content, I was disappointed by the lack of unlockable characters and weapons. It seems that all characters only have about seven weapons and they are available right from the get-go. This is a far cry from previous entries in the series where players could unlock various weapons over the course of the story including multiple versions of Soul Edge/Soul Calibur, and even some silly weapons like boat oars. Another problem with the game is that Bandai-Namco was operating on a low budget as this is supposed to be the last Soul Calibur game unless it performs well commercially. While that remains to be seen, it is evident that Bamco prioritized balancing the gameplay and updating the CAS mode over adding in cutscenes and voice acting for Libra of Souls. However, as CAS was my main reason for playing the game, I was OK with this for the most part.
There are only about four cutscenes total in the entirety of SCVI. Most of them are found in the main Chronicle of Souls story which features Kilik and friends’ journey to destroy Soul Edge. The rest of the scenes look like oil paintings with voice-overs for key characters. Libra of Souls only features voice acting during the introductory chapter and has a completely different, painted look to most of its story scenes. Despite this bare-bones method of storytelling, I still found some of the character arcs compelling and still enjoyed the story overall, so Bamco definitely still put the effort in here even if they didn’t have the budget to make it truly spectacular.
This time around Geralt, the witcher, is the series’ guest fighter and his fighting style is even able to be used with customer characters. This leads us to talk about the Create a Souls mode. Separate from the character creator in Libra of Souls, CAS contains the option to create a character from scratch or modify existing fighters. Players can even search for and download another player’s creations. There are 100 slots in total for custom characters and 16 distinct races, each with their own limitations for equipment and gear as well as exclusive customization options like tails, rabbit ears, or wings. Most of the options for creations have been expanded, like individual sliders for biceps, triceps, pecs, hips, breasts, stomach, and other parts of the body. Meanwhile, there is significantly less armor and equipment than in previous entries. Players can be as creative as they want and the game has already seen some crazy creations from this mode, including Bomberman and Magikarp. There is even an entire Reddit thread dedicated to Soul Calibur custom characters. Custom characters made in this mode can even be used online, which is a great way for players to show off their customer characters and maybe rack up a win or two as well.
In all, SCVI includes 20 main roster fighters, with one unlockable fighter (excluding DLC for fan favorite, Tira). Among this roster are two brand new fighters, Gr0h, a mysterious warrior who appears in both story modes to both antagonize and aide the player depending on his mission at the time and Azwell, a warrior mage with a very meme-able name. Both characters bring something new to the game as Gr0h wields a staff/sword combo, much like the weapon used by the villain in Hellboy 2: The Golden Army. Meanwhile, Azwell wields magic in a way similar to Dr. Strange or Baron Mordo in that he can conjure physical weapons out of thin air. This gives him one of the craziest fighting styles in the game next to Voldo’s disturbing pelvic thrusts and Yoshimitsu’s sword hopping.
The fighting system also boasts some new additions in the form of Reversal Edges and Critical Edges. While some argue that this slows down the overall pace of fights, the Reversal Edge works like the Wager Clashes in Injustice 2 as pressing one of the three attack buttons acts like a game of rock-paper-scissors to determine who will receive damage and who will negate damage at the end of the clash. Critical Edges act as a super move for each character but can also be used as a Soul Charge allowing players to consume one soul gauge during battle for slightly increased speed and damage. This brings a host of new strategies to the table in fights.
I strongly recommend Soul Calibur VI to longtime fans of the series and to newcomers alike as the game truly offers something for everyone. RPG gamers will enjoy the constant tweaking and customizing of their fighter and his/her stats in Libra of Souls. Meanwhile, fans of traditional fighting game stories will find a lot to love with Chronicle of Souls. For me, the main attraction was Create a Soul and is where I spent the bulk of my time, though players will have to venture into the other modes to earn currency to unlock the other customization items. Soul Calibur has always been unique with its 8-Way Movement system and is hands-down the best fighter of it’s kind. If you’re a fan of fighting games at all, then play this game. You won’t regret it.
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