[Review] Bleach: Soul Resurrección (PS3) – Oh-so-close to Bankai
Available on: PS3; Publisher: NIS America; Developer: Sony Computer Entertainment; Players: 1; Released: August 2, 2011; ESRB: Teen; Official Site
The world of Bleach has been translated into many different forms of games already. Its latest adventure is in the form of a hack and slasher, a genre it has not yet touched. It seems odd, considering how perfect the world of shinigami and arrancar fits. With its first entry being challenged by the likes of Sengoku Basara: SAMURAI HEROES and Dynasty Warriors: Gundam 3, Bleach: Soul Resurrección has its work cut out for it.
From the beginning, Bleach fans will already know they’re in for a treat. Using both anime-like cel-shaded visuals and authentic voice actors from the anime in both English in Japanese, this is the authentic Bleach experience. The game doesn’t just throw in fan service and call it a day though. The creators of Soul Resurrección do a great job of giving characters distinct attributes; despite a few who feel similar, most have some sort of unique flair to them. Take Uryu Ishida for instance, who is actually a quincy archer rather than a soul reaper: he is sluggish from close but delivers devastating combos with his arrows from afar. On the other hand, Byakuya Kuchiki’s melee attack’s distance can actually be controlled by waiting between button presses, which is a fair representation of his skill from the show. Rather than the system that most hack and slashers use where characters have canned combos requiring a sequence of specific button presses, Soul Resurrección applies a specific attack for each button depending on the context, which leads to more interesting possibilities and engaging gameplay.
Of course, no hack and slasher would be complete without its own set of super attacks for its characters. The ignition system both allows characters to power up for a period of time and execute a devastating attack at the end. Like general attacks, the ignition system also gives characters unique attributes. Rather than just becoming stronger, Ishida gets the ability to quickly replenish his supplies for special attacks, and Aizen Sousuke can surround himself with three defensive orbs instead of one at a time. It’s fun at first, but players will also quickly see how overpowered it is. Many times, the ignition attack can take off up to half of a boss’ life, effectively taking away any threat they have.
While a treat to play, the game’s greatest shortcoming ultimately lies in its brevity. Featuring only 14 levels, the campaign can be completed in several hours at the most, which will unlock all but three remaining characters. Although the short length is understandable, being that the game only covers the arrancar arc of the Bleach story, it’s still a disappointment. To further get their buck’s worth out of the game, players will likely play through the mission mode, which are a series of non-canon level that put restrictions like disabled ignition mode or dashing on players. Without any continuity or story linking these together though, there’s little motivation to complete them.
For most of the characters, who are either unused or used only once during story mode, mission mode will be the only place to level up and gain soul points to buy new skills. The leveling system is actually quite interesting compared to other hack and slashers. Rather than automatically acquiring new skills, characters are put on a grid and will acquire new skills or upgrade their attributes as they purchase new adjacent spots in a manner not totally unlike that of Final Fantasy X. In order to get precious soul points, players will have to dispatch enemies in quick sucession without getting tagged, otherwise the combo counter and soul point multiplier will disappear. The game actively rewards skilled players and encourages everyone to find ways to keep the combo counter from dropping, keeping it exciting throughout.
Fast paced, unique, and faithful to its source material, Soul Resurrección is definitely worth checking out for Bleach and hack and slash fans alike. However, the game is a constant tease, leaving players wanting more out of its campaign and being unable to compensate with a mission mode that is marked largely by the absence of a story. In the end, for how great the game is already, it just feels like it could have included more and that it is ultimately a preview of a possible future iteration – one that would encompass more of the Bleach universe and make for a game with more replay value.
Note: A retail copy was provided to Denkiphile for review purposes by the publisher.