Behind its sumptuous pixel art aesthetic, Souldiers is unbalanced

The videogame soldiers it has everything of a 2D Dark Souls. If it is charming thanks to his sublime artistic direction, it disappoints because of his very punitive character.

Another game inspired by Dark Souls, some might think… They’ll be right: for a little while not a week has gone by without mentioning FromSoftware’s cult saga. In the case of soldiers, the affiliation is totally assumed by the developers. On the Steam page, we can read in the introduction that it is a retro adventure articulated around ” intense battles reminiscent of the Souls series “. However, when FromSoftware RPGs are in 3D, soldiers it is fully 2D.

After a few hours spent in the universe of this title imagined by Retro Forge, I can say that yes, there is indeed a part of the essence of the Souls that contaminates the clashes. However, it seems that the developers have gone too far in their desire to punish players. Within soldiers, everything is designed to make you die. But Retro Forge has forgotten a crucial point for us to agree to immerse ourselves in such a masochistic experience: the notion of balance, the guarantee of avoiding frustration.

Hi boss. // Source: PS5 Screenshot

soldiers forgot to be balanced

Availability

soldiers It is available from June 2 on PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series S, Xbox Series X, Nintendo Switch and PC.

soldiers takes over various ingredients that make up the salt of Dark Souls, following crossover points that will allow you to rest (but will make certain defeated enemies respawn). It also relies on enemies that deal a lot of damage, even when playing a better protected soldier than a mage. We quickly understand that we will not be able to fight in any way, measuring our risks, managing parries well (careful, the resistance gauge breaks quickly) and using items wisely (particularly care potions). As if that weren’t enough, Retro Forge has thought of the different levels as labyrinths full of traps, some of them very well hidden. In fact, we do not count the game over.

This higher difficulty would not be a problem if the progression was encouraging. Within soldiers, our hero evolves very little. Not only do the enemies not award a lot of experience points, but as a bonus, each level gained doesn’t really increase your power in any palpable way. We’d like to feel a real increase as the challenge gets harder. We find ourselves rather with an accumulation of cruel portions to tear our hair out (we curse the creatures that attack from the air…). You better be warned from the start: soldiers It will demotivate more than one, although it is nevertheless impregnated with qualities, taking into account its visual dressing.

soldiers
A bit of humour. // Source: PS5 Screenshot

Sumptuous pixel art rendering

Visually, soldiers is a constant blessing: its pixel art rendering is exquisite. We could talk about a reference for this artistic direction designed to pay homage to the video games of the past. We feel that the studio hasn’t been light-handed on the level of detail, which rubs shoulders with sumptuous light effects, which make you want to gaze at the sets. At various times I wanted to lower the joystick to admire the almost overwhelming richness of the design work. For example, we appreciate the very small animals that inhabit environments, such as birds that fly and return to the rhythm of our steps. The kind of care that brings a lot of life to the screen, haloed by an intoxicating soundtrack.

The immense generosity shown by Retro Forge is also reflected in the very varied structure of the game, particularly in the way the huge dungeons are laid out. In fact, they are full of branches, to the point of becoming propitious places for exploration. About that, soldiers Willingly facing the Metroidvania side, pushing adventurers back to unlock once-closed passages. To do this, we recover powers that allow us to advance more and more. Thus, the fire orb can be used to light torches to see clearly or to burn a spider web hiding a chest. These powers are just as useful in combat, just to test the vulnerability of opponents.

soldiers
Have you seen the birdies? // Source: PS5 Screenshot

In addition to its colossal challenge (you can switch to easy mode, worst case), soldiers it is penalized by another flaw: its ergonomics, which can be painful due to certain clumsily assigned keys. Specifically, we do not understand why taking a door requires an upward stroke of the stick, when the stick in question, sensitive in nature, also directs the movements. As a result, he will often walk into a room and then walk out unintentionally. This ergonomic deficit is finally found in the menus, which are not clear enough. In short, behind the lovely dressing, there is a very unpleasant reality.

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