Soulstice Interview: Reply Game Studios on Difficulty, Design, and Inspiration

by David Sanchez June 17, 2021 @ 6:00 am

Soulstice hack-and-slash gameplay.

Revealed during this year’s PC Gaming Show presentation, Soulstice from Reply Game Studios was quick to earn some E3 hype. The game’s trailer showcases the character action gameplay, with nods to titles like Bayonetta. It features a gothic look that’s sure to win over fans of dark fantasy themes, and it looks to provide both stylish combat and aesthetics.

The hook of Soulstice, however, is its dual-character action. You play as sisters Briar and Lute, who must work together to take down hordes of enemies, as well as massive monsters. We got a chance to ask Reply Game Studios a few questions via email regarding Soulstice, and the team was gracious enough to give us some cool details on the upcoming action title.

Soulstice Briar and Lute gameplay.

Exophase: Soulstice is a dual-character action game. Briar seems like the main character player, while Lute like a spirit character. Is Lute more of a passive companion, active companion, or some combination of both?

Reply Game Studios: Lute is a guardian angel of sorts. Her behavior is the result of a combination of player input and AI-driven reactions, based on what is happening on the battlefield. Lute becomes more and more effective during each fight, according to the players’ skill in mixing her abilities and Briar’s attacks. That said, both characters have their own progression system.

Exophase: Will there be a learning curve to controlling the two characters in Soulstice, or will it be pretty easy to get the hang of things?

RGS: We mean the combat system to be deep enough for hardcore gamers to have a nice challenge to overcome. On the other hand, weapons and abilities will be unlocked progressively so that the players will have the chance to get better and better as the combat system unfolds.

There will also be multiple difficulty levels to make sure that everybody can have a great time, even those who want to enjoy the story, world, and characters. In other words, Soulstice won’t be punishing for its own sake, but it will present a challenge to those who mean to take it on.

Soulstice exploration gameplay.

Exophase: The level designs in the Soulstice trailer looked pretty sizable. Will stages be fairly large throughout, or will there be tighter spaces with denser enemy placements?

RGS: Throughout the game, the players find themselves fighting in different types of “arenas,” and under different conditions. It also depends on the specific enemies that Briar and Lute face from time to time. When it comes to bosses, things obviously tend to get bigger, but there are many other different variables at play, too. There can also be ambushes, chases, and so on.

Moreover, the game will also feature environmental puzzles, as well as exploration sessions with secrets to discover and collectibles to gather.

Exophase: What are some of Reply Game Studios’ favorite games?

RGS: Masterpieces like Devil May Cry, Bayonetta, and NieR:Automata are among our favorite games, especially among the game designers that have been working on our own combat system. Many of us are also great fans of Dark Souls and its successors, which have had an impact on our work when it comes to art direction and atmosphere. Some of us are also die-hard classic RPG fans, which has helped with the development of the characters and the game lore in Soulstice.

Soulstice boss battle.

Exophase: The game’s title has “souls” in it, but this looks like a faster-paced, more twitch-action-driven type of game. Is there some Souls-like influence here in terms of either combat or world design?

RGS: The title is actually related to the game lore, but we understand that it comes quite natural to establish a link of sorts with Dark Souls and its “siblings.”

The grim tone that defines the Souls-like genre has clearly inspired us, but that’s not something that is strictly game-related, after all. It also comes from Japanese dark fantasy classics in anime and manga, like Berserk and Claymore. That said, Soulstice is an action game with stylish, fast-paced combat. We are working hard to add our own flavor to this mix, and we hope that the players will like it as well!

Soulstice level design.

A huge thank you to the team at Reply Game Studios for taking the time to answer these questions. Soulstice was definitely a nice surprise at this year’s E3, so it’ll be interesting seeing more of it down the line. The game is planned for a 2022 release on PS5, Xbox Series X|S, and PC.

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