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Last month Gameforge finally brought Soulworker to western shores.  After getting an earlier glimpse of the action back at Gamescom 2017, I’d been waiting almost a year for an additional taste with this colorful MMO. Now, together with the equally animated Closers already unleashed around the masses, I logged into Soulworker to check out the competition.

For the uninitiated, Soulworker is surely an anime-inspired MMORPG which has, like a great number of other eastern titles, been imminently incoming for a lot too long. It combines the sort of hyper-stylized aesthetic and flashy combat systems making it uniquely attracting those of us whose wallets are firmly wedged under the heal of Bandai Namco’s latest console license. Thankfully for me personally, buying Soulworker doesn’t should interfere with my extraneous spending for the latest Sword Art tie-in or any other Evangelion model. Gameforge’s latest game is usually a free to try out affair meaning giving it a go should simply need a time investment.

Logging into Soulworker, it can be apparent that the aesthetic is just one of its most prominent features. The heavily stylized, cell shaded graphics are brimming with bright colors and bold lines. This might 't be any Studio Trigger masterpiece, however the population of Soulworker may be ripped completely from the cells of your top-tier anime studio. Everything from the playable characters, the corgis that flip and beg for attention, on the enormous boss battles that await are an extraordinary delight. Soulworker’s deeply apocalyptic narrative is placed against a few of the flashiest animations that I have noticed, which outrageous style just calls over to every inch of my inner Otaku.

The Same Old Story

It isn't just the graphics that require a cue from eastern animation. Jumping into Soulworker, it is evident the overarching narrative will be fairly derivative affair. Like countless manga or anime, farmville revolves around a adult who suffers an exceptionally personal tragedy. Falling in to a coma, you awake years later to some world decimated by war. Unidentified monsters lay waste to everything around them and also you quickly emerge as being a reluctant hero, a Soulworker. These unwitting teens can, in typical Shonen fashion, manifest an inner power. This allows protagonists to execute incredible feats and places a unprecedented burden upon their shoulders. It is really a common story arc among this method of media and follows our reluctant hero since they struggle to find their put in place an unfamiliar world.

Anybody used to your seasonal slog through Japanese periodicals will likely be familiar using this trope and such as soap operas that drown morning TV, it can be not something which is inherently problematic. Effective writers can craft characters which are both likable and engaging. In a move to make the experience’s story more emotionally relevant, Lion games have limited items to four playable characters. Haru, Erwin, Stella, and Lily would be the four teenagers that continue to players if they first signing in.

Character Tropes

Each in the four playable characters in Soulworker has their own personal backstory and journey. It is really a pity that, although their journey is in fact reasonably well written, it can be very text heavy. In an age where cut scene narratives and anime voice actors are commonplace, this leans a quite heavily on quest text to produce a narrative that matches the genre tropes without feeling just like a supplementary bolt on to the action. I did also find the quality of translation is very much pretty high. Dialogue generally is practical and characters are engaging, with a particular personality that usually overcome the walls of text.

Each with the main characters also represents four very distinct forms of play, from Haru’s fairly intuitive swordplay to Stella’s more complicated musical accompaniment. Each of those four features a refreshing and unique appeal, but character customization, about the other hand, feels extremely restrictive. While a broader design decision binds many game systems to every hero, it's abundantly clear which the number of customization options is disappointing. As I noted inside my initial impressions, games like Black Desert Online allow players to control individual strands of hair, choosing from numerous potential permutations. Soulworker, however, offers a handful of preconfigured hairstyles, eye colors, skin shades. This is often a disappointingly lackluster introduction with a game that frankly deserves a better opening salvo to hook players.

Content Delivery

If the smoothness customization is off-putting, I would urge someone to push on. It won’t be long and soon you bump into yourself in Rocco Town, the very first in a group of areas that comprise Soulworker. Like En Masse’s Closers, Soulworker divides content in a series of player hubs, adequately populated by the many requisite NPCs and brimming with relevant quests to help you get started. Rather than make a massive sprawling world to deal with Soulworker’s story, Lion Games segregates content to a series of dungeons that surround player hubs. This immediately draws comparisons to Closers and it truly is not entirely unfair. Soulworker isn't the vast open world MMORPG that any of us have come to expect from AAA releases, but nearer into a massive online dungeon crawler.

Coupled with all the corners cut in the type creation, this may very well be a low reach means to fix producing an immense open world experience. In reality, it includes plenty of PvE content that players can certainly consume. Dungeons appear in three modes, Normal, Hard, and Manic. Each of the play host with a colorful assortment of trash mobs and boss encounters that be capable of feel constantly unique. Whether it is really a construction yard filled with stoic golems or possibly a suburban street invaded by evil clowns, none of the instances are particularly egregious regarding difficulty. Neither, would they require a ridiculous time investment. If you have only 15 minutes, it is possible to still log into Soulworker, achieve something, grab some loot, and proceed.

Cutting Through

Stepping to a dungeon and engaging in combat is when Soulworker really sets out to shine.  The hyper-stylized aesthetic and interesting enemy encounters come a second to the action’s flashy moves and fantastic combat. Characters traverse the earth using a rather standard WASD movement system, which has a primary and secondary attack bound for the mouse buttons. Attacks are augmented by a number of skills that decorate the bottom in the screen, using this limited set of skills bound with a series of numeric keys. This all might sound somewhat formulaic, soon you start to slice through enemies for the initial time. Soulworker blends an engaged combo system and free-form combat to create the type of unrelenting aggression that made Blade & Soul this kind of breath of outside when I first experienced it. Skills might be stacked together to create a compilation of effective and flexible combos, allowing players to construct their own particular design of play. Combat simply flows. It is dynamic and engaging, decorated using the sort of flashy effects which make you feel as an utter bad-ass.

Getting There & Back Again

Progression in Soulworker, unfortunately, involves slicing via a great deal of the same enemies. While individual dungeons are refreshingly different challenges, it can be necessary to grind the same encounters. A relatively shallow leveling curve will leave players decidedly under-prepared when following a main quest line. Coupled having a level gating system, this forces players to chase the storyline content, time for dungeons top grind out experience. This is somewhat disappointing and counters an otherwise solid progression system.

As you would expect, leveling in Soulworker empowers players using a level of power creep. Specifically, each level unlocks skill points. These skill points are accustomed to unlock and max out a number of passive and active skills. Coupled with all the combo system, thus giving players great flexibility within the way they play, even within each character’s obvious role.

This is bolstered by one among Soulworker’s more unique progression traits, the Akasha cards. Generally, and not always, collected as content rewards, prepaid cards manifest a trait of your NPC, object, or monster in Soulworker. Increased retaliation, a tiny chance of HP regeneration, or increased attack are a few of the bonuses that slotting Akasha cards can supply. With only five available card slots, this bunch of traits, much like the sport’s currently established title system, gives players the choice to nudge overall playstyle in a very specific direction.

It's All About the Fashion

Player stats are simply just as important in defining a playstyle through this game and are generally bound to gear. Gear progression systems usually do not obfuscate anything unnecessarily. Items could be looted, crafted, salvaged, upgraded, and enhanced in the intuitive manner that is likely to keep out in the way of the experience’s real reward system, fashion. Outside on the crazy boss designs and great combat systems, I find myself coming back to Soulworker with the fashion. Achievements, dungeon loot, daily quests, signing in rewards, and zone progression all provide rewards that allow you to definitely get your hands several new clothes. Gear may be all about stats, however the blueprints that craft new clothing are considerably more desirable. Crafting isn't the only way to obtain a new appearance, playing with all instances, it truly is one with the major incentives to look grind another dungeon.

This is one kind of the few strategies to making your personal character unique one of several gaggle of Haru and is truly one of the primary reasons I find myself running one more dungeon. Dozens of cool outfits and accessories fill the crafting station. Although the level of underwear being offered raises lots of questions.  It has even successfully parted me and my true to life cash, to my shame.

Actually, It's All About the Money

Being a absolve to play game, Soulworker, quite reasonably, includes a cash shop system. The more weak-willed fashionistas will more than likely dabble in at the very least a little spending, and also a healthy number of cosmetic items, buffs, revive tokens, and VIP packages are stocked here. To its credit, Soulworker usually have no hint of loot box gouging, which can be far too common. While I will often have some umbrage together with the cost of certain items, the purchase price is clear certainly nothing here is game-breaking. VIP packages even show to be an extremely useful combination of perks, wrapping instant teleportation, loot enhancements, and increased gold drops  within an enhanced experience booster. Purchasing VIP packages does, however, bring an anomaly of Gameforge’s cash shop into sharp focus. An obvious imbalance between price of specific items, like VIP packages, along with the denominations of Soulcash on sale appears to exist. A amount of high-value items seem like priced within a manner that either entices players to trade up, and purchase a large stash of in game currency, or squeeze credit card away.

The monetization model in Soulworker is much from game breaking, just oddly misaligned. The high valuation on items as well as the denomination of funding shop currencies means players looking to support the experience may end up feeling discouraged from parting using their cash. It’s an unusual setup, but one that can readily be tweaked after a while to reach a much more reasonable balance.

Heart & Soul

On balance, my own time with Soulworker continues to be one in the most enjoyable experiences I’ve had on this type of game. It presents a rather standard instanced experience and wraps it in absolutely gorgeous graphics. From the moment a typically melancholy soundtrack drifts on the opening splash screen for the dungeons loaded with ridiculous monsters, the bingo knows its audience and splashes each of the relevant tropes all in the screen. Battle builds on this further. Combat looks incredible as well as the fluid movement turns the trudge through dungeons in a deadly dance. When Gameforge does finally deploy PvP, housing, and take care of tweaking the experience’s numbers, they is going to be onto a sure thing. If you want to swing a six-foot sword using your enemies then Soulworker is otherwise engaged now via Gameforge and Steam.