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I’ve always had an interest in Thirdverse’s games, but ultimately didn’t play them because they had no story. So, when I first heard about SOUL COVENANT, and it was going to be story driven and labelled ‘an anime inspired action game’ I was excited for the games release.

Release Date: April 18th 2024
Developer: Thirdverse
Publisher: Thirdverse
Price: US $49.99 / CAN $66.99 / €44,99 / £36.99
Reviewed On: PlayStaton VR2
* Code Provided For Review *

Life After Death?

In the future, the world is under control of an artificial intelligence know as Adam, attempting to assume to role of a god. In humanity’s last stronghold the Tokyo Ark enhanced humans known as Avatars engage in ferocious battles. With their main weapon, Scapegoat being crafted for the remains of fallen comrades, in and endless cycle in which someone’s death helps those who will keep fighting.

"I'll Make Sure To Pick Up Your Bones"

The above plot of the game screams out anime, but the way the story is told is all a bit of a mess. With every chapters sub-sections being made of a mission between two slices of story. Meaning they give you a little bit of story, take you to a mission and then back to story – a new sub-section then unlocks and then you rinse and repeat the same process.

Where the story is a great story, the way it is told can really drag you out of it. As this is sort of presented like a spruced up power point presentation, instead of using the great looking world and settings to progress the story to keep the flow going. Rather than getting dragged back to the lobby after your mission and watching this comic book style power point, which really breaks the immersion.

The aforementioned weapons are the one of the best thing the game has to offer, with you getting your hands on some awesome transforming Scapegoat’s made from the spines of your fallen comrades as the story progresses and more and more fall. All that come with their own transformation if holding them with both hands from becoming a scythe or splitting into a smaller duel-handed weapons. With the premise of broader strokes doing more damage, but unfortunately the combat really holds no physics or weight – meaning it just becomes waving your weapons fast and frantically, as although doing less damage, the amount of hits you can get in outweighs the broader strokes. Outside of the Scapegoat you take into battle, the enemies also drop monads you collect and this will charge a beam weapon that fires from your non-dominant and robotic arm.

To go long with the repetitive loop to how the story is built up, unfortunately this carries over into how the missions play out as well. You will play three rounds of objective based missions like kill all enemies in a time limit or defending something, and then the final part being going into the core and fighting a boss, with each of them needing scanning in order to find their weak spot to target.

As with the weapons the enemy design is great, but again these become repetitive due to limited enemy types you will encounter – outside of each of the bosses who all have different weak-spots. These do stand out with the weapons as the area that has likely had the more thought put into them, with the combat really being inline with Thirdverse’s other titles SWORDS of GARGANTUA and ALTAIR BREAKER.

The team have included an upgrade system, which will allow you use monads to increase your character or Scapegoat’s stats, and this is really the only reason some might find reason to return to max out their charater and each weapon. But, you would need to get into the game a lot to feel the reason to return.

A World Full of Voids

When it comes to world building and overall visuals of the game it’s a mixed bag as well, with some elements looking great and then rest looking a lot more low-poly texture-wise. The weapons, your hand and robot arm, the sky-boxes in the distance and the enemies all looking fantastic in quality and scale. This is then mixed with some very barren feeling arenas with cars, buses, tanks and crates spread about them in different places, maybe to give it feeling a being different, although essential the same. Then when outside of waggling your arms and concentrating on the enemies, you see these are all using the previously mentioned lower-poly textures. But, as an overall due to the amount of enemies and not really getting a break to fully concentrate on them, it makes it look very impressive.

What I found interesting on this one is, there really isn’t any environmental noises to help bring the arenas to life, but at the same time the game doesn’t really need them. As each battle be it the filler before the boss or the boss fight is backed by a fantastic soundtrack from Yasunori Mita (Chrono Trigger, Xeno series), which is all you need in an anime inspired game. Mixing this with your footsteps and the noises of swinging your weapon and you are set. The voice acting for both the Japanese and English audio is well done and solid, although some of the repeated lines while in action can start to grate on you a little bit – I’m looking at you Taiga.


The Verdict

SOUL COVENANT seemed to be a game that would be right down my alley – an anime inspired, story driven, hack and slash with RPG elements, what was there not to like? Unfortunately where it does show small flashes of its potential, it never reaches them in most areas. From a very interesting idea behind the story being told in breaks like a power point presentation, the great weapon idea and design being let down by the actual combat just being a frantic waggling of your arms, and the fantastic enemies not really being that varied. If you are not into games like visual novels, there wont be much of a saving grace to make you want to go back to SOUL COVENANT – as I feel, my liking for that genre is the only reason I managed to see the game through to completion.