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“Soulblight is a top­down roguelike” game that puts the “RP” back into “RPG”. It strips down the level grind and the gear build, while putting an ingenious Taint System in its place. As you travel through the temple, you develop traits that must be acted upon to keep buffs and avoid debuffs. By the end of the game, you have enough traits to create a truly unique character.

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Traits

I got the chance to sit down with Jakub Lisiński at PAX West as he showed me a playthrough of Soulblight. As we started off, we had a set of traits to choose from, each with pros and cons. As a first round, I randomly picked the trait ‘Obsessive Compulsive’. From that point forward, whenever an even number of items were in the character’s inventory we received a buff. On the flip side, if the number was odd, a debuff was inflicted.

These come as a straight percentage buff and debuff to damage done. In order to hold onto this important swing in power, the compulsion to fulfill the trait became quite strong. Before long, we had to take on that character trait and make hard decisions of what to drop and pick up. The game was soon making me play in ways I never have before.

While advancing to new levels, new traits are picked up and every time, it’s a random selection to choose from. The number of odd quirks you have to adapt to for your character really makes you get into the needed mindset. By taking out leveling, and making getting new gear play a small role, it’s all about acting according to your character. Pick your traits carefully, because in Soulblight they mean far more than starting stats!

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Combat

Combat has some twists that make it interesting despite the simple design. As a top-down game, combat is done in 2D, with striking or sweeping weapons for penetrating or AOE attacks. The enemies use the same tactics, so attacking and avoiding can be pretty simple. What makes it interesting is that you have very little life, and once your health drops to zero you receive a debuff instead of outright dying.

Similar to debuff trait, the percentage drop of damage can make a pretty big impact later on. Combat soon starts to spiral out of control as you become too weak to kill your enemies. If you do manage to survive a few drops to zero HP, your wounds can be healed by appropriate items such as bandages. After too many close calls without fixing yourself up and permanent death is inevitable.

Final Thoughts

Soulblight is a fantastic game. Whenever a game makes you rethink that status quo and change up tactics, it is doing things right. Over the years, my judgement for aiming for tried and true methods for achieving victory has lacked, shortcuts may work in just about any game I come across but you just can’t do that in Soulblight. I can’t wait to get my hands on a copy of the game so that I can really get into the role of my character!

 

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