Reviewed on Sony PlayStation 4Also available on Sony PlayStation 4, Microsoft Xbox One, PC and Nintendo Switch
When I found out that someone was making a game akin to one of my favourite Super Nintendo games, I was overjoyed. ActRaiser, was well ahead of its time, was very unique and at the time, I enjoyed it very much. Back in the internet-less days of 1990, it took my little brain a lot of work to work it out and overcome is various challenges.
SolSeraph is basically the same game and its main theme is even composed by the original ActRaiser composer, Yuzo Koshiro. The main game loop is split into 3 game styles, an action platformer, a city builder and a tower defence game. It sounds mental when thinking about it but when you play it, it makes sense. All three game styles influence each other and it is supposed to deliver a unique experience. ActRaiser certainly did.
You play a god called Helios, you must build and defend your villages against a constant threat of unworldly beasts. To start a village you must complete a platforming section, vanquish the enemies and reach the end of the stage. Once this is done the game changes pace and you are presented with a city building section and must build a village that can survive and fend off waves of foes.
Eventually, after building out far enough you can attack the sources of these waves of beasties and hit back at your enemies. This takes the form of another action platforming section where you must vanquish all the enemies onscreen. Once this is done, you must build further, take over more bases and eventually take them all out. As with all city builders, managing your resources and planning are key to your success.
More buildings and options unlock as you play, along with more health and mana for each style of gameplay. In the city building parts, as you are a god and you can use your divine tools to help your villages along. You can use lightning, sunshine, rain and even speed up time. While the building and tower defence are quite basic and barebones, it is quite fun and enjoyable overall.
I like the loop of building and defending but unfortunately, the platforming sections ruin the overall experience. I may be looking back with rose-tinted glasses but I remember the ActRaiser platforming sections being more coherent, more fun and feeling more polished. Maybe I am wrong but the platforming sections in SolSeraph seem rushed and feel like an afterthought.
The platforming sections feel very stiff, the enemies are uninspired and they are just not fun to play through. The levels are quite badly designed, enemy placements are weird and these segments just end up being quite frustrating. The combat and platforming are just not tight enough, it feels like your character is wading through treacle.
I think the game would have felt better without the action-platforming segments. The only issue with that is the game would then just have been a very basic city-builder tower defence hybrid and the main draw for this game, for me anyway, is how the unique genres blend together and give the user a unique experience. Unfortunately, it just does not really work here.
This game could have been so good, if the platforming was tighter and more engaging, it would have complimented the other parts excellently. As it stands I just did not like being taken away from the building and defending to plod through very bland combat sections that were dull, drab and poorly designed. It is just not very fun and that is what we are here for, to have fun.
The music is very good though and that is one thing I really did like. It reminded me of the games of my childhood and I really enjoyed it. Graphically, SolSeraph is average, it's not bad by any means, it's just not very unique or striking in any way. It also performed well on a technical level, with just a few frame hitches here and there and the odd bit of texture pop-in. Nothing game-breaking or experience ruining in any way.