Bleach: Soul Resurreccion Review
If you’re unfamiliar, Bleach is an enduring franchise based on the popular Japanese TV show. ...and if you are unfamiliar, grasping the storyline in Bleach: Soul Resurreccion is going to prove wildly difficult. But then again, why should we complain about such a drawback? Isn’t this game designed specifically for the hardcore followers of the series? After all, the gameplay is simple and accessible and fans of Dynasty Warriors are likely to take to this like fish to water, and the ceaseless action can keep you occupied for extended periods of time. Even so, regardless of your Bleach knowledge, things get old a little too fast.
The graphics are actually a high point, as they’re both slick and artistic. They capture the essence of the TV show quite well, and many of the animations and special effects are downright gorgeous. Provided you keep hacking and slashing, you’re gonna be satisfied with the visual results, and the overall presentation is diverse (provided you keep playing). Unfortunately, too many of the environments are just plain devoid of life; they’re not only bland, they’re like big empty arenas. It gets better later on but even the graphics can’t avoid the repetitive nature of the game (you’ll see the same effect a gazillion times). Still, overall character and enemy design save the day.
The sound isn’t bad, depending on your taste for cheesy anime voice acting. This is something the recently released Catherine avoided, but that’s because Atlus hired top-notch English voice actors. In the case of the latest Bleach...well, it’s traditional anime; cheesy, overly dramatic, and occasionally comical. The sound effects are sharply refined, though, and the soundtrack fits the on-screen action (partly because the music is crazy repetitive, too). It’s a nice mix and the audio definitely enhances the experience, but I think more could’ve been done.
As you might expect, there are numerous modes for gameplay, but the Story mode is obviously the bread and butter. A war rages in the Soul Society and throughout a 14-episode span, you will play as 10 different characters, battling swarms of enemies and over-the-top bosses that will get your blood pumping. Each episode begins with a brief narrative but not only are they disjointed and difficult to follow, the uninitiated are guaranteed to be lost. I’m one of those uninitiated and I had no idea what the hell was going on. Ever. At the same time, I recognize the game’s target audience.
And in checking around the Internet and trying to gauge the response of hardcore fans, it seems they’re not anywhere near as lost (duh), but they will admit that the plot in Soul Resurreccion could’ve been better structured. And of course, we have to remember that this game is all about the combat: it’s fast, mostly satisfying, and on the surface, extremely simple. While it’s true that you can take down most marauding enemies simply by mashing on the Square button, there’s more beneath the surface. Building a combo combined with character-specific special attacks is cool.
You really just have to experiment a lot to get the full scope and depth of the battle mechanic. The only problem is that once you’ve delved to the bottom, you’ll find that it really is a touch too straightforward, and some of your most devastating attacks just aren’t that fulfilling. In the end, I found myself mashing the button and not caring much about those sweet combos, even though I initially enjoyed myself. Even the boss fights don’t really do much to amp up the intensity, unless you’re really invested in the experimentation concept. Still, the enemy and boss designs are accomplished and unique, and they help to alleviate the deadening feel of the combat.
The camera keeps up with the action and the controls are decent, if not great. Building the combat multiplier and unleashing Super Moves can be especially satisfying but as I just said, you have to keep doing that or your interest begins to fade. The characters will sometimes toss in a few one-liners to keep you entertained, but that only works to a certain extent. I had fun dragging in as many soul points as humanly possible and in some ways, that can be awfully addictive, but the crux of the game’s overarching issue kept returning: the repetitive gameplay chafes. And it never lets up.
The good news is that if you can get into the nonstop action, there’s a ton of bang for your buck in this package. Multiple modes allow you to test new aspects of battle and hone your skills, even if it lacks a multiplayer option. Plus, fans of the series are bound to understand more of the storyline and appreciate the chance to play with ten recognizable faces. That being said, I refuse to believe that even the most die-hard series followers wouldn’t get a little bored…it’s that repetitive and in some cases, simplistic. It’s one of those, “yeah, it’s fun, but…” situations.
Bleach: Soul Resurreccion is a competent action slash-fest, loaded with tons of great enemy and character design, impressive animations, and an accessible, moderately rewarding combat system. But the backdrops are just too bland and uninspired, the repetitive nature of the gameplay gets tiresome, and that accessibility borders on tedious simplicity. If you experiment and rip off bad-ass Super Moves, and you’re a long-time follower of the Bleach franchise, there is some entertainment here. But the overall package just isn’t various or engaging enough.
The Good: Great animations and character/enemy design. Accessible, responsive combat mechanics. Decent control and camera. Fun factor is significant.
The Bad: Bland environments. Repetitive gameplay gets tiresome. Accessible battle system is a little too simple. If you’re not a Bleach fan, you won’t understand the plot.
The Ugly: “…pretty sure I’m gonna break the Square button if I keep this up.”
8/4/2011 Ben Dutka