Bleach: Soul Resurrección Review
Developer: Racjin Co., Ltd. / Publisher: NIS America / Played on: PlayStation 3 / Price: $59.99 / ESRB: Teen [Mild Language, Mild Suggestive Themes, Violence]
I’ve long been a tortured defender of the Dynasty Warriors series. It’s an easy target–one glance and you assume that all you have to do is mash attack over and over until you win. Well, anyone that thinks that about Dynasty Warriors should play Bleach: Soul Resurrección (yes that’s the actual title, I’m not being cute.) This game is both derivative of and less intelligent than Dynasty Warriors, which should give some perspective to the beat ‘em up bashers out there.
The story mode of Bleach sets you against 14 levels, switching off characters as you go. These levels are nothing profound—long hallways constructed from one of five different graphics sets that occasionally block you in until you kill X amount of such and such. Once you mash your way through enough hallways, you hit a boss encounter bookended by brief conversational cutscenes (that will be absolute gibberish to you if you’re not familiar with the television show). At no point does the game require or incentivize you to do anything other than run right up to a dude and mash attack until he dies. In fact, when I first started playing I tried to block, dodge, use special attacks, and generally be something other than a mouth-breather of a player. This actually resulted in more death and longer fights than just bulldogging everything down.
There is one interesting mechanic at play in Bleach, though it’s neutered to the point of irrelevancy. As your combo goes up, you get a multiplier applied to the experience you earn. The idea is that with clean playing you can rack up a huge combo, reaping tons of experience and thus a better stage ranking. The stages even have little bits of rubble strewn about that you can “dash” through to keep your combo alive (it’s called “dash” but it’s really more of a “fly”). Only problem is the combo dies so fast that the slightest mistake will kill it, and I do mean slightest. If your combo doesn’t connect, combo dropped. If you dash too far and don’t hit the enemy you were aiming for, combo dropped. Patient players may enjoy obtaining the razor precision necessary to carry a combo through a whole level, but it’s just not worth it, especially considering that combat is fundamentally uninteresting.
Two other modes bolt some substance onto the game, which is necessary considering you can wipe out the story in under two hours. Mission Mode presents you with an atomized challenge that usually involves some sort of handicap–removing the ability to jump, for instance. These are slightly more interesting than the story mode levels, but only slightly. Soul Attack is essentially a high score mode, allowing you to rank your top combo through particular game sections on leaderboards. The effort here is appreciated, but it’s really just whitewash on the game’s basic mechanical flaws.
Most of those flaws stem from issues with control. Bleach commits the cardinal sin of beat-em-ups: enemy attacks are shorter than some of your attack animations. Every combo is accompanied by painfully long animations, which means you can be trapped in an animation when you see an incoming attack, completely unable to do anything about it. The dash, which should be instrumental in propagating your attack combo, is extremely hard to use as well thanks to a turning radius on par with an SUV. As previously noted, if you accidentally shoot past a monster or power-up, your options are to either stop the dash, which will put you in a lengthy recovery animation, or try to turn all the way around. This would frequently have me bonk into the invisible walls that surround the combat area, compounding the mobility issue. Simply put, rather than motivate you to try for higher and higher combos, the game’s controls work against you in most regards, so you’re likely to stop caring entirely.
Graphics and Sound
Bleach isn’t visually impressive in most regards, which oddly may be due to the source material. Long-running comics and anime series like Bleach tend to have geometrically simple characters and backgrounds, since artists have to draw it over and over. Carry that “style” into a game and, unsurprisingly, it looks very basic. The character models look okay and some of the attack animations offer some visual flair, but the game’s levels are as boring as styrofoam.
Though Bleach’s story sounds like contrived gibberish to one ignorant of the series, I have to admit the voice acting is damn good. Granted, it’s delivered with the same self-seriousness as most anime dialogue, but it didn’t make me writhe in my chair out of discomfort. The game’s music is appropriate, blaring generic metal while you go apeshit on anything in sight. It’s nothing I’d want the soundtrack for, but does a good job matching the gameplay.
Bleach: Soul Resurrección is not very good. Recent years have done wonders to erase the licensed-game stigma that used to surround these games. While not every game can be Batman: Arkham Asylum or even Naruto Shippuden Ultimate Ninja: Storm 2, it’s disappointing to see the quick and dirty license-based games reappear from days of yore. I’m sure Bleach fans will be all too willing to forgive this game’s numerous shortcomings, but everyone else should stick to more intelligent fare.
4.5 / 10