Overview of Soulbringer
Soulbringer, by Gremlin Interactive, was developed in 2000 as a 3D action/roleplaying game. The game pitches the player as an un-named journeyman hero in the realm of Rathenna. The storyline itself is bland and unoriginal and places the character in the midst of a land ravaged by evil, and it is up to you to defeat said evil by spell and sword. It also transpires that your character is bound by prophecy to uncover a darker, more sinister evil as a result.
Soulbringer Gameplay (2 out of 5)
In terms of gameplay, it appears as the mutant child of Diablo, Darkstone and Ultima Online, and Soulbringer pays some small homage to each. It offers a lot of action in a quest-based structure, while delivering some small element of hack n’ slash
The combat in Soulbringer is unique to the game in that combat animations have been motion captured, while rather than simply clicking on your opponent, you can select a range of attacks to perform depending on your skill and weapon. There are usually up to 5 different attacks which can be performed per weapon which can be unlocked as your character gains power and combat levels. Attacks can be customized by creating combinations that can be set to come into play whenever combat takes place. This can largely automate the combat process, which can become tedious otherwise.
The magic system is also unique to the game. There are five magical areas although these are the common elemental types found in most other RPG games. However, the unique aspect balances each of the magical elements and adjusts depending on which you use the most. So, for example, if you use predominantly fire-based spells then your fire balance will increase while all others will reduce. The higher your magical balance in one element the lower the cost it becomes to cast spells of that type, while their effect is also increased. The downside is that you become more vulnerable to spell attacks of types where you have lesser scores, so the need to try to balance magic use is important. Spells are acquired by finding magical tomes and the rune necessary to open it, but as books contain spells for each element, if you’re specialising in one element, it can be annoying having to flick back and forth through the books to find the relevant elemental spells.
Unexplored areas are shrouded in a ‘fog of war’ but unfortunately, the game doesn’t commit explored areas to memory, instead reshrouding the area when you move out of it. This can result in you becoming easily lost in the game. There is also a glaring omission that really should be a staple ingredient in any RPG – there is no mini-map! Coupled together, you’ll find yourself wasting time running around aimlessly trying to find your way forward in the game with frustrating regularity.
Soulbringer’s camera angles are woeful and do little to help remedy the feeling of confusion. Although the game uses a point-and-click interface to move and execute most actions, you need to use the keyboard to adjust the camera’s view which seems to have a mind of its own, often panning to an undesired angle or view.
Soulbringer Graphics & Sound (2 out of 5)
Age hasn’t been kind to Soulbringer and today it looks extremely dated. However, even at the time of release, Soulbringer was at best mediocre in the graphics department.
The characters, while animated using motion capture, are crudely modelled and polygons are constantly clippling. Textures are bland and the end result is that characters look really poorly rendered, especially when viewed close up.
The sound is adequate and functional, but voice acting sounds out of place in the game. While it has been done to a decent standard, the language and tone doesn’t really marry into a fantasy setting.
System Requirements (5 out of 5)
As you might expect from a game released in 2000, Soulbringer’s system requirements are hardly taxing. All that is required to play Soulbringer is a PC with the following specs:
8MB 3D Accelerator,
Verdict on Soulbringer (2 out of 5)
Soulbringer could have been good, but there are too many flaws in its makeup to make it a Diablo-beater. While it has an engrossing storyline, there is a real need to make sure you read through the books and scrolls you find to ensure you know what is going on, otherwise the game begins to get confusing; Soulbringer isn’t really a game you can just pick up and play as a result.
The game is overly linear and there is no chance to do your own thing. Even though Diablo had a linear plot, you could still pick and choose which quests to do and when you did them. That isn’t the case with Soulbringer and there are no side-quests to perform either – each quest is necessary to drive the plot forward.
The game’s graphics and sound are poor and haven’t aged at all well, and combined with the poor character interface serve only to compromise what could have been a decent, if unoriginal RPG. The ‘fog of war’ issue is particularly irritating and the lack of a proper map is unforgiveable.
That said, the game itself is huge and will provide gamers with many hours of gameplay, which unlike many other RPGs – and games in other genres – can stretch into days, if not weeks of play. Soulbringer’s unique combat and magic systems are interesting and perform relatively well in the game, but sadly these factors are not enough to save Soulbringer from being anything other than a distinctly average RPG and it is hard to recommend Soulbringer in the face of other RPG titles released around the same time.