Sol Divide – Sword of Darkness
Category: Arcade, Action, Shmup
Release Date: 03.22.2018
Sol Divide – Sword of Darkness by Psikyo on Nintendo Switch published by Zerodiv is an unusual but welcome blend of styles not usually found in the shmup (shoot em’ up if your unfamiliar) category. Sol divide had seen quite a few releases over the years. Originally released in Japanese arcades in 1997, Ps1 and Saturn in Japan in 1998, Ps1 in America in 2003, Ps2 in the United Kingdom in 2006, PC in America in 2015 and Finally gracing a Nintendo console now in 2018. I never got a chance to play it before now but apparently there is quite a divide among the hardcore shmup fans out there. This comes from the fact that it is so different from the usual type of game Psikyo is known for and really all shmup’s in general. It also features a very different art style than is the norm for a shmup or most any games really. Think of old Ray Harryhausen movies like Clash of the Titans or if that’s too old for you almost equally old games like Donkey Kong Country or Clay Fighter. This was another topic of contention among fans of Psikyo games but i really enjoyed the design.
Sol Divide – Sword of Darkness is mostly a horizontal sidescrolling shooter, but where it strays from the pack is that it also has beat em up features with aerial weapon based combat and light rpg elements with its magic system. You fight your enemies with a combination of melee, magic spells and projectile attacks. Projectiles are unlimited but not very powerful so you need to get in close to deal damage with melee attacks, which also fill your mana gauge that powers some of your magic spells. The spells are where the big damage comes from so its extremely important and necessary to have a balanced attack style combining all three types.
There are eleven spells in total with one being exclusive to each character . Fire sends out a burst of flame for several seconds, Freeze stops enemies in their tracks. Thunder, Death, and Meteor attacks everything on the screen, Slow and Wind are used to slow everything down and Heatbody gives you invincibility for a small amount of time. The character exclusive spells are Phoenix for Kason, Nightmare for Vorg, and Summon for Tyora. The spells Fire, Thunder, Slow and Freeze can be refilled by hitting with close range attacks. The other spells can only be used once before they are gone but can be collected again from items dropped by the enemies. In addition to spells, enemies will also drop items to extend your life or increase your power.
Sol Divide – Sword of Darkness also features a relatively rich story for this type of game. The story centers around Ifter, a maniacal emperor hell bent taking over the world, becoming a demon and killing millions of people . Only the three selectable characters can take on Ifter and his army. Our heroes even have pretty impressive back stories.
We have Kashon, the hawkman and Prince of Neraphai. Once Neraphai was conquered, he was the only one left strong enough to fight. Kashon is the most rounded at close combat and long-range attacks . His exclusive magic is Phoenix, this summons a large firebird to wreak havoc out for a few seconds.
Then there is Vorg, he is a dark knight from Silverna. He used to work for Ifter until he was betrayed and now only fights for vengeance, focused only on killing Ifter and cares not for the fate of the world. Vorg is the best at close range damage, doing huge damage with his sword. His exclusive magic is Nightmare which slows down whatever it hits and drains the enemy’s health.
Finally there is Tyora, she is a wizard from Rangforce and guardian of a temple. Tyora is the best at long-range attacks, she shoots huge waves of magic energy from her staff that does lots of damage. Her close range attacks are weak but quick. Tyora’s exclusive magic is Summons, which brings up a large creature that varies depending on the level, that does damage to everything briefly before it disappears.
Sol Divide – Sword of Darkness is a unique shmup that wasn’t afraid to try things differently with its melee combat and art style. I liked this different approach maybe because i’m really bad at these type of games and this made it a little easier to handle, although this game to me is still brutally hard. The levels are very short and there isn’t a ton of them except the last one that jams three together, with the help of three playable characters with different abilities the replayability opens up a bit . The music is also pretty good and keeps things pumping throughout. If you like shmup/bullethell lite games i think Sol Divide – Sword of Darkness is a pretty good time and is priced very well, so if your in for a challenge don’t wait on this one.
Plays well in all play styles and with both joycon and pro controller