Developed By: ACE Team
Published By: Sega
Category: Action-Platformer/Tower Defense
Release Date: 07.10.2019
The Nintendo Switch has had a pleasant renaissance of spiritual successors and series revivals with several old Nintendo properties, and beloved favorites from the platform making a series return in some way, shape, or form. With SolSeraph you have a game that takes nearly every aspect of itself from the Super Nintendo class, ActRaiser. Heck, even the way they titled SolSeraph is indicative of ActRaiser. Thus we have a title that stands on its own, but also must be matched up against its predecessor to see if it matches in form, makes the right changes, or falls short of its goals.
Much like in ActRaiser, you are a guardian of humanity who is entering the fray to help your people. You answer prayers and bring yourself down to mankind’s level to fight on the battlefield, as well as aid in there cities and production in order to make sure the civilization as a whole survives, and can defend itself. You are Helios, well known in mythology, but seemingly having very little to do with his historical counterpart, you must do everything it takes in order to aid humanity in its survival, expansion, and wars against various monsters from this world.
As you decide to place yourself into the realms of men and take on some of the burdens they have prayed about you are brought to the two styles of gameplay you will experience in this title. The first is your personal combat form. You take on the body of a winged angel looking being who fights with a holy blade. You run through levels with action-platforming mechanics in which you slice and dice baddies who try to block your path while travelling through a level you have to search and move through to find the end. These sections of gameplay are very indicative of gaming of old. Much like old school platformers of the NES and SNES era you have a jump function that feels very heavy and is hard to manage when you are fresh to this title, or older games that use similar jump mechanics. You have a double jump, which helps in this area, but you still have a jump that doesn’t really feel good when comparing it to the changes that have been for modern platformers. Those that are looking for that older experience will probably enjoy how this feels, but for anyone who has become accustomed to how things are done now might find a few minor issues here.
Beyond that you use your sword, and other attack mechanics in order to get past the monsters that come charging at you as you progress through the level. You have a magical arrow attack, as well as several elemental attacks that can be used to destroy the enemies before you. The combat here feels pretty good, and didn’t hurt my feelings by any means, but feels lacking just in general. You have to be careful and strategic with your attacks and movement when taking on enemies, especially ones that takes multiple hits to sunder, but I just felt myself wanting more. This portion of the game is very similar to titles like AeternoBlade, or could be considered another copy of how ActRaiser did it. It’s again something that people looking for that old, clunky feel might feel nostalgic for, but we have come a long way in making games feel better for the player and this game sticks to the older style in order to stay true to its spiritual roots.
Once you complete these sections you jump into a world-building tower defense mode where you will help build the actual cities of man, and keep them safe with proper defensive measures. You fly around the map and search out where the enemies will be streaming in from, as well as where your resources will need to be gathered from. You basically just collect wood for buildings, which translates into buildings, which translates into people and functions. You have houses that allow for a group of humans to become available, which you can assign them to collect more wood, or take up fighting positions. You can attack via barracks’ which produce ground units to fight hand to hand, as well as archer towers that allow for some combat at range. These mechanics are the very basics of tower defense, and even have a little bit of real-time strategy feel, but the lack of depth here is extremely noticeable. It makes sense why a SNES game like ActRaiser would go for absolute basics, and the lack of control with it being on a console adds to the design difficulty, however, it isn’t the 90’s anymore, and we can have some seriously in depth experiences in these genres on a console. The platforming section is lacking, but here we just have a bare experience.
You have a title in SolSeraph that is also probably not at its best on the Nintendo Switch. The game came out on all of the major platforms, and performance takes a slight hit being on the portable platform that we here at The Switch Effect hold so dear. Don’t get me wrong, it isn’t enough for me to say don’t play it on Switch, but you definitely have to be someone who doesn’t mind the lack of graphical fidelity, and being a Switch owner already hopefully you already feel that way, but it is worth mentioning. There is a weird grain this title, and it makes for a little bit of a blurry experience on this platform. You don’t notice it as much in the tower defense sections, but when playing through the action-platformer parts you have a title that is a step below what you might expect. I am not a game developer, and I am well aware of the difficulties in general, especially in a platform as unique as the Switch, but I find indie titles that are small experiences already and have this amount of hits in order to allow the game to run hard to fathom at times. Again, maybe that’s my ignorance, but I didn’t see anything in this game that made me think it would have this level of downgrades to its performance.
SolSeraph is true to its roots and brings together an experience that many fans of the SNES classic ActRaiser will probably wholeheartedly enjoy. However, the game doesn’t iterate on the old school experience in any seriously meaningful way, and brings forth an experience that now feels dated and slightly out of touch. It isn’t a good action-platformer title and also is a seriously lacking tower defense game. The game has a hard time being good at any of the things it has set out to do as others have taken the experiences in ActRaiser and created wholly new experiences that are inspired, but something that makes sense for modern audiences. SolSeraph doesn’t do this and it hurts it overall. A game I can suggest for anyone who played the SNES extensively and doesn’t mind the negatives that come with that nostalgia, as well as for anyone who is looking to try out ActRaiser but doesn’t have a way to play the actual thing. But I fear a lot will find this title something that is hard to get through with how much ActRaiser is hyped up for its innovation.
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*The Switch Effect was provided a review code for this game*