When Sol Seraph was announced there was an almost heavenly choir singing the coming of the spiritual successor of Actriser. As a huge fan of the titles I had to have a look at this title and report on my findings? Heaven or Hell? let’s rock!.
Usually I try to shy away from comparing games, at the very least limiting the comparisons as much as possible, for all intents and purposes this is a sequel to the Actriser games (mostly 1) and was created as such.
The key thing with making such a homage is to have your own spin of things while embracing what made the original so good. Actriser combined city building elements with side scrolling action platforming and is often considered a cult classic, Actriser 2 dialed up the heavenly tones but stripped the city building, brilliant game but very difficult.
So what does Sol Seraph take from these offerings and provide to fans and inspiration alike?. Well it takes the basic ideas of Actriser 1 and much to my dismay, half arses the whole package.
Sol Seraph is a game of two halves, 1 half is an action platformer, the other half is a city builder/tower defence (sound familiar?). You take on the role of Helios, you use your godly influence to lead the humans to greatness while stomping out evil. On paper it’s a home run, unfortunately the story is thinner than said paper and neither half of the gameplay is good enough to pull the ambition off.
First off the platforming sections tell you everything you need to know about the game from level 1. The enemy designs are as generic as they come, over sized animals and goblins seem to be the flavour of the day. The controls are fairly weightless, even for an angel!. The combat just about passes but there is no oomph to it and the level design is none existent. Some stages are traditional left to right with the odd secret to find, nothing special outside of the standard themes I.E field, snow, desert and you certainly won’t be discussing the platforming or clever placement of platforms with your fellow gamers the next day.
Other stages come in the form of arena battles, you are thrown into a tiny stage and have to fight off uninspired enemies with just passing grade combat until the game abruptly decides your done. I hated these stages and there was no way of finding out if the next one would be one until you landed.
So does the Tower Defence/City Builder make up for this downfall?, sadly not, it infact brings the game even closer to hell. You’re given a lifeless area around a campfire where you have to juggle resources till you can build defences to stop the goblin army from putting out your light. Eventually you can build shrines near masses of evil which will then let you take it to the ground (see above).
It controls well enough but somehow manages to be no fun at all once you’ve done your first cycle. You can use powers such as lightning to damage enemy troops and there is a bit of strategy into how you build but it’s as dull as the world looks.
The game has a “minimalist” art style to it which really didn’t gel with me, I thought over time it would but sadly like most of this game it didn’t really settle with me.
It pains me to write so negatively about Sol Seraph, I genuinely got so excited when it was announced and when the review code came into the inbox I couldn’t have downloaded it faster!. After my initial few hours I was left with a bigger Actriser hole than when I started, my following plays only made that hole widen until I just dropped the game before it’s conclusion.
When you have a game so blatant in it’s conception the general idea should be to feed off of the nostalgia, add your own extra pizzazz in and create a title at least on the same level if not greater. Sol Seraph doesn’t manage this at all, rather than being the spiritual successor to Actriser, the next big cult game so to speak, it instead was a giant advert pointing me back in the direction of 2 titles that released 20 years ago, much like Lucifer, Sol Seraph deserves getting the boot from heaven.