I love me a good brawler and dungeon grinder at times. On some days, all I want to do is sit down and relax by slaying tons of enemies in very flashy and stylish ways.  When my wife and I were looking for a new game to try I ran across Soul Worker, and I discussed it a bit in a previous post but decided since I spent around 25 hours now playing it, I would write up a more detailed impressions on my time with the game.  For those curious, Soul Worker is a Korean Action RPG MMO which uses a 3rd Person Action Combat style, and is very much a dungeon crawler made in the same vein as games like Dungeon Fighter Online, Kritika, and so on.

Now, any time I write about an MMO such as Soul Worker, I am going to call the posts an Impressions post, simply because games like this evolve and change over time.  Bear in mind, it’s still going to be done in my usual review style complete with sections, but take anything written here with a grain of salt. Things may very well change for the game in the coming months and years after I write this, and I will most likely never update this as a “living document” as it were.  So these are my impressions at the time of writing this and posting it.  Any real changes are going to be in the Gameplay section more than likely, so keep that in mind.

Anyway, lets jump right in and talk about the visual style of the game.

VISUALS

The game honestly feels like I am playing an Anime at times.  Visually the levels are pretty basic but thankfully there is variety from each area.  The game is divided into Town Hubs, each with its own theme, and then Dungeons, each one using a unique tile set for that zone.  I saw underground sewers, an abandoned hospital, a mansion, a suburb, and so on.  Each dungeon had a clear theme to it, and it made sense in the context of the world.  Characters have limited customization, so while you can change your hair style and clothing at the start, pretty much all characters of a particular type will look the same.  All Stella’s will look like Stella, only with different hair and eye colors, essentially.

Enemy design is dull for the most part.  You spend a lot of time fighting the exact same enemies, and they even reuse bosses in later stages.  Kill a boss in one stage, and they will likely be an enemy type in a later stage of that same dungeon, barring the final boss of the final stage of a dungeon.  Most enemies just start to run together as fodder for your attacks.

Thankfully your attacks are super awesome looking.  Each of the characters have a unique moveset and style to their weapons and combos, and they all look fantastic.  Jin for example is a brawler who fights with his fists, is very close range and has heavy impacting hits, whereas Stella is someone who fights with a guitar and demon dogs, bouncing around a lot and uses her dogs to attack at range while also being able to heal the other players in the dungeon or herself if needed.  I ended up focusing on Lilly, a girl who wields a scythe and specialized in high speed multiple hits with decent range.  Overall the visual style is solid overall with just a few hiccups here and there for me in the area of variety.

AUDIO AND SOUND

So the game has voice acting first of all, and it’s in Korean.  Its solid stuff, and I love the little clips that play during cutscenes.  However, NPCs also have voice clips each time you talk to them…and those clips never vary.  You start to repeat them in your head every time you talk to the NPC Shopkeepers for example, and it wears thin pretty fast.  I got real tired of whatever the Blacksmith says after hearing it over the course of 25 hours, and knowing that he will always be there was not appealing in the slightest.  In fact, the NPCs follow you from town to town, so you NEVER get away from their clips.

The sound effects were all solid as well, and fit each character.  Hearing my wife’s character Stella jam out on her Guitar to summon her demon dogs was always a good time, and the attacks each sounded different.  Lilly’s attack sounded fast and lethal, while Jin sounded heavy and impactful.

However, one thing I and my wife both loved is the background music. It’s super atmospheric and fitting, each area having its own tune and its fantastic. I honestly commented multiple times while we played that the music was amazing, and my wife would agree.  If I could find a way to get the soundtrack I most likely would.

PLOT AND STORY

As far as a plot goes, there is one, but after 25 hours and going through 2 of the 5 hub zones I could not tell you what the overarching story is.  Each zone seems to have its own central conflict, which is told via long winded and dialog heavy stretches where you talking to multiple NPCs, frequently standing right next to each other, before heading into Dungeons where you try to listen to the NPC tell you things WHILE also killing large groups of enemies.  It honestly drags along because rather than space out exposition and action, you end up with HUGE dumps of exposition, and then short bursts of action.

From what I can gather, each character has their own unique start to the story, about how they got sucked up into this Void Zone.  Each one has some tragic history or past that I will not ruin here, and honestly its a bit over the top.  This Void Zone apparently destroyed most of the city, and when you come back its almost like no time passed for you, but the rest of the world has gone on for about 20 years.  From there, it’s a pretty standard post-apocalyptic Sci Fi story, where you, being this super powered individual known as a Soul Worker joins a group who defends the last few bastions of humanity against the ever encroaching forces of evil.  Additionally, each zone as I said has it own conflict.  Rucco Town, the first one, deals with these Puppets and their master, and Candus City, the second, has to deal with an evil corporation and its evil experiments.  It’s all very Anime, and while I like that from time to time, by the time me and my wife got to the 2nd town we were just skipping the exposition dumps because they were repeating themselves over and over.

Except for Trashbert.  I still have no idea what is up with him but I need to know why a dude is living in a trash can giving me kill missions.

GAMEPLAY

So first and foremost this is an online MMO styled game.  So you cannot play this offline.  You start by creating a character, but only in the loosest sense possible.  You see, this game is designed much more like a single player RPG.  You don’t create a blank slate character, you create a modification from one of the five base characters, each with their own distinct story and personality which WILL show during dialog.  I chose Lilly for example, and she switches between snobby rich girl to complete and utter psychopath.  Jin, another character I tried, is very much the goodest boi who wants a steady job with steady income and to help as many people as possible.  Stuff like that.  Each character also has a distinct weapon they use and playstyle, so do a bit of research before deciding.  The only real modifications you can make are hair color and style, eye color, and your starting outfit.  That is it.  Your character name is only seen by other players and is never used in dialog either so my wife’s character name of “Loli=^.^=” and mine of “Maddalia” meant nothing story wise.  Yes my wife named her character Loli Catface.  It let her and she laughed about it.

The game supports both KB/M and Controller, and I personally use KB/M for my controls.  WASD to move, space to jump, and left and right click for your basic attack and special “Soul” attack which is unique to each character and can do different things.  Lilly’s right click for example is a secondary dash, while my wife’s Stella actually changes from DPS to Support by using her right click to retune her guitar.  Jin had an AOE stomp that stuns on his Right Click.

You then have 6 hot bar buttons to slot in your various special attacks, and you can actually create combo chains of up to 3 attacks for each button.  What I mean by this is you can have 3 attacks that if you press the 1 key 3 times in a row that will fire off in succession.  Further, you can specify the effects your different combo stages have.  You could set your second 1 press to have increased damage, or decreased SP cost (the games mana system) and then your third press to have even MORE damage or a greater reduction in cost.  You choose.

You gain Skill Points at each level up, which you use to increase your basic attack, soul attack, and to buy new special attacks.  Each special attack can level up to 5, with increases to its effects.  Some attacks can also be upgraded with a unique twist, which requires them to be level 5 first.  A good example is my Lilly, who I was able to upgrade one of her attacks with a Life Steal effect (My only self heal!).  From looking at it, there are not enough Skill Points to master every skill, so you will need to plan ahead.  Respeccing your skills is NOT FREE!  You have to have a premium item, a skill reset ticket, to buy points back.  You do get these as log in rewards, but they are not free by any means.

Gameplay is pretty straight forward.  You go to a Stage Entrance, select your level and difficulty, and then go in and kill everything that moves.  No, really.  Unless you are doing a quest that specifically has you interacting with objects in the zone, your objective will always be to kill everything to move forward in the level.  This is an action game first and foremost, so you gotta be killing everything with flashy moves and increasing that combo counter!  You get achievements for a variety of things such as killing X enemies, hitting X combo counter, dodging a certain number of times, ect.  You can also find hidden quests in levels at random which can sometimes be very silly (Jump 10 times before the stage ends) to really annoying (Kill 5 Knocked Up enemies before stage ends).  You also get a ton of random loot and crafting materials as you advance through the stages.  The game also uses an Energy system to limit your play time.  Each time you access a stage / dungeon, you use up some Energy Points.  These refill at the end of the day, and they can stack…till they seemingly get reset at the start of a week back to 200.  Run out of Energy, you cannot continue playing.

Now beyond the repetitive nature of the gameplay itself which doesn’t seem to change, there is one more major issue for me personally and that is the limited inventory space.  Now, this is a free to play game, so I understand that limiting my inventory space is a way to get me to spend cash on expansion tickets, but its seriously cramped given the sheer amount of loot you pick up.  Worse still is your bank inventory.  Now, your inventory is divided in premium, fashion, and normal sections.  Fashion items such as clothes and accessories (The only way to customize your appearance) go into the Fashion section, anything cash shop or “premium” goes into premium.  These two are maxed out in space, so you don’t have to expand them.  However, every single thing else goes into your main inventory.  Most items you can sell or break down to make space.  However, there is one item, Brooches, that you cannot sell, you cannot destroy, and they DO NOT STACK!  These little bastards are so annoying because until you can use them (via slots on your Fashion items) they will always take up space. One slot for each brooch. And you have to add brooches IN ORDER to your fashion items! It goes Attack, THEN Defense, THEN Utility.  If you don’t get an Attack brooch, you cannot slot that Defense one you have, which means you have a space taken up at all times.  My bank has 4 of the things sitting in it, all utility, and none of my fashion pieces even have a Utility slot unlocked (which of course requires a cash shop item!)

Thankfully, you can get basic inventory expansion tickets (but NOT Bank Expansion Tickets, they are different) pretty often due to login rewards.  Just managing your inventory, with all the crafting components, gear, consumables, and so on can feel tedious and take away from the game.  In fact, I dare say my wife and I spend more time when we play sitting in town organizing our inventory and dealing with exposition dumps then we do actually running the dungeons, simply because we fill our inventory up so quickly.  Its honestly a buzz kill and slows the pace of the game to a crawl.

Oh, and one final issue: Neither me, my wife, nor our friend Virus who played with us can figure out how to rebind certain keys.  We tell the game to rebind them, our options menu shows we rebind them, yet the keys we selected never work.  It’s like the options menu doesn’t really do anything at times.  It’s very bizarre.

As far as the cash shop goes, its filled with your standard F2P stuff. Boosters, outfits, expansion slots, ect.  Everything is honestly pretty pricey with some outfits costing upwards of $20 in their in game currency.  I had no urge whatsoever to spend stuff on this game.

Now, as always, here is some unedited gameplay (Around 20 minutes) of my wife and I running a few dungeons and showing off how the game plays, as well as the inventory, towns, and other systems at play.  Also emotes!  There are plenty more subsystems in game including Akesha Cards, Daily Quests, Titles, and some other stuff, but its stuff that you can learn as you play rather than me trying to explain it to you…especially when I don’t understand it myself.  Pretty art on the cards though!  Gotta collect em all. (The Video is a link only because I cannot embed here on Patreon for some asinine reason)

FINAL THOUGHTS

Overall I enjoyed my time with the game, but it’s very repetitive nature and horrible inventory management, coupled with several mechanics that are poorly explained, left me wanting to find something better suited to my wife’s and my own preferences and honestly after 25 hours with the game both my wife and I have dropped it.  If you enjoy 3D action games, dungeon crawlers, or beat em ups you might find a few hours of fun with this game, and maybe enough to keep going much longer than I did.  Suffice to say, from what I have seen and heard from others, the game never really changes from the start to the end, and that alone was enough to put me off of it.

You can download Soul Worker for free on Steam if you want to give it a try. The worst it will cost you is some time, so if anything I have shown you here has interested you, give it a shot!  You might find you enjoy it much more than I did.  I do suggest playing it in short bursts rather than marathon sessions however, to maybe alleviate the repetitive nature of the gameplay.

Impressions: Soul Worker
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