Los Angeles based NIS America has brought Shonen Jump’s serial manga, Bleach to the PlayStation 3. While this isn’t the first videogame iteration of the hugely popular series, it does mark the first time a Bleach game is on a high definition console. Bleach: Soul Resurreccion is an action/fighting game that truly does blend both genres well and captures an authentic anime art style. The subtitle is even a reflection of the use of Spanish terminologies and the setting in the anime series. This isn’t to say it’s a game for everyone but, Soul Resurreccion is surprisingly accessible.
So much of reviewing videogames is the point of reference the reviewer uses and their level of expectation prior to playing the game and with this in mind, two confessions are in order. First, this writer has never watched a single Bleach anime episode and second, I find the hack and slash Warriors games painful to endure. These points are important because, while Soul Resurreccion throws names around in its narrative like bead necklaces at Mardi Gras, it doesn’t hurt the experience nearly as much as expected if one does not have prior expectations or knowledge. Based on the Bleach animated series, Bleach: Soul Resurreccion depicts the battle between the Soul Reapers and the army of evil Arrancars that threaten the peace of the world.
The Warriors comparison is easy to make at first glance, but this game does a much better job of offering quick rewards and maintaining a sense of progression. The story may very well go over the heads of all but the most die-hard fans, but there is fun to be had regardless. The level design, which lacks variety, keeps the areas and encounters fairly small so it always feels like you are making progress. The currency of the game is Soul Points which are accumulated by defeating enemies and destroying objects in the environment (yes, there are destructible environments). The Soul Points are then used to purchase upgrades on the throwback, RPG-type, skill map for the character you are using.
The combat itself is a good combination of simplicity and depth using each of the left and right buttons in addition to the standard face buttons. The basic moves are jumping, dashing, a short range slash attack, a ranged attack, and a “super move,” as well as blocking and countering. The ability to fly gives the player the chance to redeploy to a more advantageous location if you get bogged down or just want to skip over some non-mission essential enemies. It is also useful if you find yourself on the verge of death and need to get to health power-up quickly.
None of the moves require direction presses or are terribly difficult to pull off but there are both air and ground combos and individual “ignition” attacks. It’s surprisingly easy to pick up and play-and play well, at least on Normal in the story mode. The Mission and Soul Attack modes will offer additional wrinkles and obstacles to overcome. Occasionally, the camera will end up in an awkward position but it can be reset with a button push and it is easily adjustable with the right stick unless you have locked on an enemy.
As stated, Bleach: Soul Resurreccion features three different modes that each offers a different type of reward. The Story mode lets you play the narrative by alternating characters in the main story arc and allows you to unlock the majority of the characters. There are a total of 21 playable characters and for the anime purists, Soul Resurreccion features dual-audio voices, meaning it has both full English and Japanese voiceover tracks. The Mission mode allows players to unlock more content including collectible statues, ala Resident Evil. Soul Attack is referred to as the online mode but is instead a series of levels where you can compare your scores with your friends online. Unfortunately, there is no multiplayer or co-op, local or otherwise, to share this game with your friends.
To try to summarize what you’re getting with Bleach: Soul Resurreccion, it’s a cell-shaded, anime Soul Calibur and Dynasty Warriors mash-up. If you’re a Bleach fan, it’s really a no-brainer, there’s no reason not to buy this game. For everyone else, this is a very solid action/fighting game with a lot of quick rewards. The lack of multiplayer and limited environments may turn some people away but as a single player game, Bleach: Soul Resurreccion is one of the best games of its genre and more fun than you might expect.
Bleach: Soul Resurreccion is rated T (Teen) by the ESRB for Violence, Mild Suggestive Themes and Mild Language.