Written by  :  Jeanne (76526)
Written on  :  Oct 11, 2003
Rating  :  4.17 Stars4.17 Stars4.17 Stars4.17 Stars4.17 Stars

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RPG-meets-Adventure ... and does it well

The Good

From the moment you start your new game, you are drawn into the deep and engrossing story of a young man with an unknown destiny. Why your character is called "Soulbringer" won't be revealed until you have played almost half-way through - and that'll take quite awhile.

I give highest marks to Soulbringer's sound effects and lovely music. Each location has unique music which changes as new events happen. The most prominent sound effects are for the weather (snow, wind, ice, rain), for which I admit turning the volume down. Sound effects during spellcasting add to the visually stunning graphics of those magical feats. Right up there with the music is the quality of the voice acting. Each character's voice is excellently portrayed with proper influx and tone. All of the voices are appropriate to the person being played (including the main character) and there is very little dialog monotony.

Graphics of the locations (inside and out), NPCs, monsters and scenery are well-done and realistically rendered. At first, your locations are limited to the town of Madrigal and its immediate surroundings. As you explore and talk to others, more locations become available - some only available through magic.

In real-time, battling with weapons is challenging and varied. The game features optional "combo" moves that you assign to each weapon, and these get more intricate as you advance allowing you to dodge and parry during combat. But, you can still fight "manually" without those, which makes it nice. Because battles put wear and tear on all of your equipment, you must constantly get your armor and weapons repaired by the local smithy.

There are about 70 magical spells contained in 13 Books of Magic. Each spell has its basis in an element (fire, wind, water, air and spirit). To a become well-rounded warlock, cast equal numbers of each element to balance your "Seculorem", which is not as easy as it sounds. Supposedly if you are unbalanced, you are more susceptible to damage from spells cast from your undeveloped groups.

You decide where to apply the points achieved with each new level advancement. There are numerous quests to be solved, some revealing themselves as you solve others. And, the game is pretty darned long. After 3 months, I'm still playing it and I think I'm about 80% done. In addition, it plays equally well within Windows XP or Windows 98, even though it was released in 1999.

The Bad

Despite these things, I am enjoying Soulbringer very much.

An in-game travel map would have made travelling around much easier. As it stands, you are given a limited view of your surroundings at any given time - all of the unseen portions dark. As you walk, the area around you opens up and what you leave behind goes dark again. This makes it very difficult to get your bearings at first. The 3D graphics are nice, but adjustments to your angle of view can get you lost quickly.

As is usual for me, latter game foes become more difficult - some too much so - making it stupidly hard to defeat them. Frustration might make you quit altogether ... which occurred to me several times. (But I always went back. Go figure.)

There are too many wide-open, empty spaces in the landscape. Grassy fields with nothing in them, for instance - no monsters, no items to find. Why include so much uninteresting territory? Was it to lengthen the time required to get from place to place? Or was it to give the impression of vast wastelands? Who knows!

Finally, the designers gave us only 5 save-game slots - with no Quick Save or Quick Load! What were they thinking?

The Bottom Line

Soulbringer decently represents a blend of RPG-meets-Adventure. It is much more a Role-Player than an Adventure game, though. "True" Adventure gamers probably won't like it at all. RPGers seeking a simple hack and slash should look elsewhere, because Soulbringer is much more than the normal dungeon crawl. It's intricately woven story and character personality advancements keep you coming back to continue the quests.