Digital | ON: GAMES

Gaming’s ongoing fighting spirit

by Brian Ashcraft

Swordplay of the highest caliber

“Soulcalibur” is one of Japanese gaming’s long-running fighting game series, but unlike “Street Fighter” or “Tekken,” it uses swords instead of fists. The latest entry, which was released this month, is a return to when it all started — and it’s great fun.

“Soulcalibur VI” goes back to the 16th century, the time period in which the original game was set. It’s a reboot of sorts that revisits and retells earlier events and, because of this, the characters look younger than they have in the past few releases. New to the series is a gameplay mechanic called Reversal Edge. Once activated by a player, this sets off a slow-motion cinematic sequence during which players can input different moves. Much like rock, paper, scissors, one move outdoes another and the winning character is viewed unleashing his or her attack on the loser.

Previous “Soulcalibur” titles have introduced guest characters, including Darth Vader and Yoda for “Soulcalibur IV.” “Soulcalibur VI” brings to the fray Geralt of Rivia, a star of the critically acclaimed “Witcher” series and, as in previous games, all the characters wear destructible armor and outfits.

“Soulcalibur VI” is a blast to play and is the game that I had the most fun trying out during September’s Tokyo Game Show. It’s available on PlayStation4, Xbox One and Steam for ¥8,208.

Japanese: sc6.soularchive.jp English: bit.ly/scalibervi-e

The quick and the ‘Red Dead’

“Red Dead Redemption II” is one of 2018’s most eagerly anticipated releases. Yes, Rockstar Games Inc., the makers of “Grand Theft Auto,” is back, this time with the latest entry in its critically acclaimed “Red Dead” cowboy series.

The previously released “Red Dead Redemption” was hailed as one of the greatest action-adventure video games ever made. Its stunning vistas, enjoyable gameplay, smart writing and memorable characters made it a classic fight for survival. So this sequel has a lot to live up to.

Set in the last days of the Wild West, “Red Dead Redemption II” tells the story of Arthur Morgan, a member of the Van der Linde gang of outlaws, and it features John Marston, the lead character of the earlier game, as well as gang leader Dutch. It has a single player mode and the choices players make influence following gameplay, making it one of the most immersive games ever made. Like “Grand Theft Auto,” an online version will also be available.

No doubt this is set to be one of the biggest-selling games of the year, and expectations are that it will also be one of the best. So have your guns at the ready when”Red Dead Redemption II” becomes available on Oct. 26. The PS4 and Xbox One download versions are ¥8,600, while the retail version, which is for PS4 only, is ¥9,504.

Japanese: bit.ly/reddead-j English: bit.ly/reddead2-e

Now for something different

FromSoftware Inc. is best known for its difficult sword and armor games, and its complex mech series. However, its upcoming release, a first-person virtual reality game titled “Deracine,” available for ¥3,240 on PS4 for PlayStation VR from Nov. 8 in Japan (Nov. 6 elsewhere), may not be what you expect.

In “Deracine,” the player is a fairy (or “faerie” as FromSoftware writes it) that explores a Victorian-style boarding school. Time is frozen, while you snoop around looking for clues to help you through the story. Characters are often frozen, too, but once time restarts, they may notice you exist. If they do, the school children in the game may send you on quests.

Gameplay is not fast or, like other recent games from the studio, brutally unforgiving, which makes it all the more surprising that “Deracine” was created by Hidetaka Miyazaki, best-known for the challenging action role-playing series “Dark Souls.”

The game may seem completely out of character for FromSoftware, but it is reminiscent of the company’s late 1990s “Echo Night” adventure games, in particular “Echo Night 2: The Lord of Nightmares,” which also has a first person point of view and lets players explore an ominous setting. “Deracine,” however, isn’t a horror game. It is still a little creepy, but to a moody effect that is totally unlike anything else that other major Japanese studios are releasing this fall.

FromSoftware is currently readying “Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice,” (think “Dark Souls” but with samurai) for release next spring and it’s great to see the game maker release something totally unexpected in the interim.

Japanese: bit.ly/deracine-j English: bit.ly/deracine-e