Korean Hack n Slash MMORPG - An action-packed Hack N Slash, SoulWorker is a fun albeit repetitive MMO which is really more like a single player game with Co-Op. A fun experience while it lasts, the western release of the game however is gimped by Game Forge's mishandling of the game.
Anime MMORPGs are a rare breed. Good ones anyway, and for use anime and MMO fans, that’s a darn shame. So when a good Anime MMORPG comes around, we play it as long as we can and cherish it more than that all-red Pokeball.
SoulWorker is a refreshing entry into the somewhat sparse Anime MMORPG genre. The art style is just plain gorgeous, and the combat is fast and furious, no Vin Diesel required. And most importantly, the game is fun.
While it lasts at least. The game is still young, but in its’ current state, there just isn’t enough to do. Players will have a blast in the initial hours, but once the serious grinding starts, the fun drops off a cliff. The endgame is pretty nonexistent, and what little there is to do, isn’t very enjoyable. Soul Worker is an instanced based, dungeon hack and slash, and it can get very repetitive very quickly. And the alterations that Game Forge made to the game, make the bad aspects of Soul Worker even worse. In its’ current state, it doesn’t have much in the way of lasting power, but it’s a great way to spend a weekend or two with friends.
The premise of SoulWorker is simple. 15 years prior to the events of the game, a Void brings about the end of the work as demons come through the portal and terrorize the planet. 15 years later, you take control of 1 of six young protagonists known as Soul Workers each with unique special powers.
If it sounds like every anime post-apocalypse story ever, that's because it is. The story isn't the focal point of the game, however, the combat is. After a short tutorial, you're let loose on the world to hack n slash your way through every monster you come across.
Although it's tagged as an MMORPG, SoulWorker is really more like a single-player game with Co-Op capabilities and in many instances in the game, often feels like it would've worked better as a single-player game. But I'm getting ahead of myself. Let's dive into this thing and see how much soul it has.
The character creation process is an important aspect of any MMORPG (Or at least should be) and unfortunately, the character creation process in Soul Worker is very disappointing. For starters, you’ve only got a selection of six gender-locked characters to choose from. One of which is unavailable in the English version of the game. I would much prefer if the game just allowed us to create our own characters from top to bottom, not make us choose from pre-sets (Or at least don’t make presets the only option).
SoulWorker only gives you a choice between 6 characters; 1 of which is not available in the English version of the game.
Adding fuel to the fire is the fact that the customizable options for whatever character you choose are also quite limited. The number of voice and attack animation options are fine, but the clothing selection, hairstyle, and eye color options are pretty skimpy. This would be bad in any MMORPG, but especially in an Anime MMORPG. Anime is the world of gravity-defying spiky red hair and half purple half gold eyes, and players like going wild with the characters they create. Limiting our options was definitely a bad move.
Once you create your character and move on to the tutorial, you’ll quickly see that the developers have more than made up for it with the presentation. One of the best things about Anime MMORPGs is the fact that they don’t need to look like the next Crysis to look good. The art style is far more important in this genre than hyperrealism graphics, and the art style in Soul Worker is great. The characters and the monsters all look good, and the starting area, Rucco Town is really quite beautiful, with a colorful sky and big pink trees. The music is also quite good, and atmospheric; serene and blissful in non-combat zones, but ramps up when you engage in enemies or during action-packed cutscenes.
Another aspect I liked a lot, was the voice acting and the character animations. The game is entirely in Korean, and although the story is nothing to write home about, (It's quite bland and at times, downright terrible) the voice actors and actresses do a good job with the material they were given, awkward dialogue aside. The emotes are nice, and the attack animations are flashy and fluid. Each playable character even has their own quirky habit when they’re idle. The character I chose, Jin Seipatsu, starts doing one-arm pushups if he stays in one spot for too long. The developers definitely did a good job across the board on this one.
Soul Worker is a hack and slash title, so the combat has to be good for the game to last and rest assured, the combat in Soul Worker is great. And more importantly, it’s really, really fun.
As stated earlier, the combat animations look great. Jin is a brawler so he rushes at the enemy delivering a flurry of punches and kicks to defeat monsters, and watching him string combos together was a real pleasure to watch. You’ve also got your expected special skills that you can use which deal a ton of damage.
Most mobs of enemies at lower levels are fodder, but the bosses in this game, are hard. The very first boss in the game can defeat you in 3-4 hits. Soul Worker is definitely not a brainless beat em up, and if you’re not paying attention, you can get knocked out before you know it.
Enjoy destroying mob enemies with ease while you can. At higher levels, mobs can be more dangerous than bosses
Luckily, the game does have an evade mechanic, where your character dashes in a certain direction and can avoid damage. Once you practice this enough, your character can avoid most attacks pretty easily.
One thing that should be noted about the combat, however, is that the Western release of Soul Worker, is much, much harder than the Asian release. I’ve spoken to many players who have tested the two, and it appears GameForge has made the Western version a lot more difficult. More on this later.
Another thing I have to mention is while the combat is indeed fun, that’s only while it lasts. The biggest flaw of any hack and slash that you’ll have seen over the years, is repetitiveness. Some hack and slash games don’t get boring, and some do. Soul Worker does get boring. The amount of grinding that you have to do as you near the endgame is just absurd (Try 168 million exp from level 54 to level 55) and since Soul Worker is an instance-based dungeon crawler, you’re going to be grinding in the same bland dungeons for hours on end, and this gets really boring really fast. The grinding in this game is a bit too excessive and will put off a lot of players. Combine this with the game’s obnoxious mobile game esque stamina system, and the enjoyment level just tanks.
Dungeons are pretty fun to do with friends, but lose steam fast and are dragged down further by the game's stamina system.
The game has other things to do besides grinding to keep you busy. There’s PVP, but pretty much no one plays it to the point where you can just write it off. There are raids you can do, but a lot of them are boring and some of the more enjoyable ones, were removed by GameForge when the game was released to Western audiences. And that’s one of the game’s biggest problems. If you want players to grind for hours on end, then the endgame better be worth the effort put into getting there, and for Soul Worker, it simply isn’t. There isn’t much endgame to speak of, and what little there is, a large portion of it just isn’t fun.
The Soul Worker released to the western world is not the same version released in SEA. In fact the western version, is far worse. The game is much more difficult, and the enemies hit harder. The exp rates are significantly nerfed as well and the energy costs to run dungeons have been increased. If you don’t purchase energy recharges, you’ll have to wait as long as an entire day to recharge. This is utterly absurdTo top that off, the material costs for crafting are also higher making it tougher for players to get better equipment. GameForge has made nearly everything harder on players and there’s one main reason for this: money.
The western version of Soul Worker is far more of a cash grab than the SEA version (The SEA version is quite fine as a matter of fact). Stamina systems have no place in an MMO game and limiting the player’s ability to play as long as they want, is just plain unwise. Presumably, the huge difficulty spike was done so as to promote the purchase of health/revival items more, and same goes with the increased difficulty costs of running dungeons.
The game’s cash shop also employs an atypical and sleazy microtransactions tactic of pricing items slightly higher than the amount of in-game premium currency you can purchase in a single package. Say you purchase a package for 1800 points, but the item you want costs 1850 points. Again, really quite sleazy and it makes you think you’re playing a mobile game, not an MMO.
The Western release of Soul Worker is kind of like a Western live-adaption film based on an anime; Pretty bad and an insult to the source material. Game Forge really dropped the ball on this one. It’s twice as hard, grinding is twice as slow, lacks content, has an unnecessary region lock, and has excessive P2P/P2W elements in it.
There’s also a slew of technical issues the game suffers from. Server issues galore, the loading times are horrible. Just booting up the game takes me five minutes. This is unacceptable. The loading times between zones are also too long, usually 30+ seconds.
The game has a large number of translation errors as well, and some dialogue wasn’t even translated at all and remains in Korean. It’s hard to believe this level of translation errors could slip by if the game was adequately playtested.
All in all, I can’t really recommend the Western release of the game. There’s no reason to play this game over the vastly superior SEA version. That being said, find an English patch and hop on to the Japanese server, as the Japanese version of this game is a blast to play, minus all the poor implementations Game Forge introduced in the western version.Ready to enter the world of Soul Worker? Click here to play now!
What We Liked..
Available on Steam
Fun and fluid combat
gorgeous art style
solid voice acting
.. and what we didn't
Combat gets repetitive after a while
lack of endgame content
English version has halved exp rates and double energy costs
obnoxious stamina system
too many P2P/P2W elements
server issues and long loading times
What we liked..
.. and what we didn't