SolSeraph is a mix of strategy and platforming. Does the concept ring a bell? Sure, because it’s a tribute to the classic ActRaiser, a 16-bit video game created by the developers of the legendary Terranigma. Read on to find out the key points of this game in our analysis of SolSeraph. By the god Helios!
Sometimes we forget that video game developers love video games as much as we do. Behind the gloomy image that we may have of video game developer artists, enclosed in their thoughts of code, design, playability and sound, they are people who are also in love with our leisure. This means they also have their own preferences, favourites and their own references to idolatry. Ace Team, who made Rock of Ages or Zeno Clash, have again shown their passion for a classic game away from the great pantheon of video game history: ActRaiser. The result? SolSeraph, a true homage to Quintet and Enix on PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch and PC.
As with the original ActRaiser, the production has strategy sections and platforms, mixing two concepts that look like water and oil but end up marrying in an organic and certainly justified way. The god Helios, the protagonist of the adventure, must visit different locations to stop the fearsome ancient gods, which are sowing chaos among human civilizations. To put an end to his reign, you’ll face intricate levels of platforms, hordes of enemies, and stupendous final bosses who will grant you new powers with which to face new threats.
On paper it may sound like a strange and unusual concept. Does it work in practice? SolSeraph is a proficient independent video game with pros and cons, but satisfying enough to enjoy a great classic adventure in which you’ll be reunited with a truly forgotten Super Nintendo classic.
SolSeraph arrived from the sky
The beginning of each of the game sections is simple: you must descend from the skies to the new map and fight dozens of enemies in sections of platforms that will allow you to open the territory to Helios. Once inside each new section, you’ll manage the town’s strategy against rival attacks in a tower defense mode where you’ll be able to open new paths to new platform levels. Once completed, you will access the last level of each world, with their respective battle against the final boss in turn and access to a new power that will allow you to improve the skills of Helios.
Action levels are divided into two types: hordes and traditional platforms. There’s not much to explain about the first type, as the proposal is unimaginative and seems to be there to fill in areas where they weren’t able to build levels according to what is expected from a tribute to ActRaiser. The more classic levels are much more interesting: Helios has a melee attack and different abilities that add up to ending up with final enemies. Also noteworthy is its double jump, which is of great help in specific situations in the game. As in the original, Helios will have a large tank of energy with which to survive the many threats that come by land, sea and air.
Battles with the final bosses are reserved at the end of each world section. They are usually represented by great enemies who, accompanied by other rivals, will make things very difficult for Helios. Once defeated, the player gains a new attack. Among them are healing powers, powerful flames, ice attacks that fire at 180º or the possibility of flooding the level. The better the arsenal, the better the game will be and the wider the options when facing each of the challenges that ACE Team presents to SolSeraph players. They are competent levels with a certain aftertaste of classic, so much so that you’ll prefer platforms to tasteless hordes.
Retro tower defense
SolSeraph wouldn’t be a tribute to ActRaiser if it didn’t have a real-time strategy section. That’s the way it’s been: between the action screens there are strategy moments when we’ll have to manage the villagers’ resources in each section of the map to fight monsters. The objective is to avoid the attacks to the central area of the town, so you will have to create points of defense to prevent the arrival of the enemy. To do this, you must create houses, have food, wood and enough souls to take advantage of the magical powers that Helios gives to the villagers in each region.
Some enemies have weather elements associated with them that change the dynamics of the game. So far it’s all good ideas and intentions. The problem? It seems that wood is too powerful an element and that it opens the doors to the rest of the constructions in an uneven way, ruining the section.
Although the first tower defense missions presented a challenge, it didn’t take me long to deduce that the strategy to follow was to collect as much wood as possible from the area in the first few turns to start building houses, farms and war posts. From then on, all that’s left to do is wait for the weapons to be collected so that you can unlock a new area of the map and overcome the different levels of action until you reach the final enemy. Maybe SolSeraph would have required some more resources that would have complicated the strategy sections a bit more, since the quick access and without any limitation to the wood turns half of the game into a mere procedure between screens.
Disappointing audio and visuals
Yuzo Koshiro, known for his incredible work on the soundtrack of the legendary Streets of Rage, put the music to the original ActRaiser. For the occasion, ACE wanted to work with the Japanese artist, who composed the main theme of the title. The rest of the soundtrack is by Patricio Meneses, who has been able to compose some catchy songs reminiscent of 16-bit classics but with a serious problem: some melodies are somewhat repetitive and are not presented as a loop during the game, presenting sections in which, suddenly, silence reigns. Equally repetitive are the voices and sounds of the rivals and the din of battle: there is no great work here.
While Helios looks great, I can’t say the same about all the other enemies. It’s not very imaginative when it comes to creating the different monsters of the game, opting for an army of clichés that go hand in hand with tributes to the original ActRaiser and the different monsters that ring in the imagery of the genre of the last 35 years. This is not the case of the final bosses: there are some wonderful ones that will be a pleasant surprise for you as the player.
In the end, although it doesn’t disappoint, it doesn’t stand out in any of its sections either, leaving it parked for those nostalgic players who wish to play something similar to Quintet’s classic in 2019.