I’ve never been one to watch the Bleach anime or read the manga. Anime and I mix on very rare occasions. While Bleach revolves around evil spirits, souls, and all of this supernatural activity, I find myself enjoying anime more in tune with reality, such as Kenji Kamiyama’s Eden of the East. So going into Bleach: Soul Resurreccion, I naturally wasn’t very familiar with the story. And Soul Resurreccion‘s Story Mode didn’t do much in helping me understand.
The first of many problems with Story Mode is that it doesn’t know how to tell its tale. Unless you’re a Bleach fan, you probably won’t understand what’s going on. I know because I had my Bleach fanatic friend next to me as I was playing, helping me comprehend the story’s key points. Basically, Ichigo Kurosaki (above) and the Soul Reapers of the 13th Court Guard must defeat Sosuke Aizen and his army of Arrancars, who threaten to destroy the peace of both the Soul Society and World of the Living. There aren’t very many cutscenes that illustrate the story. Before you jump into a stage, after choosing an episode in Story Mode, you’re presented with a narrated wall of text that highlights what occurred before the stage and what’s occurring as you’re beginning the stage. While you’re actually playing, the only other bits of story presented (until the stage’s boss fight) are small selections of dialogue from other characters that appear on the bottom of the screen (they’re voiced). Once you get to the end of the stage for the eventual boss fight, you’ll see a minute-long cutscene of your character and the enemy speaking. You’ll go into battle, and in most cases, knock half his health down before there’s another small cutscene, then go back into the fight and finish them off.
Story Mode is short. It has fourteen episodes to play through, a few of which (two or three, I think) are straight boss battles. On Normal difficulty, boss battles can be won in two to three minutes. It’s easy — most of the time, you don’t need to worry about your health, as you’re doing most of the striking anyhow. On Hard difficulty, it’s a different story. Out of the few times I tried to play a stage on Hard, I couldn’t reach the end, so I decided it’s not for me. But on Normal difficulty, you could clear the story in 3.5 hours, tops.
I’ve heard Soul Resurreccion‘s gameplay constantly compared to Dynasty Warriors. Playing the game, I could understand why. But what Bleach does differently is offers non-repetitive, and even more so non-generic, hack-n-slash gameplay. The game offers a wide selection of 18 characters (they’re unlocked as you play Story Mode) who all have their own unique set of attacks and specials. Square is your basic attack, Triangle is your special (which consumes parts of your Spiritual Pressure bar — usually a projectile), Circle is your super special (which consumes all of your Spiritual Pressure bar), X is to jump, R1 is to defend, R2 is to dash, and L2 activates your Ignition Gauge (which you can use to perform your ultimate attack). You could mix these up in your own way, and perform a nice array of combos. There aren’t many, to be honest, but it’s still fun, nonetheless. The vastly different fighting style of each character keeps the game fresh.
Though, while gameplay is non-generic, environments are. Throughout the 14-episode Story Mode, you’ll play through only a small amount of environments. Episode 1 for example, is set in a desert environment. While episode 2 jumps to a castle environment, episode 3 goes back to the desert. Of course, it’s completely re-routed, but everything feels and looks the same. Not much detail was put into creation of the environments, either. Everything is bland and plain; it feels as if the world is not alive. One desert stage would be filled with gray blocks (which are destructible), the other with red pillars. The stages become a bore to the eye after a while, and it feels like you’re playing the same stage over again.
Aside from Story Mode, the game offers a 28-stage Mission Mode, each mission with their own clear conditions and difficulty levels. Even with the extra missions, which have no relation to the story, the stages all look and play the same as those from Story Mode. The same can be said for the type of enemies you face. There aren’t very many enemies, and some of the newer enemies you’ll come across fight the same as older enemies, but are merely re-skinned or re-colored. Simply said, the game’s no less than repetitive.
What may keep you playing is the game’s leveling system. As you play through Story Mode episodes and Mission Mode stages, you’ll earn Soul Points for your character. These Soul Points can be used to level up that character in what I can only describe as a Final Fantasy XIII Crystarium-esque leveling system. Leveling up one trait will allow you level up the traits around it. Level up that trait, and its surrounding traits will open, as well. Traits include: vitality, Spiritual Pressure, attack, defense, and abilities. You can’t exactly learn new abilities, but you can apply new features, such as the ability to counter upon defend, to your existing abilities.
Character variety keeps Bleach: Soul Resurreccion a different experience, but frankly, that’s all it has going for it. Bland environments, a short incomprehensible story, and an overall repetitive structure keeps the game from being on the level of anime video game titles such as Naruto: Ultimate Ninja Storm. This game is for the fans, who I’m sure will pick up the game whether they like it or not. A bonus, the retail disc includes a PlayStation Network voucher code for three episodes of the Bleach anime from the PlayStation Store. The game supports both English and Japanese audio, as well.
Bleach: Soul Resurreccion was reviewed on a PlayStation 3. Story Mode was played to completion. Mission Mode was also played, but not to completion. Bleach: Soul Resurreccion launches for PlayStation 3 on August 2, 2011 for an MSRP of $59.99.