Soulvars Review – Style on Speed

    Title: Soulvars
    Developer: ginolabo, SUCCESS Corp.
    Release Date: June 26, 2023
    Reviewed On: PC
    Publisher: SHUEISHA GAMES
    Genre: Deck-Builder RPG

Porting mobile experiences to other platforms doesn’t always work. When playing a mobile game, it’s as if you’re constantly playing against the clock. Have 10 minutes before a meeting? Okay, I’ll play a bit. Soulvars from developer Ginolabo emphasizes this sense of time through its fast paste systems. However, bringing that experience to other platforms creates different expectations. Thankfully, the speed and presentation of this once-mobile game exclusive find a nice home within this port, but some of the streamlined systems don’t translate as well.

When you begin Soulvars, you will not know how your character is or what you’re mission is. You’re trusted into the tutorial battles, where you’ll learn the surface-level basics of this game’s mechanics, and then you’re off on your own. You’ll learn more about your mission and the characters who join you along the way, but during my time playing, I never had any idea who was who or what was what. All I knew was I was kicking anyone’s ass who stood in my way.

Evidently, you play as a Soulbearer, basically humans with alternate Souls who fight against the invading Dominators. You play as Yakumo, who works for the Dominator Disposal Organization and is tasked with clearing out the city of all threats with the help of a few friends. If I’m being honest, the writing handles character introductions terribly. I never felt attached to the mission at hand, and when characters left the party, I would simply shrug and move on. There’s an attempt at bringing an antagonist into the story, but I have no idea who he is or how he knows these characters.

Surprisingly, there’s an encyclopedia that outlines everything you need to know about this world as terms come up. So if you really want to know what’s going on, I suggest looking there. Still, I wish they used this opportunity to improve the overall story, given how cool these characters are.


Outside of that, this game is all about speed, and you’ll be timed from the very beginning. Time is being added up from your first mission, and actions that you take, either by escaping a dungeon or resting, will also add to your time. I didn’t pay too much attention to it, but I did my best to move as fast as possible through the levels.

There’s an overview map of all the locals you can visit. Dungeons are made up of squares you can swiftly move through, but they do become maze-like, so understanding the layout of the dungeon is important. Without much work, I seemed to always end up where I needed to be. There are some gimmicks in dungeons, such as switches and interactable objects, but they don’t become overly complicated to explore.


While exploring, you’ll enter combat, which triggers a turn-based encounter. Actions require AP to utilize cards. I guarantee even after the tutorial; you will have no idea what you’re doing. I suggest spending some time understanding the icons on the cards, but you can easily just brute force your knowledge of the system by trying new things.

I kind of enjoyed figuring out the battle system’s nuances and how to properly build decks, create combos, and get the most out of equipment. This also includes a system where characters can transform into their Soul-selves to unleash a few powerful attacks. This comes with the added benefit of healing after transformation, so it can play into strategy.

As cards are used, you’ll need to suffer damage to redraw from your discard pile. It’s an interesting system that forces you to think more about your choices and actions. Combos are created by using two cards that create a unique ability for each character. This is likely the only way to do any real damage to the bosses, but it also requires you to pull the correct combination of cards and have the AP to use multiple cards.


Everything is about speed in this game, but you can still slow down to go to the shops and buy items. Further, there’s a decent level of equipment customization for each character that allows you to add modifications to weapons to fine-tune your attack capabilities. There are people to talk to around town, but more often than not, they have nothing important to say. However, you have to talk to them since some offer you a sidequest, which is organized nicely in the menu so you know what you have to do.

The graphics and presentation of Soulvars is nice. I enjoyed the pixelated design of the characters and the use of blacks and purples to give the attack animations a more neon aesthetic. The music is also a highlight, with each track being just as catchy as the one before it as you navigate different themed areas. The game itself can get pretty long, with a runtime of about 8 – 10 hours, which comes with its share of repetitive enemy encounters and gameplay systems. So, it’s best to play through this game in small bites unless you’re honing your speedrunning skills.


Soulvars is fast and addictive, but the repetitive nature of the gameplay and the limited tutorials makes experiencing the best parts of this game more effort than they’re worth. It has the style and energy to keep your attention for a few moments, but it doesn’t last when the character writing and world-building lay in an optional encyclopedia than in the game’s story. Still, this game is all about speed and combat, and it delivers in that regard.

A review copy of the title was provided by the publisher for review purposes

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Azario Lopez

Hanging out max, relaxing all cool.