There’s nothing more I love than a good FPS, and I believe we’re in the golden age of shooters where developers have merged practically every genre with traditional shooters to create something unique. Roguelite shooters aren’t a new thing, and I’ve enjoyed my time with Roboquest, Deadlink, and Void Bastards, so I’m always on the lookout for something similar. Soulslinger: Envoy of Death is another shooter in that space, and I had a chance to try out its early-access release. Here are my first impressions of what I’ve played so far.
Death Is a Cool Dude
In Soulslinger, you follow the titular character who has died in a car crash and is now stuck in limbo, unable to move on. Thankfully, Death had a job open, and you’re the perfect fit for it. Death’s portrayal is a lot more empathetic than usual, and he’s a less angry version of Death from Darksiders. You are pitted against “The Cartel”, that are tampering with souls of the dead, making them harder to pass on to the afterlife.
I like the premise and appreciate how the story progresses with narrative and character moments sprinkled between each run. The writing is a bit on the nose at times and lacks brevity. All dialogue is voice-acted, and there’s clear effort put into bringing the characters to life. There are a bunch of cutscenes present as well, and while I don’t think the world is as interesting and feels played out at this point, I do like the characters I’ve met so far.
Shooting Skeletons In Empty Rooms
Soulslinger’s gameplay loop is pretty simple. You go into a level, shoot some skeletons, choose the next level with a specific reward/encounter, and move to the next one until you die, or fight a boss. You earn currency to unlock permanent upgrades and crafting material to create new weapons and charms. During the run, you’ll get different abilities that change the way you fight, move, or defend yourself.
If you’ve played a rogue-lite in the past 5 years, you know what you’re getting into. It’s enjoyable enough, but it’s not doing anything particularly special to stand out. The gunplay itself is responsive, but guns feel a bit light and lack the weight you’d expect from revolvers and shotguns.
The skeleton army you fight looks a bit generic and normally doesn’t pose a threat. They sometimes get stuck in different elements of the level and go flying off randomly when you shoot them. The melee attack is really slow and doesn’t have the impact I’d like to see. Levels have a nice Western aesthetic, but the way enemies spawn in each makes them feel quite empty.
Overall, there is a lot of room for improvement here. I’m still interested to see how the game evolves mechanically throughout its early access period. The actual gunplay and movement feel quite nice, but combat encounters tend to get boring after a few runs.
Presentation and Performance
This is an Unreal Engine title, and it looks decent for the most part. The hub world is quite detailed, and there’s some nice lighting in a few areas. The levels are a bit of a mixed bag, and even though this is limbo, many of the elements placed in each level feel like you’re walking around on a film set, rather than an actual location.
Even though this is an Unreal Engine game, I’m pleased to report that there is a shader compilation screen at the start. I didn’t run into any stuttering issues throughout my playthrough. You’ll get the occasional traversal stutter occasionally, but nothing egregious.
Overall, I think Soulslinger: Envoy of Death is a fun enough roguelite shooter, if not a tad bit generic. The roguelite elements ensure there’s a real sense of progression with new abilities and weapons to craft. The core gunplay is decent, and I like the characters, but combat encounters need some work for me to come back to it. There’s a lot of potential here for an even better shooter, and I’m glad to see developers already taking feedback on Steam discussions.
We hope you enjoyed reading through our first impressions of Soulslinger: Envoy of Death. You can get it on Steam at the following link.
This preview is based on the PC version of Soulslinger: Envoy of Death. The key was provided by Headup Publishing.