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July 2024

Soulslinger: Envoy Of Death

Platform(s): PC
Genre: First-Person Shooter
Developer: Elder Games


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PC Preview - 'Soulslinger: Envoy of Death'

by Cody Medellin on June 21, 2024 @ 12:00 a.m. PDT

Soulslinger: Envoy of Death is a Western-themed FPS where you're a gunslinger in Limbo fighting a battle versus the evil & soul harvesting Cartel.

The PC platform is flush with roguelites and roguelikes ever since the genre came back into fashion more than a decade ago. The same goes for first-person shooters, and it didn't take long before both genres were mashed together with successful results. Soulslinger: Envoy of Death is the latest game in this combined genre, and we checked it out while it is in Steam Early Access.

You play the role of a Soulslinger, the only name you know since your memories were shattered once you died. You work for Death and must ensure that souls stuck in limbo will reach their final destination. That task is made tougher by the presence of The Cartel, a group that has taken to harvesting souls to gain power and disrupt the balance of the afterlife. In your new role, that means using some old but enchanted firepower to get the job done.

The game follows the blueprint of both genres. On the roguelite side, that means that level rooms and their enemy lineups are completely randomized. You may face regular minions mixed with those who have higher leaps, teleportation abilities, or explode on death. All rooms come with some bonus, whether it's in stats or something related to elements, and you have some choice in terms of what kind of temporary boon you'll get next. You can spend coins to buy more boons from a merchant, and death means restarting your run while still possessing some more permanent upgrades if you have the means to acquire them.

The shooting side follows more of a twitch-style shooter, as you move fast by default but require precision to hit targets, depending on the gun you have. You have a jump as well as an active reload, but you don't necessarily get any benefit for that aside from fast reload times. You can only carry two firearms at a time, but you can augment them temporarily with powers, like flaming or poisonous bullets, and you have infinite ammo to work with. Levels are split into arenas, and the objective is to clear out a room of enemies before you can move on to the next fight.

Like the roguelite side of the game, the shooting portion has some quirks. The different stat buffs for your guns don't feel substantially different, as it feels like it takes the same number of shots to kill enemies. Some of the elemental bullets and enchantments that you manually apply have a long enough cooldown that you can forget they exist in the heat of battle. The game employs a system where enemies hit hard, which is fine except for the fact that there are enough moments when you'll get hit and not realize it, so dying seems to come out of nowhere.

Despite those complaints, Soulslinger provides a solid experience for fans of both genres. There's a wide variety of choices when it comes to temporary buffs that determine if you want to keep things at a distance or be a little more daring by dashing in and out of crowds to damage foes. Power up your revolver or shotgun, and you'll deliver a volley of shots that make the game seem like a bullet hell shooter. The speed of the game can be appealing to the boomer shooter crowd, but there's enough depth to please a more modern audience, and the gameplay strikes a good balance. It's one of those games that plays quite well if you're willing to overlook some of its quirks.

As it stands, Soulslinger: Envoy of Death is fine. The twitchy shooting works well with the arena format. The roguelike randomization could use some more stage variety. The game has a high difficulty level that may seem unfair but ensures that it'll take time to make some real progress, and the upgrade system has potential. Nothing stands out when compared to other shooters, but the game is in Early Access, and there's a good deal of time before a projected full release version, so some of the quirks could be addressed before the game is finalized. We're curious to see how development progresses with Soulslinger.

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