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Review by: Jonathan Houghton
Published: August 19, 2000
Every so often an attempt is made in the digital entertainment industry to fuse fundamental aspects of several genres into a single game. The results of such experiments in the past have been mixed, ranging from the mediocre Daikatana to the widely acclaimed Deus Ex, which successfully fused first-person action with role-playing and adventure elements. In a bid to create a similarly genre-bending title, Infogrames has allied with Interplay to deliver Soulbringer to American shores.
Soulbringer immerses would-be adventurers in a rich history of events, ranging from the creation of the fictional world of Rathenna to its impending destruction. In the first age, Rathenna faced great evil in the form of the Dark Warlock. Out of time’s shadow came Berek Silvermane, a hero who defeated this ominous figure and ushered in an age of peace. Silvermane then formed a league of powerful heroes to study magic and protect the land. Exploring the most potent forces the universe had to offer came with a terrible price, however. In their research, the council accidentally summoned a powerful group of demons called Revenants, who quickly possessed the greatest heroes of the land. For years the Revenants laid waste to everything in their path until one of their kindred betrayed them, seeking a way to overthrow Skorn, the most powerful of them all. The means to overthrow the demon-lords was found in a young man named Harbinger, who was born gifted in the arts of magic. Harbinger developed and focused the most powerful magic and artifacts in Rathenna, banishing the Revenants one by one into the Well of Souls. In the well the Revenants would be bound, unable to trouble the world. In the act of banishing Skorn, Harbinger himself disappeared, and the remains of ancient empires eventually ruled Rathenna. True evil can never be completely overcome, it seems, and it is into a world of awakening darkness that you must set foot, following in the footsteps of Harbinger to become the hope of the world. You must become the Soulbringer.
The RPG elements in Soulbringer are similar in many ways to those found in Interplay’s Fallout series, despite the lack of character creation. Experience is gained for quests completed and enemies killed. At each new level, players are awarded points to allocate into any one of the primary character statistics, which include Combat, Strength, Speed, Magic and Health. Of these, Combat is the only non-standard RPG statistic, allowing players to learn new moves for each weapon as the skill is enhanced. Strength determines basic damage and the hero’s weight capacity. Speed establishes your rate of attack and defensive capability. Magic relates directly to mana points, and Health determines Hit Points. Since it is impossible to depend completely on either Combat or Magic alone to defeat the Revenants, players will need to maintain balanced characters.
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