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SolSeraph descends from the heavens but may not have stuck the landing

It got a little lost in last week’s flurry of activity, but SolSeraph — ACE Team’s tribute to genre-blending SNES gem ActRaiser — is out, though sadly not heralded by a celestial chorus. Staying close to its inspirations, it’s half hack n’ slash platformer, half real-time strategy about a god reclaiming their land from monsters and demons in the name of their human followers. I’ve not had a chance to play it for myself, but trusted ActRaiser fans and platformer aficionados alike haven’t had much good to say. Perhaps it just wasn’t weird enough for ACE Team? Below, a launch trailer.

Depending on who you ask, either side of SolSeraph is where its weakness lies. Some aren’t too happy with the RTS-lite segments morphing into a tower defence game, and away from ActRaiser’s guiding of villagers towards objectives around the map. Others cite the platforming being not as focused or precise as ActRaiser, and having overly fiddly controls. Given ACE Team’s other games, I was largely expecting that, although I am a little disappointed to see it playing it so straight in terms of art direction. Knights and dragons are so dull after the weird realms of Zeno Clash.

Being a card-carrying ACE Team fan (I’ve been following their work since the start – one of their early Doom mods out-weirds everything they’ve done since), it’s a bit disappointing to hear from trusted folks that this one misses the mark. That said, I still hope to try it out before long. The critical reaction to their previous side-scroller, Abyss Odyssey was muted as well, but I ended up finding a lot to like in its bizarre mix of Chilean folklore, roguelike structure and Smash Bros-style combat. But alas, I cannot find the time to give my thoughts on this yet.

Still, even if this one didn’t quite hit the mark, I’m happy to still see ACE Team around and kicking. Perhaps this one just wasn’t a weird enough concept for them to really run with? I’m hoping that some day we’ll see a return of The Endless Cylinder, which looked positively surreal in all the best ways. As for ActRaiser fans left in the lurch, keep an eye on Smelter by Japanese outfit XPlus. It’s not due out until next year, but its platforming looks deliciously Mega Man X-ish. Although judging by its debut trailer, it’s trying something different with its RTS layer, too. Fingers crossed.

SolSeraph is out now on Steam for £12/€15/$15, and is published by Sega.

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Dominic Tarason

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