Divine Souls, published by Outspark, reminds me of Vindictus in far too many ways. I only question which came first and whether more fighting games like the two are coming in the future. While I have had a lot of love for Vindictus since its release, I also have had enough issues with it that I had to stop playing it much at all. While I will save that for another article, I can use the popular Nexon release to illustrate what is wrong and right about Divine Souls. More of Massively's readers are probably familiar with Vindictus, so that will be a good point of comparison.

Think of Divine Souls as Vindictus' uglier little cousin. Granted, Vindictus is a supermodel, so that makes Divine Souls just an average beautiful person, but it should still be noted. Also, both games pit players against hordes of enemies -- massive swarms of baddies that die in spectacular ways. Well, spectacular when you see them for the first few times. After that it becomes pretty repetitive.

Join me past the cut and let's talk about what I liked and didn't like about Divine Souls. Don't worry, there are no baddies to jump you.

Repetitive is a good word to sum up a lot of my experience in Divine Souls. As in Vindictus, the similar enemies and grinding should be offset by the sheer joy of seeing evil creatures dispatched in such over-the-top ways, and while that is true most of the time in Vindictus, in Divine Souls it sort of falls flat. I believe that in an attempt to make the game a tiny download able to run on a less-than-robust system, the developers kept out the amazing physics and special effects that you might see in Vindictus. There are some great take-downs that are triggered with a simple button-push, but those were rare during my time with the game.

I can appreciate Outspark's effort, for sure. Divine Souls does run better than Vindictus, and I had no disconnects or network slowdowns with Divine Souls like I did with Vindictus. Also, despite not being as graphically robust as Vindictus, Divine Souls is still very pretty -- downright gorgeous in some areas, actually. However, in a lot of ways, the beautiful environments only torture players because they cannot freely explore them. What's that? An awesome forest, filled with possible dangers and treasure? Sorry, buddy... stick to the path and go where the developers tell you to go.

While I can accept being on rails in a game that is so obviously not about free exploration or immersive roleplay, it would still be nice to spread out a bit more or to at least use the environment against baddies as you can in Vindictus. Perhaps I missed the dungeon or special area that allows this to happen, but using the level 25 character that was loaned to me, I found no such environment as I played through quests of all levels.

Being level 25 out of the box was helpful in a lot of ways. It showed me how powerful one can feel up against level 7 meanies when you are sporting a level 25 powerfist, but more importantly it showed me how quests from all levels compared to each other. I ran around the town pulling in whatever quests I could find, and when I looked at each one -- from low levels to my current level -- every one was essentially a "go kill this" or "go get that from something you kill" quest. Every single one.

There are a couple ways of looking at this. First, we know that the game is meant to be a dungeon fighter, a sort of monster-smashing joyride, with all the depth that it entails. You are supposed to get in, kill a lot of stuff with your friends, and get out. Fine -- Divine Souls does that, and it does it wonderfully.

Or we can look at it as one massive grind: a non-stop punch-fest through literally thousands of enemies. Why on Earth would someone want to do that? Why would a player want to grind through levels and levels of dungeons and monsters only to continue to do it again? For the life of me I cannot remember the main storyline of Divine Souls -- and should I care? After all, if I have the ability to click accept on a quest without ever having read the quest text and still be able to finish said quest just by killing more bad guys, then why should I care why I am doing it?

I admire Divine Souls in the same way I admire Vindictus. I normally hate to compare games simply because social interactions, lore and setting can make up all the differences between the two, but the two games are so similar in so many ways. Even the limitations and gender-locked classes are there -- much to my annoyance -- but the cash shop definitely makes up for it. Think what you will about virtual purchases, but if you are going to be paying money for a virtual item, it needs to look as cool as it does in Divine Souls. Of course, I cannot stomach the time-locked items, but even so, they look incredible, and not all items have such limits.

So if you want a free-to-play fighter that will often blow your socks off, go for Divine Souls. If you had issues running Vindictus or dealing with network issues or lag, try Divine Souls. It's a tiny download and will run on many different setups.

Pros
  • Excellent, fast-paced combat
  • Enemies can be very challenging
  • Beautiful game that's easy to run
  • Cash shop offers a lot of customization options
  • Small, free download

Cons
  • Combat can be repetitive
  • Enemies can be very challenging
  • Gender-locked, limited classes
  • The world can feel closed in
  • Every quest is some form of "kill ten rats"

This article was originally published on Massively.
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