It can be a bit of an understatement to say Bleach is a successful manga series. Created by Tite Kubo the story revolves around the short-tempered and strong-willed Ichigo Kurosaki and his adventures as a Soul Reaper (Shinigami) and with so much acclaim it spawned into different mediums. Like many franchises the manga was adapted into an anime, musical, trading card game, light novels, and naturally video games. Bleach Brave: Souls is a recently published mobile game based on the anime for iOS and Android devices. At the moment, of this review the game’s story is currently on The Arrancar Arc with more content to come, but the game so far is a bit fun nonetheless.
Starting with the Home screen you’ll see your usual currency for mobile games. Soul Tickets act as the game energy to play the quests which will recharge in 15 minutes each with a default minimum of five tickets, and it’s also worth noting that if you suddenly quit your game during a quest. You’ll pick up in the zone where you left off without using another ticket, so you won’t get ripped off if you suddenly experienced a crash. Coins are used for various actions which you will run out of quickly if you don’t plan ahead. Friend Points are a type of currency that you earn by either recruiting friends/guests’ leader character to fight a boss with or having your leader chosen by them.
The final type of currency are the Spirit Orbs and these are the most important part of the system in this game. Not only are these balls of spiritual energy used to purchase a Summon (buy a random character.) and accessories from the shop but can be exchanged for more Soul Tickets and Coins. And that gives you another go in the game if your team falls, and the spirit orbs also work as a substitute for coins and stat crystals to use on Soul Trees. You can buy more with cash starting with six orbs for $0.99, but they start to get expensive at the very next interval, which is 25 for $3.99. When you do earn them by completing quests or receiving them as daily login gifts, hold onto your balls as if your waifu’s life depends on it.
The rest of the home comes equipped with a Friends menu to find friends, an Inventory menu to manage everything from characters to accessories as well as fusing accessories together, Orders from Rukia’s Soul Pager for challenges, Gifts you earn from quests and events (better get them immediately instead of before they expire because that’s where all the Spirit Orbs you earn from the quests go.), the shop and Kon’s Corner (where Friend Points are spent.), and the Edit menu to handle your characters. There’re also chat rooms accessible from the Home screen. And that makes it possible for you to talk to other players about in-game tips, Co-Op meets, befriending, or just have a conversation about Bleach in general.
Character has a bit of depth in it but nothing too confusing. Each character has an Attribute, a Soul Tree, and a Soul Trait, though special moves are limited to three Star and above ones. Editing teams is just as easy as dragging your favorite from the roster to the team slot, though it is best to go for a theme because that’ll give you’re a Team Effect. The Soul Tree is used to improve stats accustomed to that certain character. Aside from improving their stat sheet you can also unlock additional bonuses. Under Augment you can put them through Ascension by fusing them with another character, increasing their level caps. You could also equip an accessory and Character Link under this section as well. Accessories will add a stat bonus, and Character Links will pass a non-team character’s Soul Trait to the one you’re equipping.
The main game has three modes: Story, Brave Battles, and Co-Op. Story mode plays through the events of the game where more arcs will unlock as you complete each Part. The gameplay of this mode is an isotopic beat’em up. And before the quests starts, the preparation screen is shown. Which allows you to select your team, stats to boost (preferably used with a weaker team), EXP boosters, and friend/guest characters for bosses. This is also where you can collect items from crates such as stat crystals though it’s best to do crystal farming, or any kind of farming for that matter, on the Daily Training Sessions under Events. There are stamina recovery items and Soul Bombs in some of these crates as well. However, the Soul Bombs are truly rare, so you might want to hold on the one you start with until you fight the boss or face a dangerous situation on Very Hard modes.
Brave Battles is the Vs mode of the game that uses its own type of tickets (Battle Passes), though the gameplay is different from the rest of the game. The characters will do the fighting themselves while you select who will use a Special and when. Your team will fight according to one of the three methods you choose: Attack, Special (one will stop and go for the crate), and Attribute (Strength/Weakness lineup). Since Brave Battles are three on three having a simple input, such as battles in Yo-Kai Watch, makes it less frustrating. By participating in Brave Battles you put yourself into one of three leader boards with a rank and earn a weekly salary of Rare Medals you can use to exchange for special characters and items.
The last mode is Co-Op, which is similar to Story but allows 2 to 4 players to participate live for a quest. Communication between players is done by Set phrases, which will fly across the screen to let your fellow players whom you need backup, healing, or just wanted to say “Nice!” while getting beaten by a boss. All items collected are awarded to each player. However, stamina recovery items and Soul Bombs are given to those who get to those crates first. The game lobby is similar to ones as seen with Starcraft II and others, which include private room settings and player level expectations (Anyone, Beginner, or Expert). Players can also enter a game by punching in the Room Number and password. Since game rooms are done in this fashion, you could round-up a few friends and have a Co-Op session while using voice chat for better coordination.
The graphics are quite good for a mobile game. While the quest zones’ designs are basic, the details are pleasant to look at. The areas in the game are based on the anime and while the zones repeat for many of the quests. Nevertheless, it does establish that you’re fighting in the same locale, giving a sense of some continuity. Character models are a bit on the short side compared to the full-size designs, but it doesn’t go chibi or too cartoonish that it can’t be taken serious. The small statured models work for a mobile game with the cell shading allowing them to stand out and stylize. Their designs are accurate to what is seen from the franchise, and the animations match their personalities and fighting style.
The in-game music tracks are on par for both mood of the game and with the genre of the anime. The song from the opening video, Hyakki Yagyou by Hello Sleepwalkers, goes well with the anime’s aesthetic and gets you ecstatic to play this game. The menu music, on the other hand, is a nice simple tune that is calming enough for you get ready for the next quest. The voice acting is all Japanese, who seem to match their characters with little voice effects (such as the one used for White Ichigo’s creepy demon voice) giving them a bit more character.
The controls use simple mapping for buttons in combination of sliding. Menus buttons are straightforward and function the way they should though it is tedious to go from character to character by going out of one sheet to another. During quests, there are individual buttons for normal and strong attacks and a Special move. Holding down the normal attack button will cause your character to attack repeatedly so you don’t have to wear out your thumb trying to go for a high combo. Movement is done by holding down one point and then sliding across the screen in the direction you want to move while dodging is performed by quick swipes in a direction.
There is plenty of space on the screen to use the interface, but if you’re having any problems with that, you can simply set the controls to Auto. By setting your character to Auto they will move along the path while attacking everything. You can still put some input in such as dodging or using a strong attack but if your character is strong enough they can just plow through the course with no interaction, which kind of kills the point of playing.
+ Play with your favorite characters and build a team around them.
+ Easy to pick up and play.
+ Based on the story from the beginning so it won’t alienate those new to Bleach.
+ Spirit Orbs can make the game more accessible.
+ Can Data Link to Google Play and Facebook accounts to play on multiple devices or upload on a replacement.
– Can easily burn through Spirit Orbs.
– Using Auto along with powerful characters can defeat the purpose of playing.
Bleach Brave Souls is a fun mobile game for both fans and newcomers of the franchise, as the game offers an open experience in both gameplay and lore. That being said it is, like other games, easy to blow time, effort, and resources on common to rare characters when powerful ones (the 4 and 5 star rarity characters) get little leveling and strengthening because the lower ones got most of it. However, with a bit of patience and planning you can get your favorites are powerful characters, build a fun team, and in the end, you can feel like number one.
Title: Bleach: Brave Souls
Developer: KLab Games
Genre: 3D Action
Resolution: Depends on device
Release date: 2016-01-13
Difficulty: Normal to Very Hard (Difficulty Settings)
Spent time: 5+ hours
Average grade internationally: N/A Gamerankings.com (at the moment of writing this review)
PEGI/ESRB age rating: PEGI 12+/Teen
Price: Free (Ingame Store)
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