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BLEACH: Brave Souls Review

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There is no shortage of free to play games currently available on the Xbox Store. Largely they are of no great interest to me, so I leave them alone, but every now and then one of them does pique my interest – and so it is the case with the subject of this review, BLEACH: Brave Souls. Does what it says on the tin, I guess!

Coming from KLab, the game attempts to bring all the action and story from Tite Kubo’s hit manga and anime TV series to the console world. 

BLEACH Brave Souls review 1
BLEACH: Brave Souls is free to play

First off, an admission – I had never heard of BLEACH before spying BLEACH: Brave Souls on the Xbox Store, so I’ve had to do a bit of on the job training, as it were, to attempt to sound like I know what I’m talking about. 

From what I can gather, there are evil spirits called Hollows, drawn to people with strong spiritual pressure. Fighting Hollows are a group of warriors called Soul Reapers, and these are seemingly always fighting in the Human world. One night, a Soul Reaper called Rukia meets a young man called Ichigo, and ends up giving him her power so he can defeat a Hollow. This is apparently frowned upon, and so the story goes from there. And yes, it does get weirder and weirder as we go, taking in a woman who can turn into a cat and various other characters. 

Presentation of the game is pretty good. Obviously, not being a mega fan of the manga, I can’t say if the representations of the various characters are bang on or not, but they look pretty good to me! They are presented in a kind of super deformed style (think Funko Pop style and you won’t be far off) and the animation works well. 

One thing I have to mention though is the user interface, or UI. BLEACH: Brave Souls is clearly ported from a mobile game and not a lot of thought has gone into the conversion. The clearest evidence is when we are invited to “Tap screen” at the end of each mission, and I’ve tapped my TV to no avail as I’ve played on Xbox. Navigating the various menus and sub screens is also quite tricky, with a kind of glowing cursor that we can steer around, but an annoying lack of continuity in the buttons – sometimes the X button is used to accept something, other times it is used to exit a screen, so you constantly have to be paying attention. Once we are in a mission, this is not a major issue, however. 

BLEACH Brave Souls review 2
Feels confusing

The sound and audio is seemingly lifted straight from the anime, with various moves being called out and other bits of dialogue scattered around. The battle sounds are all as you’d expect, and all in all, the overall effect is pretty good. 

So what of the actual game itself – what is that like? Well, it is split into two halves, as is usual with games these days. There are quests, either story, sub story or any of the other missions that become available as you level up and there is the combat side which features Vs battles against other players in the Arena and so called Brave Battles, where you can pit your team against others in a league style format. 

And then there is all the rest – organising your team, getting new members and so on and so forth. I’ll deal with the second facet first, and from the main screen there seems to be a plethora of things to do. We can edit our team, swapping members into or out of our three strong squad that heads off on missions. And not only that, we can power each of the members up. I’ll be frank, I could have done with more of a tutorial on this, as I’m just randomly pressing things and seeing what happens, but obviously having a stronger character or three fighting makes the game easier. You can also summon new characters, either by spending gems that you get for beating missions, or for free once  a day. There are some truly odd looking people in the BLEACH universe, I’m not going to lie, and seeing them added to the roster is good fun. 

There are also various rewards you can claim for not only logging in, but for completing actions in missions. Again, these aren’t massively well explained. 

BLEACH Brave Souls review 3
The enjoyment comes from the story

Still, once you choose to take on a quest (read: combat mission) then things get a bit easier to understand. There is a level that you need to make your way through (generally two stages of weak enemies), before finding and defeating a boss at the end. BLEACH: Brave Souls is proudly cross-platform, and usually in the boss stage of a mission, you will be joined by another player to help kill them. What this means in practice is that the person who joins has been playing the game non-stop since it launched, and the boss is down before you have a chance to move. This is great in a way, as it makes things easy, but does rob some of the satisfaction out of beating a stage. 

The rest of the combat side of BLEACH: Brave Souls is pretty much the same, with the Arena being a pit of vastly overleveled people who rinse you in about three seconds flat. Bitter? Me? Never. The Brave Battles are a little better, as long as you reconstruct your team as for some reason the squad you have spent so much time building isn’t put into the league battles for you. 

You should enjoy BLEACH: Brave Souls, but much of that will be down to the story and being keen to see where it goes next. You see, the rest of the time, the game feels a bit scrappy, a bit of a rushed conversion. There is fun here, but BLEACH: Brave Souls is far from the most polished game you’ll ever play.

SUMMARY

Pros:
  • Interesting story
  • Combat is quite good fun
  • Building a team is satisfying
Cons:
  • UI is woeful
  • Conversion is patchy
  • Tutorials are lacking
Info:
  • Massive thanks for the free copy of the game, TXH
  • Formats - Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One (review), PS4, PS5, PC
  • Release date and price - 27 June 2024 | £Free
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<b>Pros:</b> <ul> <li>Interesting story</li> <li>Combat is quite good fun</li> <li>Building a team is satisfying</li> </ul> <b>Cons:</b> <ul> <li>UI is woeful</li> <li>Conversion is patchy</li> <li>Tutorials are lacking</li> </ul> <b>Info:</b> <ul> <li>Massive thanks for the free copy of the game, TXH</li> <li>Formats - Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One (review), PS4, PS5, PC <li>Release date and price - 27 June 2024 | £Free</li> </ul>BLEACH: Brave Souls Review
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