It’s strange, if you’ve been following SnapThirty and the crew for a while now you’d know that there are a few things we can’t seem to help but hate on, despite the fact that we try as hard as possible to keep a positive attitude about almost all facets of Japanese pop culture. One of those things happens to be the Shonen Jump Manga series Bleach written and illustrated by Tite Kubo; a series that, although we very much enjoyed at the beginning of it’s longer-than-necessary run, we have all come to somewhat despise due to what we consider to be a superfluous continuation of a series that should have ended years ago. Not only that, but the quality simply isn’t the same.
Something else none of us seem to be fans of is that of mobile gaming; a platform that boasts cheap fun but is actually littered with forced advertising and micro-transaction that, without the purchase of some in-game currency, would make the title simply unplayable. It’s strange to that think Bandai Namco Entertainment’s latest mobile title, Bleach: Brave Souls, that mixes both aforementioned dislikes, would bring me a level of joy I had never experienced previously while playing a mobile title.
First of all; what exactly is Bleach: Brave Souls? It’s a fairly standard hack ‘n’ slash title that has you, the player, battle through the story of the famous supernatural Manga Bleach. It’s free to play, and does indeed feature micro-transactions, BUT unlike similar titles, Bleach: Brave Souls allows you the freedom to choose not to purchase while still retaining the ability to actually continue playing through the game.
While there are certain limits on what you can and cannot do without funnelling funds, you wouldn’t necessarily notice it unless you were truly looking. Most things run on a timer that, once it reaches zero, resets and allows you to, once again, partake in the game’s story…but I’ve played the game for almost six hours at this point in time and yet my playthrough has not once been halted due to any money-making mechanic. It is quite a breath of fresh air.
Brave Souls allows you, if you’re lucky enough, to play as almost every character introduced throughout the series. There’s a random drop mechanic that can award you any of the characters featured throughout the game at random Star Ratings that make them more or less powerful. For example; the Three Star Yasutora “Chad” Sado is only able to use his Right Arm Of The Giant, but the Five Star Yasutora “Chad” Sado is able to use that in conjunction with his Left Arm Of The Devil.
While the max level capacity is one-hundred, most low Star Ranking characters will only be able to reach level thirty, but the game gives players the ability to fuse characters, making a character of your choice more powerful, and allowing it a raised level capacity.
Missions are all somewhat short which is actually a benefit because the game covers a great deal of the series’ story, and it also features different difficulty modes that allow you to retry levels for greater item drops. Usually with games like this, the addition of shorter levels means you’re more likely to run out of gameplay time early on, forcing you to buy more in-game currency to continue playing. With Bleach: Brave Souls, I feel as though it gives you more than enough to do while in the cool down period to disguise the fact that you are indeed waiting for a chance to play again.
Brave Souls is a full game disguised heavily as a pay-to-play title, and I feel as though this is truly the way these free-to-play mobile games should be. Chances are, Bandai Namco Entertainment are still making a great deal of money from this title seeing as, despite the fact that it never prompted me to use real-life currency to continue playing, I felt compelled of my own accord to lay some cash into the game for the sake of a greater experience.
The game, as a whole, is also just very much enjoyable, which is something I’ve not mentioned at all up until this point in time, but I feel as though is such a key point in any article talking about a video game. As mentioned; it’s a simple hack ‘n’ slash title, but it reminds me very much of the Japan-only PlayStation Portable title Bleach: Soul Carnival, which I believe this game shares art assets with.
The controls are easy, and unlike most other mobile titles it doesn’t take too much of a toll on your hands while playing for an elongated period of time. It also features all the characters that made the earlier arcs of the series great, so for someone like me it also swells up enormous feelings of nostalgia which, undeniably, help with the overall enjoyment of the game. Regardless, even those who have only recently gotten into the series, for whatever reason, will still gain much enjoyment for Bleach: Brave Souls…especially because it’s free, and it honestly doesn’t ask for much, if anything at all.
Bleach captured my heart many years ago. It told the story of a young man thrust into a world he never knew existed, filled with Samurai-like warriors and skull creatures that threatened not only his existence but the wellbeing of the living world as a whole. After many years, I inevitably grew out of this, not only because of my changing likes and dislikes, but because of the extent to which the series grew, becoming too much of itself to remain the series I once loved, but then Bleach: Brave Souls comes along and reminds me of what it was like all those years ago.
It also happens to feature a simple yet addictive set of gameplay mechanics that make it easy for you to dive into head-first. It’s one of the best Manga/Anime-inspired mobile games to hit the West, and for me personally…it has reminded me that, while things may change, it is best to remember the good times above all else.
Fact is; you simply wont know exactly what I’m talking about until you try it, and the great thing is that it is free. You literally have nothing to lose.