Although these crystals will drop randomly during most missions — as well as earned via daily rewards — the foremost method of obtaining these will be Kisuke Uruhara’s daily training-courses, with the focus upon a different crystal-type for each day of the week. These missions are always repeatable to your heart’s content — as least so long as you have the necessary Soul-Tickets on-hand — and feature enemies whom only drop the promised item, and as such are vastly expedient compared to virtually anything else. Furthermore, these training-ground missions — at least for the first-time each of them are attempted — additionally serve as yet another source of those valuable aforementioned Soul-Orbs (which can optionally be used to max-out a Soul-Tree node in lieu of crystals).
The last two ways a character can be empowered involve Soul-Linking them to someone else (which — unlike Fusion — doesn’t destroy the character-involved), alongside the equipping of accessories. Each character begins with a single Soul-Link slot — although, depending on their star-level, more of these may be unlocked by maxing out their Soul-Tree — and this slot may be filled with any of your currently unused characters. Each character in Bleach: Brave Souls has a special Soul-Link perk they impart to others when linked, and the power of this trait can be increased through their own specific Soul-Tree.
Accessories — on the other hand — are various items from the Bleach universe, such as the Soul-Candy Dispenser, each of which contain the ability to provide some form of percentage-based ability-enhancement. These can be obtained either via mission rewards, or by being purchased for fifteen Soul-Orbs each (warning — unlike character Gachapon — you can easily get tons of 1-star accessories in this manner). These may furthermore have — much like Bleach: Brave Souls’ various heroes — other accessories fused into them to increase their level, thus jacking-up their effect’s enhancement-percentage.
One thing worth pointing out is that these accessories — which can only be equipped on a single hero at any given moment, will provide double their listed-effect if placed on someone with a matching primary-attribute. Beyond determining who will get the biggest bonus from an accessory, these primary-attributes — which never change — determine which monsters a specific hero will best perform against. This results in a sort of lopsided game of Rock-Paper-Scissors, but thankfully there’s always a helpful color-coded cheat-sheet atop your screen (especially since these affinity-icons are otherwise untranslated).
Now at this point you’re probably wondering what those Soul-Tickets I previously mentioned are all about, so I’ll finally take a moment to explain Bleach: Brave Souls’ energy-system. Basically put, you’ll have up-to-five Soul-Tickets — which regenerate at a rate of one every fifteen minutes — with which to start any given mission (with all missions, other than versus-battles, each costing precisely one Soul-Ticket each). Although you can normally only have up-to-five Soul-Tickets on hand, you can temporarily stock well-beyond this whenever you’re given Soul-Tickets as a reward by completing daily-missions (or any other such direct-reward method).
Now this would actually be the part of my review where I start becoming rather-sour in temperament if Bleach: Brave Souls was most other iOS games, because – to put things bluntly — the game isn’t necessarily the most stable. However — under most circumstances — this isn’t too terribly problematic, as the game will nearly always ask if you wish to rejoin whichever stage your were in — at the last checkpoint reached — upon rebooting up. This was an amazingly fresh breath-of-air compared to virtually everything else on the iOS, wherein your spent-energy is commonly lost-forever should something go wrong during a level-attempt.
This did — however — mean I was sadly unable to properly assess the Co-Op Mode in Bleach: Brave Souls, wherein up-to-four players are teamed-up to real-time tackle various challenges. Whereas most missions can be rejoined however many times are needed in order to either finish them, or eventually reach a fail-condition, you obviously can’t rejoin these real-time missions once you crash out of them. That said, I will say that I was quite-impressed with how flawlessly these allowed four people to fight together (at least for however long the app would let me play until my iDevice finally keeled over).
You’d think this would mean I was also unable to properly evaluate the game’s Versus Mode, but this wasn’t actually true (since this particular mode — surprisingly enough — doesn’t actually contain any real-time components). During these both your team — alongside whichever player’s team you chose to go up against — will fight each other via the game’s AI controlling both sides, with players only ordering the use of super-moves. This mode – that uses Battle-Tickets instead of Soul-Tickets (which must be earned via completing daily-missions) — contains a ranking-system, with players able to earn various rewards by moving – and successfully keeping — their team in the game’s higher ranks.
Anyways — as I said near the review’s beginning — this all adds up to quite a compelling game, even if Bleach: Brave Souls might not be quite the most-nuanced Beat’em Up available on the iOS. Specifically the game is a bit more like a Dynasty Warriors game than most other Beat’em Ups, in that you’ll often employ your moves — special, or otherwise — to best manage the hordes constantly being thrown at you. Beyond merely selecting someone with the best element for your current-opponent, you will also need to select your characters based on their attack-arcs and whether they’re short or long-range.
About the only thing I didn’t enjoy about bashing through hundreds of Hollows — Soul Reapers — and Arrancars would probably end up being the game’s quite-deliberate rushed-pacing. Although not always present, most levels in Bleach: Brave Souls have one of their three Soul-Orb challenges asking that players finish the entire affair within just three minutes (keeping everything in-line with a mobile-gaming lifestyle). While I definitely do think mobile-apps should avoid forcing players to go for hours on end, a la Forgotten Memories (our review), I would have preferred these levels were a tad-longer.
With me having just declared that Bleach: Brave Souls works well-enough, other than perhaps the game’s deliberate-brevity, you’re probably now hoping to know more about how players are affected by the game’s IAP-based monetization-scheme (the Soul-Orbs). Although it’s true that dumping big-bucks on Soul-Orbs would definitely ramp-up both your character-fusing and Soul-Tree completion rates, that’s — given some reasonable patience — nowhere near as important as it might initially otherwise sound. While it’s certainly true that you’d eventually deplete all currently available Soul-Orbs from Story-Mode levels and Kisuke-Challenges, there’s other opportunities I haven’t yet touched on.
Every week seems to bring an all new limited-time “special-event” to Bleach: Brave Souls, which basically function as the game’s equivalent to a filler-plot (but thankfully not adapting stuff like the show’s dreaded Bount-arc). These special-events tend to feature six whole stages, each of which contains their own unique Soul-Orb challenges, alongside an original plotline created just for KLabGames’ Beat’em Up. Beyond offering players access to thirty additional Soul-Orbs each week, these also tend to have rare characters that can show up in their mysterious-packages if one repeatedly grinds them.
Furthermore, players freshly starting out won’t need to worry that their low-level characters might prove no-match against the often-mighty end-bosses featured in these special-events. That’s because — in a move similar to games such as Neo Monsters (our review) — you’ll be able to bring along someone else’s lead-character, although their mighty-warrior will only aid you during the mission’s boss-fight (and do so via the AI). Afterwards both you and that player will each receive 10 heart-points, which — once enough of them have first been collected — can then be exchanged for a random assortment of colored-crystals.
These special-event plots — by the way — are presented in much the same manner as Bleach: Brave Souls’ primary Story-Mode, which is to say they’re delivered in a Visual Novel format. Speaking of the game’s visual-presentation, all of the in-game 3D models — for either generic enemies, or playable characters — feature an art-style that is somewhere between full-scale and super-deformed. One thing I rather liked is that variant-characters often portray different arcs; such that one 5-star Kenpachi has a special where he removes his eye-patch, yet another 5-star exists where he wields his Zanpakuto with both hands.
Finally — in closing — can one even truly hate a game where Aizen and Kenpachi get to team-up against the greatest threat ever known: Kon (except for fan-fiction, that is, but then you’d probably have to deal with them inexplicably making-out afterwards)?
KLabGames’ Bleach: Brave Souls – while perhaps not the most heavily-nuanced Beat’em Up available on the iOS (that would likely be Brandnew Boy) – is certainly the most Bleach character-roster jam-packed, and also a fully-decent Beat’em Up in its own right. The game is aided by tight-controls – a non-aggressive IAP-based monetization-scheme – and more Bleach characters than you can shake a stick at, although hurt a bit by levels rarely being as long as you might otherwise prefer (yet perfect for quick bursts of play). Those on older iDevices should be fully-warned that Bleach: Brave Souls isn’t exactly the most stable app on things such as the iPod Touch 5, but this is tempered by the fact that Bleach will always let you pick-up where you crashed (except during Co-Op play).