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).

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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.

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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).

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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).

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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.

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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.

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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)?

Verdict

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).

'Bleach: Brave Souls' Review: Bountiful Bankai!
Solid controlsExcellent use of Bleach’s vast rosterNon-aggressive IAP-scheme
Not very stable on older devicesMost levels are admittedly rather short
4.5Amazing
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