SoulWorker is an anime-styled MMO from South Korean developer Lion Games. It's hugely popular, with the gorgeous character designs inspiring a huge following by artists across the globe, it's successfully captured a dedicated and passionate global fanbase. Available through Steam, the game features regular themed updates (Halloween, Christmas etc) with new quests, costumes and items available to those with the time to dive in and lose themselves in this fascinating virtual world.
Enter the Void
The story centres on children who were lost to a realm called "the Void" 15 years ago who have now returned with supernatural powers and dubbed SoulWorkers. Their mission is to safeguard humanity from the demon entities released by the Void using their unique abilities.
These abilities are assigned to nine classes represented by nine distinct characters, with seven of these being female. The designs are quite spectacular, and it'd be easy to select one based on looks alone, but the game does allow customisation of hair/eye colour and other basic traits before encouraging you to win new items - or just buy them in the cash shop. It might be worth a bit of research to figure out which character will play in a style you're most comfortable with before being swayed by how cute the protagonists are...
As a complete newbie to the game, I was pleased to see that you were given a solid tutorial that cover fighting and movement within the confines of the story. I picked Ephnel as my character, with decent range and a very cool, almost Neptunia-style appearance, I felt I'd enjoy playing the game with her.
Once acclimatised, you're dropped into a hub, where you can speak with other players or NPC's, the latter of which will set you tasks to complete in order to progress your level on take on increasingly touch challenges. If you accept these, you'll be transported to a new area with foes to defeat and prizes to win. The constantly evolving nature of the game does mean that unless you spend your life in the Void, you'll almost always have new and interesting things to do. As a filthy causal dipping in and out, I very much enjoyed exploring what was new as well as fighting my way through the game.
In order to keep you invested, the game will give you gifts for playing over periods of time, or logging in regularly. I can see how this can become addictive, so make sure you have lots of time available to play if you want to make the most of the game and what it has to offer.
One of the things that most impressed was the community within the game - relaxed and friendly, I was pleased on looking around to see that this wasn't just my experience. The SoulWorker community has one of the best reputations I've ever seen, and the game's recent disconnect from GameForge seems to have done wonders for the game's reputation too, not least because it's considered so wallet-friendly now; you have to buy in-game currency to buy items, but they're actually quite reasonably priced and you don't NEED to pay to win, I specifically didn't buy anything for this article and I didn't feel impeded or penalised for my thrifty ways. That's not to say I don't have my eye on a few things once my schedule frees up over Christmas...
In terms of what you'll need to get started, a decent PC with a Steam account is a must; I'm not a big PC gamer, happily my 2013 Mac Pro workhorse has 64Gb of Memory and a 2 x AMD FirePro D500 graphics cards (running Windows via Bootcamp), which aren't what you'd call current, but in the day they were utterly insane and still hold up for PC Gaming today - so the game runs smoothly in a decent resolution. Since the system is my main coding and video editing rig, I was pleasantly surprised it still had some fight left in it!
In fact the only limitation of my enjoyment of the game is also a strength of the game, and that's the regular updates. When these occur, they're around 2Gb per round, and on my garden office connection, that can be a real slog. I have to set it off overnight, and that can be very annoying when you fancy a quick fight but can't get in because you've got a massive download waiting for you. Serious PC gamers won't have this issue I'm sure, it but it did mar my enjoyment by causing some frustration - entirely justifiable in the context of the game, but irritating nonetheless.
Are you a SoulWorker?
So ultimately who is SoulWorker for? First and foremost, for people with more time than I have generally. It can be a time-sink, but that's not a negative. Between running a company, this website and managing a 2 year-old, SoulWorker is ultimately a luxury my advanced years don't really allow for. But having set aside the time, it's a hugely enjoyable game that feels fair in the way progression is managed, and cared for by the development team who clearly lavish a great deal of love on the constant updates and interactions with the community.
There are a lot of MMO's doing the rounds these days, but if you love anime and want a great experience, I can't think of a better place to start than SoulWorker.