Bleach: Brave Souls is a free-to-play action game set in the Bleach. It’s English version has just been released on Apple iOS and Android devices. Given that it is a freemium venture, there’s really only one question to ask. What’s the cost? Fortunately, it actually isn’t too high. Much like another KLab Global game, Love Live! School Idol Festival, you can get a lot out of Bleach: Brave Souls without paying.
People control a team of three characters from the Bleach universe in Bleach: Brave Souls. In the Story mode, this means following Ichigo’s adventures from the very beginning, going through levels that you’ll probably be able to beat in about three minutes. In each, you have to take out enemies and a boss. A paper-scissor-rock element is in play, with each character and enemy having an element tied to them. Characters can be leveled up, and there’s a Soul Tree for advancing development.
The freemium element comes into play a few ways. Everyone starts with Ichigo as a character. He’s not great, being a two star fighter. Each character has a rating assigned to them, which can be above five stars. To recruit more characters, you need at least 25 Spirit Orbs for a random grab that adds another party member to your roster. That’s the in-app currency, with the price starting at $0.99 for six. Sounds like quite a deterrent, right? Not exactly.
People start out with 60 Spirit Orbs. That’s enough to add two extra characters to your team. Which is really all you need for a full team. My two freebies were Byakuya and Gin. Additional Spirit Orbs are doled out via special login events or by completing tasks or missions in the Story or other modes. You get one Spirit Orb for each completed Story Mode mission or visual novel segment. By the end of my 20 minute play session, I had earned enough orbs for a fourth party member, who turned out to be Yumichika. None of the characters were over three stars, but each were competent enough.
Spirit Orbs can also be used to increase characters’ stats on their Soul Trees in Bleach: Brave Souls. These upgrades are less expensive than a new character. You have to have acquired certain items of specific colors, as well as Spirit Orbs or Crystals/Coins. If you go the Orb route, it could be 1 Spirit Orb to increase the selected stat. Stats also naturally grow as characters earn experience from going on missions, though people who want to save time can spend Spirit Orbs to level them up as well. Again, it’s not a high cost and, honestly, I think someone would be fine avoiding spending real cash here. It feels like something you’d only have to focus on if you were going to be competitive and get into the competitive multiplayer.
While character and skill acquisition are the two places where I could really see someone spending real money, there’s one other area that might be tempting. There’s an energy limit in Bleach: Brave Souls. You can only do five missions before you have to wait for them to recharge. This happens over time. I could see someone being tempted to expend Spirit Orbs to refill energy, but doubt it’ll really be necessary. Missions are meaty enough to make a five mission play session last about 20-30 minutes. Given that this is a mobile game, devoting that much time at once might be outside of its nature.
The real hazard here is memory-related. Don’t let the initial, 92MB file size fool you, though. While Bleach: Brave Souls is hoping to get some money out of you, it’s really out for your device’s memory. The initial download brings the size up to 905MB on Apple iOS devices, and it seems like one of those that will have regular updates that continually increase the amount of space it occupies.
Bleach: Brave Souls is tempting. The appeal of acquiring new characters is going to be difficult to overcome. Especially since there is a great cast, and it’s a random grab. But, it’s also a game that’s fairly liberal with Spirit Orbs initially. You really only need three characters to start, and only people who plan to get competitive in Versus or spend weeks or months playing will probably ever have to consider putting real money into the game. It’s very well executed, and I’d recommend it to any fan.