Format: XBox Live Indie Games
Approximate Time Spent playing at time of writing: 4 hours
Modes of play: Single Player
Soul tests only one skill directly – accurate movement with the left thumbstick. Indirectly your reactions and memorisation of the layout of levels will also help you. However despite it’s simplicity (and short length) it is delivered in a stylish way – and one that felt slightly original to me at least. It is also one of the few games to ever actually make me jump out of my skin a few times whilst playing, which is rare as I tend to be extremely calm when I’m gaming, and unaffected by any normal ‘horror’ tactics. Soul however managed this feat admittedly by using cheap “shock” tactics at the perfect time when you are really concentrating hard on something else, but I thought this was a nice touch. I was initially put off by the lack of checkpoints and not being able to save my progress, which is a shame because otherwise this would be a great “play it when you have 5 minutes” title. However I discovered on Normal I was able to finish the game in about an hour anyway when I sat down to dedicate some time to it, so as long as you are aware of this, it arguably doesn’t need level saves/checkpoints, although it will depend on your skill level and if you can dedicate a chunk of time to playing, as to how reasonable this design decision is.
I enjoyed that even on Normal the challenge level was quite tough, yet always appeared achievable for me – inducing a decent state of flow for my level of skill. Hardcore however right now looks completely off the charts for me in terms of difficulty, because it gives you extremely limited lives AND introduces a very stringent time pressure as well. However I may come back and try this from time to time, and if I do find that happening, I may have cause to re-review this. There’s also an easier difficulty which maybe at a better level for some players. Whilst it’s good to have the multiple difficulty levels Hardcore is such a HUGE leap more difficult than Normal, it would be much better for me if it offered more gradients of challenge. So as a puzzle/challenge, it’s shallow, quite short, but luckily for me, pitched at a very good difficulty on “Normal”, but I could really do with something that was a smaller step up in challenge after that, as Hardcore mode is just extremely punishing and challenging – so far I’ve only made it through about 4-5 screens (levels) at best.
Soul REALLY misses having Achievements to prove you’ve completed it and also leaderboards etc. because this would also enable some actual game aspect to it. Indie devs have now started to use online leaderboard style systems though, and some games have been patched to retroactively apply them, so, whilst it’s unlikely, there’s even a chance that this title may get some form of upgrade in future.
Competitive Gaming Design Review: N/A
Competitive Game Review: N/A
Interactive Story: Neutral
Toy/Experience: Highly Positive
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