“A solid entry that epitomizes the “Games As Art” philosophy”
If you’ve played Braid, then you’ve encountered the “Games As Art” philosophy in full swing – the idea that instead of being an entertainment medium, a video game can also tell a story that evokes strong emotion at the same time. Of course, all good games can have an inspirational or epic moment or two, but an “art” game should be a compelling journey throughout. Soul tries to hit that niche genre, and, I daresay, actually does a pretty decent job. By a more traditional definition of genre, I suppose Soul would be called a ‘horror’ game, though there isn’t much that’s actually scary about it (ok, there’s the odd cheap scare hidden away). Rather, the game aims for a foreboding sense of fear, in the very grim and dreary scenery, to the nightmarish monsters you face, and in the flickering illumination that (poorly) outlines your treacherous path.
Humourously enough, Soul’s gameplay elements are reminiscent of N+; at its core, the gameplay is an unforgiving platformer requiring mastery of the controls and the game’s timing. While not as fast-paced as N+ is, there is absolutely no room for error, and you can be expected to lose many times throughout the game until you learn the correct sequence for each screen. The gameplay is most definitely a distant second to the game’s style, however, and I’m not sure that there is much replayability in the game, unless you wanted to challenge how quickly you could move through the game. However, given its cost, I’m more than confident you will get your money’s worth tenfold over by enjoying the game for what it is: a story.
The point of the game is to get you, a recently deceased, or more aptly, your soul, all the way to Heaven. For whatever reason, the path has become clogged with nightmarish creatures, and you are forced to travel, unarmed and unarmoured, through the stages until you escape to freedom. This is definitely the sort of game played best late at night, with the blinds drawn, and in one sitting (which works out nicely, I suppose, seeing how the game doesn’t have a save function…).
Soul’s target audience is a rather niche crew, but if you’re willing to try it out, it’s easy to appreciate the atmosphere, and the gameplay holds a decent challenge. It won’t hold a serious platformer’s attention for long, but they’ll enjoy what they get, that’s for sure.
Game Score 7.5/10
Download a free trial of the game here.