I’m purchasing an Xbox Live Indie Game every day, seeking out the quality titles that got lost in the shuffle and no longer appear in the top 50 downloads. Today is day #9, and today’s game is “Soul”.
Soul is a visually striking game, with a dark and moody graphical aesthetic. You play as a soul, just escaped from a dying hospital patient’s body. Monsters are everywhere trying to devour you. Your only escape is to carefuly navigate your way to safety, avoiding walls and monsters as you slip around or through air ducts, elevator shafts, enemies, and any other obstacles in your way.
First off, you have to understand that this game is *hard*. It’s not trying to be easy. This game gleefully harkens back to a bygone era when trial-and-error was required to get through games, and it was rare that you would ever “beat” one. Back then, without the aid of online walkthroughs, gamers often weren’t even sure exactly what we were supposed to do in a given level to complete it. Soul feels a lot like that. Make no mistake: if you thought Super Meat Boy was hard, or something you didn’t have the patience for, then this likely isn’t your game either. For the rest of us, though, this game is a triumph that will keep you coming back for more.
This game is a merging of a bunch of genres. At its heart is a maze game, as you try to thread the needle through unforgiving corridors avoiding walls and, well, everything else in your path. Even so much as the slightest touch against anything means instant death, and a return to the beginning of the level. Thankfully, the collision detection is very good, and I never once felt that I had died when I should have been safe. There’s a touch of survival horror here, with monsters suddenly popping up from floors, and other things that were actually able to generate real chills with me. This game has atmosphere to spare, and the spooky sounds of the environments you have to navigate complement the game perfectly. There’s a bit of puzzle solving to the game too, such as in one level where you are in the hospital’s air ducts and have to not only navigate tight spaces while avoiding opponents, but you also have to suss out a path that either successfully avoids, or utilises, the fans blowing air into or out of the ducts. While the levels are very dark, your character does cast some light on objects and walls near it which helps.
My goal with this site is not to beat every game and offer a comprehensive review, but to play far enough into a game that I’m sure it’s one I want to buy. I then play a bit farther until I’m satisfied I have enough information to give people a taste of the game in a review. Given the inexpensive prices of Xbox Live Indie Games, I really only feel that I need to give people enough information so that they can decide whether it’s the kind of game, with the kind of production values, that they would appreciate. That’s good too, because otherwise this would be a game that would wait years for me to “beat” it, if indeed I am ever to do so. I anticipate it’s a game that I’ll play a level or two of every few days, possibly for years to come, sometimes making progress, sometimes not. That level of difficulty, though, will mean that when you do finally beat a level that you’ll experience a level of satisfaction that is often missing from today’s games.
The game costs 80 Microsoft Points and is recommended for people who like maze games, people who like a real challenge, and people who don’t have a history of throwing their controller against the wall in frustration.
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