Download Games Roundup

Soul, Patchwork Heroes, Rocket Racing and The Hero.

Last week introduced the first of our new Download Games Roundups, in which erstwhile Eurogamer.net editor Kristan Reed hunts down a selection of games released across the various digital distribution platforms: Steam, Xbox Live Arcade, PSN (including PSP minis), WiiWare and DSiWare, the Xbox Indie Games Channel and Apple's App Store for the iPhone and iPod Touch (and, in the near future, the iPad).

The idea is that by running weekly multiformat roundups, rather than the single-format roundups we used to previously, we'll be able to bring you more timely reviews of a broader selection of titles from gaming's wild frontier. Let us know if you think it's working!

Soul

  • Developer: Kydos Studio
  • Format: Xbox Live Indie Games, iPhone / iPod Touch
  • Price: 80 Microsoft Points (£0.64) on Xbox Live, £1.19 on the App Store

The stark finality of a flat-lining ECG machine makes a chilling introduction to this artful probe into the afterlife from Kydos Studio. Floating formlessly above your own lifeless cadaver, your death is just the beginning as you take control of your soul.

Represented as a glowing blob of light, your aim is to try and negotiate your soul through the cruel twists and turns of demon-filled hospital corridors on the way to eventually finding a safe passage to heaven itself. High concept or what?

Essentially an arty version of the old steady-hand buzz-wire game you might find at school fêtes, Soul sets you the principal aim of getting through each screen without touching any obstacles. On the iPhone this involves tilting your way through each environment, while the Xbox 360 version (found on the Indie Channel) relies on the more traditional control stick method.

soul

Soul: James Brown's playing it from beyond the grave. Hit me. Good god. Yow.

Either way, success relies upon an unerringly steady hand and a modicum of trial and error as you avoid the chomping jaws of death as they leap mercilessly from the walls of your surroundings.

As you progress, the locations and hazards become increasingly unconventional and challenging. One room tasks you with outrunning a flood as it overtakes a room, while another sees you trapped inside the belly of the beast, winding through his pulsing intestines before eventually escaping out of his rectum. Pleasant.

But possibly the most savage test of all comes right at the end, as you traverse a lightning-strewn storm, dodging the precipitous clouds on the way to the eternal sunshine that streams through heaven's gates.

Soul is a deeply beautiful experience at times, not unlike Flower, although at the polar opposite end of the scale for relaxation. It's fiddly, taxing, and often hellishly frustrating in its demand for ultimate precision, but somehow also hugely engaging and addictive. For the price, it's well worth investigating, if only to show support for the spirit of adventure shown in these indie gaming experiments.

8/10

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