Soul Reader Review
I hate admitting that I was attracted to Soul for the way it looks but that's exactly what happened, when flicking through some of the XBox Live Indie games, browsing some of the understandably basic graphics my shallow little heart skipped a beat when I saw Souls screenshots, not only was it a stunningly presented game, it looked as if it was based in the Horror genre which was enough to get me to download the trial.
After playing the trial I instantly downloaded the full game, parted with 80 Microsoft points from my remaining balance and dived into the full experience of Soul.
Created by French Developer, Kydos Studios, Soul is a gruesomely beautiful game in which you use only the left stick to guide a dead mans soul around ever increasingly difficult mazes and single screen levels to eventually reach Heaven. Much like a nightmarish game of Operation, your little Soul friend is not allowed to touch the floor, ceiling or any walls, oh, and there are monsters, but I'll talk about those in a moment.
The mood of Soul is wonderfully dark and is presented in an almost comic book noire style, reminding me a great deal of Ska Studios The Dishwasher, Soul opens with an unnamed man dying on a hospital bed, his soul lifting out of his body, around him in the 2D world are a dirty toilet with flies busily converging around it, dirty walls and the ex-patients clothes strewn around the room, as the soul moves through the first corridor you encounter inky black monsters with red eyes and remarkably well kept teeth snapping away at you. The monsters bleed from the wall so effortlessly and the flickering lights offer some haunting moments with some truly startling 'jump out' scares it's very easy to forget you are playing a game that only cost you 69p (80msp) and not a full price XBox Arcade game in the region of £10 (1200msp)
The gameplay is very simple, Soul boils down to how gently you can nudge the analogue stick to shift your little blue blob around the levels, unfortunately the difficulty curve in Soul is steeper than Kilimanjaro as in my typical alpha male style I made the unfortunate mistake of turning up the difficulty to Hardcore which normally results in the soul skidding around the game screen like a scared cat on a sheet of ice, resulting in near instant death of the precious little soul.
I'm not ashamed that I turned the difficulty down to Wimp, in fact, this gave me the opportunity to observe the simple fact that Soul featured neither save nor checkpoint system, if you die on one of the single screen levels then you started that screen again, if you (god forbid) rage quit then you have to start the game all over again.
Turning the difficulty down allowed me time to reflect more on the different levels I guided my little soul through, from hospital corridors, sewers, underground passages and even the stomach of a giant inky monster (that's probably a spoiler right there)
If I had one criticism about Soul, it's that it was way too short, but having only paid 69p for this wonderfully grimy journey through the minds of Kydos Studios, I cannot really hold that against them. Personally I cannot wait to hear more from the world of Soul and with the "To Be Continued..." text at the end of the game, one can only hope.
[ I have screenshots and also an interview with the developers on my blog which I won't advertise here for fear of being banned...in the face! :-) ]