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Soul (Xbox 360) artwork

Soul (Xbox 360) review

"I wish I could further yammer on about Soul and its face-breaking difficulty, but the truth is it's a very simple, straightforward game. What you see is what you get. You guide a soul through passageways and try not to touch obstructions. This is familiar territory, as it has been covered by many a flash game."

Soul asset

I regret to inform you that you are deceased. I wish I could divulge more information regarding your demise, but the details are scant. I do know that your body currently lays lifeless in a hospital bed, awaiting staff to wrap it up and ship it off. That, however, is not currently your main concern. For you have dissociated from the corporeal and metamorphosed into something else entirely: a soul. Your life may have concluded, but--cue cliche--your true journey has commenced. Objective updated: reach Paradise. Ah, if only it were so simple. There is no tunnel of light to fly through which can deliver you to your Maker. If you wish to reap the benefits of the Great Beyond, you'll have to work for them. That means escaping the hospital and finding your own way to the Kingdom.

You might presume this will be a simple task. You probably think that because you are immaterial that you can pass through solid objects. The unfortunate truth is your soul is fragile, as even a mere brush against a wall will cause it to wink out. You therefore must maneuver carefully as you float through tricky hallways, cramped elevator shafts, and narrow sewer passages in your struggle to find an exit.

I can see that you still don't realize the gravity of the situation. As it turns out, walls are the least of your worries. Dwelling in each shadowy hallway and blood-soaked room are the beasts of Perdition. These vicious fiends love to flatten out, hiding against walls, floors and ceilings until an unsuspecting soul happens to float by. That's when they pounce, leaping forth to devour their pray and forever end its existence. You won't encounter only a few of such monstrosities, but scores of them as they group together, cramping up corridors and making already closed quarters even tighter.

Demons are not the only obstacle for you to overcome. Every hallway has its traps, some more menacing than others. For instance, fans positioned in the ventilation shafts can give you hell by sucking you into them, shredding the very last fibers of your being. You might think the sewers are safer, what with their lack of spinning fan blades, but you'll realize how wrong you are when the tunnels flood with brackish water. Your only means of escape is through the slightest of pipes, promising a fast second death. Move too quickly and you'll hit a wall and perish; too slowly and the water will extinguish your flame. Bear in mind that your soul doesn't handle with ease. It tends to build momentum and has trouble stopping on a dime. Somewhere you'll have to find a medium between maneuvering safely and darting quickly.

I wish I could further yammer on about Soul and its face-breaking difficulty, but the truth is it's a very simple, straightforward game. What you see is what you get. You guide a soul through passageways and try not to touch obstructions. This is familiar territory, as it has been covered by many a flash game.

Occasionally hitting a wall will result in a horrific apparition appearing on the screen which bellows the most awful of screams. The first time you experience this phenomenon is startling, even a little unnerving. Unfortunately, it's never actually scary. Most horror fans would regard this as a "cheap scare," something that works once and never again. Some folks tend to forget that startling and scaring are not the same thing. The former requires catching players unawares, while the latter deals with presenting players with a terrifying idea that resonates and sticks with them long after they've experienced it. The screamer is more of the former. It appears, desensitizes you, and loses its influence. Before concluding your first playthrough, the screamer will shift from an imposing image to a persistent annoyance.

What makes Soul worthwhile, though, is that it's arguably the best screamer maze available. Unlike others, you can tell this one was a labor of love. Every corridor and tunnel shows great attention to detail, and every locale is a gorgeously grizzly hand-drawn work of art that causes you to think to yourself: why the hell am I going this way? The setpieces come together to form a simple, dark narrative that horror fans will enjoy on at least a casual level.

Bear in mind that you're not paying top dollar for a killer app. Soul costs a single buck and it's a basic Xbox Indie game. It'll occupy a couple hours of your time, frustrate the hell out of you, spook you a time or two, and then depart. If you want a decent atmospheric experience, then download it this Halloween. Just don't expect anything monumental.


JoeTheDestroyer's avatar
Community review by JoeTheDestroyer (October 01, 2012)

Rumor has it that Joe is not actually a man, but a machine that likes video games, horror movies, and long walks on the beach. His/Its first contribution to HonestGamers was a review of Breath of Fire III.

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