Soul's Spectrum Review
You begin Soul’s Spectrum playing as a purple-haired girl in what looks to be a dungeon. The game tells you to move with your left thumbstick, so you walk around and explore the room you are in and naturally take the only path available and go up. In this corridor you run into two guards, you are flanked and quickly killed. The title screen appears once again, and instead of seeing the game title with Nora the main character shown, you see a skeleton. You are thinking, what the hell is going on here? The player is taken back to the exact same spot in the dungeon and gets to start over. And the intro text now says “And I don’t care about the consequences. I know I committed an unforgivable sin.” But this isn’t the only thing that has changed. Things are a little different this time, instead of being stabbed by the guards, they don’t even react to me and I walk right back. I guess skeletons aren’t really a threat to them…
This is one of the most intriguing starts to a game I have ever experienced. I had no idea what was happening here, but I wanted to know more! Taking on the form of the skeleton you explore more of the dungeon since the guards aren’t an issue anymore. Instead, there are other traps lying in wait for you: step on a section of floor with a bunch of tiny holes and you get stabbed by spikes, and you die, again. Back to the title screen once again, but this time the main character looks like a shadow and is known as an Umbra. We know what’s going to happen next, back to the starting point. In this form, traps are harmless as you don’t have a physical body. Instead, stepping into the light will mean instant death.
For the fourth time, we are back to the title screen. Our hero now looks like a glowing sphere, this is an Anima. When you go back to the dark dungeon you are greeted by someone named “The Wanderer”. This hooded character seems friendly and doesn’t want to kill you, but instead is like you and is trapped in this dark prison. They are the ones responsible for waking you up by performing a ritual, drawing a symbol on the floor that you will become very familiar with as these act as save points during your journey letting you remember your last memory. You quickly realise that Soul’s Spectrum is a lot different than any other RPG that you have played in the past, to make progress you need to know how to die.
This sounds totally unnatural but you learn that the main character, Nora, has four different forms that she can take on, and each has their own abilities and weaknesses. To switch between them you will either have to die to move down — Anima to Umbra, or Human to Skeleton, or light a Candle of Life to restore yourself up — like Anima form to Skeleton, or Skeleton to Human. The game makes it easy to see the ability that your current form has and the different traps that will spell your death. The Human form can roll over spikes and pull switches but is killed by guards, spikes, falls, poison, arrows, and creatures. The Skeleton form can throw a Bone-marang at distant switches you wouldn’t normally be able to reach. It shares a lot of the same weaknesses as the Human form, but guards and creatures won’t mess with it. Umbra can sneak through bars and is weak against water, light, falls, and poison. The Anima is different as it can’t die but can blink through walls and can’t do things like pull switches. It will take some time to figure out which of these forms will be needed to pass all the traps and obstacles in your way but it was a neat mechanic that I have never experienced in a game before.
This puzzle exploration game looks like a Super Nintendo style of game you would have played in the past. The pixel characters look great, I especially love the adorable Anima with its glowing eyes and the lonely Wanderer who just wants to help everyone that they encounter. The game does a great job of making this dungeon/prison feel dank and dark, especially when you have a soundtrack that is full of moody music accompanied by the ticking of a large grandfather clock. As you encounter other enemies and new areas, the music sounds truly scary which is incredibly impressive.
This RPG is primarily a puzzle game full of exploration that will have you thinking to progress through all the different areas. This is not an easy game but it’s not so hard that it will be impossible to solve. When you do figure out how to get through an area, you will feel a great sense of accomplishment as it is tricky. Just be sure to save your game at one of the Ritual Points that you encounter so you don’t lose your progress and you can start again at that same point. It took a lot of experimentation to figure out the exact forms that I would need to take on — and a ton of dying! But as you play more and learn new abilities, things get a bit easier.
I’ve had a lot of fun playing Soul’s Spectrum, the story is so interesting and engaging I just had to learn more. Meeting new characters and finding mysterious notes on the ground was a great way to reveal the secrets of what was going on here. I love playing games that have a really good and interesting story. It’s hard to get invested in a game if you don’t care about the characters. If you love games that will challenge you and make you think instead of just clicking through endless text boxes, I highly recommend checking Soul’s Spectrum out. Developer Thund Games has done a great job at creating a title with unique and original gameplay that feels like a breath of fresh air despite its retro look.
Soul's Spectrum (Reviewed on Windows)
This game is great, with minimal or no negatives.
Soul’s Spectrum is an RPG unlike any other that I have played. With a totally unique gameplay mechanic along with an intriguing story, this game will challenge you in a good way!