3Souls is a new 2D Puzzle Platformer Indie game made by Red Column! exclusively for the Nintendo Wii U. It will release in three separate episodes, of which the initial release on July 28th 2016, will be the first. It requires approximately 158MB of space on your system and costs $3.90, or £3.20. Is it worth selling your soul for? Only one way to find out with this *spoiler free* review!
Our story begins with our introduction to a new world; Mustland. Mustland is a world separate from our own, inhabited by the Animas. Animas like our new friend and protagonist Nelesa. The Animas wear masks to protect their souls from the dangers of the world around them. They are life-essential. Your goal as the player is to safely guide and help navigate Nelesa to escape from her lunar prison, while simultaneously learning more about her past.
As the game’s title would suggest, the soul plays an intricate role in the gameplay. The soul is represented as a visible entity, in the form of a celestial light that bounces around centre of Nelesa’s body. The light changes colour and speed depending on your surrounding environment. It tells you what Nelesa’s current state of emotion is, whether it is projecting fear, anger, or intrigue at points of interest.
The game is divided into short levels that take approximately 3 to 5 minutes each, give or take. The levels are further divided into different rooms that strive to mix up the puzzle elements in an efficient capacity. Upon entering a new room, your character will hit a checkpoint. If you are injured in this room then you will revert back to the checkpoint, and will have to complete the room from scratch. It’s rather unforgiving, as your character can only take a single hit. This can of course result in some easy game overs.
The Wii U isn’t really known for fully embracing its tablet controller, and as a result it is noticeable just how well ingrained the functionality exists with 3Souls. Most of the puzzles in fact, have to be solved using the gamepad. We connect to the characters in a very real way to help them on their journey. Examples of this involve blowing on the gamepad to activate a ventilator to blow Nelesa to a higher platform to allow her to progress, or through a camera in our world see a platform that Nelesa cannot see herself.
It is honestly one of the best and most creative uses of the gamepad the Wii U has ever seen.
3Souls has two very distinct art styles working in unison. Firstly, the characters and dangerous obstacles (such as spikes) are presented in an 8-bit art style using sprites. These are laid on top of a more detailed background that looks almost hand-drawn and coloured. The levels are well designed, and fun to progress through and explore.
The best word I could use to describe the music of 3Souls is ‘tranquil’. Soft compositions calmly play in the background in a completely unintrusive manner. It all adds to the general tone of being ‘otherworldly’ in nature.
The game opens with a brief, narrated introduction to give the player insight into exactly what the game is, who the character is and what her objective is. While the intro does a good job of conveying its message, it is delivered by a voiceover that disrupts the tone that it’s trying to set, feeling forced and disingenuous.
3Souls has some of the best Wii U gamepad implementation that the system has to offer. Fully delivering on its promise in breaking new ground. It should easily find appeal within the influxed crowd of Nindie gamers, and it provides an experience well worth its cost.
What do you think of 3Souls? Let us know in the comments section!