04/01/2022

๐Ÿฐ 6Souls | XBOX | Review | 8/10 | "She Sells 6Souls on the Seashore" ๐Ÿฐ #GameDev #IndieGame

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“My soul is prepared… How’s yours?”

A question put to Indiana Jones by a member of the Brotherhood of the Cruciform Sword while facing a boat propeller-induced nose job, and a pertinent question to ask yourself before launching 6Souls, a new pixel art action platformer thrust onto the gaming scene in December 2021.

And prepared you must be. For we have seen this before. The straightforward, simple platformer, that hides a litany of misery within its confines.

How many Xbox controllers need fall by the wayside? Snapped in twain in a fit of anger, a fury hitherto unknown since New Zealand Story emerged on the Amiga…

But 6Souls is not this. Well, most of the time anyway. It rarely feels too unfair, and it is a high accolade indeed that I can compare this game to Celeste, and compare it I shall. And it compares well. 

If you’ve played Maddy Thorson’s 2018 masterpiece, then much of 6Souls will be familiar. You have a 2D platformer, with monsters and weapons, but mostly you have platforms and death.

So much death.

Usually spikey pit death or bottomless pit death, but either way, you’ve got the survival chances of a character played by Sean Bean.

Both games also use the ‘dash’ mechanic. Effectively a boost in a single direction, sometimes chained together to allow Jack to ‘fly’ around levels, from precarious platform to precarious platform.

Much of 6Souls centres on timing and a little bit of luck. You will perish. You will have a USE BY date of mere seconds. But then you will be reborn, and only a little way back from your most recent grisly death.

Like with Celeste, there’s some trial and error. You enter each room with little idea of what’s ahead, but confident in the knowledge that as you never have to go back too far, you can just plunge in and have a go. And die. And learn. And die again. And learn a little more. When you DO get through a section, the sense of achievement is strong, as you will have worked out a path and mastered physics.

The plot involves a mystery surrounding Clifford Castle and its inhabitants (and their souls), and only Jack can solve it (by taking out zombies and avoiding pointy spikes, mainly). The plot is not essential to what you do but is more interesting than most and worth paying attention to.

So, what else does 6Souls bring to the table?

Well, there’s Butch, Jack’s dog. Butch, somewhat inexplicably, is carted around in Jack’s backpack most of the time. He emerges to engage in (genuinely) amusing banter with Jack, but he can also be employed to retrieve items that Jack can’t reach. 

There’s also Jack’s binoculars. These are a godsend. They allow the player to preview the level ahead and if you’ve played games like this before, you’ll know how invaluable that sounds. It means you get to plan ahead more and feel less like you’re jumping into the void.

In summary, 6Souls is a real gem. It doesn’t do anything earth-shatteringly new, but what it does, it does very well. There are sections that had me wanting to sell my Xbox in frustration and live in a monastery on Anglesey, but I managed to get through with dogged persistence, and I am not the most able gamer around. 

There aren’t many downsides to this game. The two that spring to mind are that there’s often not an incentive to kill monsters as evading them is easier, and the pixel-perfect precision needed in parts (as is so often the case with games of this ilk) can be frustrating, as yet another pit spike hurtles toward your face.

6Souls is available NOW

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