Tons of games come out every year, and typically the AAA titles from big time developers and publishers are often the star. It is the case that some of the bigger Indie titles do get a good amount of press, but what about the indies that don’t get showcased at big events like Nintendo Directs or State of Plays. Well, ever since its launch last year on Stadia, I have been eyeing the game Young Souls. The game was developed by 1P2P Studio. Young Souls released on Thursday March 10th, and thanks to publisher The Arcade Crew, I got the chance to review the game. Young Souls released on Nintendo Switch, PlayStation, Xbox, PC via Steam, and also is available on Xbox Game Pass at launch. I played the game on the Nintendo Switch OLED so my review will be based on that version of the game. What do I think of the game? Well keep reading and you will find out.
In the game, you play as a brother and sister, named Jenn and Tristan, that are adopted by a professor who no longer teaches at the University. They don’t feel like people care about them, and they don’t call the professor dad because he is not their biological father. These characters are described as juveniles who feel that nobody cares about them. This is not true at all, and throughout the story they slowly understand that. At first, the characters seemed really boring and basic to me, but as the story unwinds and you learn more about them, you realize that they are actually really deep characters. These teens are more mature than a lot of others in their age group and they understand some things that adults in real life don’t grasp. Some of the biggest concepts that are intertwined in the story, is the feeling of worth and the your morality as a person.
The point of the story is to rescue the professor, your adopted parental guardian, after he has been captured by a subterranean race. You meet a character who is named Baldwin who helps you on your journey to rescue him. Throughout the story, you learn that the underground race is planning to wage an attack on the surface. Your objective is to stop it from happening by taking out different individuals who are connected to the plan, while at the same time trying to get to the professor. It might seem basic, and it somewhat is, but the story is still good. There is no voice acting throughout the entire game, which in all aspects would normally put me off, but it wasn’t that bad of an omission as you can hear the character through the lines and animation that they portray in the game. Now, I won’t go into spoilers, but the story is better than I originally thought it might be and more complex with the issues that it tackles. Basically to sum it up, I pose the following question:
“What happens if the 1 person that cares about you is taken away?”
Okay, so I talked about the story, but the most important part of any game, in my opinion, is the gameplay. Basically, you combine an RPG and a beat-em-up brawler, and you get what Young Souls is. There are many aspects to the gameplay but one of them, and the most important, is combat. This game plays as a beat-em-up level by level, but is more action RPG in my opinion, but it feels much more modern than most might. You need to equip weapons, armor, and one accessory to each of the twin characters to gain Attack Power, HP, and Mana. You unlock different accessories throughout the game and you have to pick 1 for each character to use. I picked the bow for Jenn, and the bomb for Tristan, but there are four others to choose from. However, be mindful because each piece of armor, and weapon, you equip has a weight cost that makes your character slower on the battlefield. The stronger the equipment, the more it will cost you. Personally, I had Tristan be a little heavier but have a higher attack power, while I had Jenn be lighter but with less attack power. Finding that balance throughout the game made the combat even more fun as I felt like I was playing an RPG at points.
The game has 4 different dungeons that you travel to in order to find the end objective of the world, a Power Rune. In each of the dungeons, there are different paths that you can go, but the game wants you to explore them all by hiding secrets at the ends of some paths, i.e. better weapons and armor. The 4th dungeon is a heck of a lot different than the first 3, but I won’t spoil what it is. Just be careful! In the dungeons, you can gain collectable items that can be used to upgrade your character, along with gold coins that can be used as one of the two currencies in the game. These coins help you buy items and craft upgrades, pretty standard things. The other currency is dollars which can be used to buy clothes for outside of the dungeons. It’s a nice thing to have, but I didn’t really use it all that much in my playthrough.
Throughout the levels, you gain experience points that will make you level up. In order to level up, you actually have to leave the dungeons and go back to your bedroom to sleep. Personally, that’s one of my big problems with the game since I did not always want to leave the dungeon to get the level up. Thankfully many checkpoints and fast travel is an option in the game. Sometimes after leveling up, you get tickets to go to the gym. The gym allows you to upgrade one of the three stats each time, Strength, Stamina, and Res. These are minigames where you have to either mash or hold the “a” button. Its optional and somewhat annoying, but because it increases stats, I do recommend hitting the in game gym when you can. The game wants you to play on challenging which is the “recommended” difficulty, but I chose to play it on Balanced difficulty. I still had a couple of deaths in the game. It is not extremely hard, but you have to watch a lot of pieces at once to avoid dying. There is 2 other options as well.
Now for the other pieces in games that I like to discuss. First off, the art is stunning to look at, especially on the OLED screen. I found the game looked great in docked mode, but because of the art style in the game, I played 90% of the game in portable mode since it was even better portably. The designs of the levels are also really nice to look at, even if they seem a little repetitive in some parts. The music in the game, for me personally, was one of my least favorite parts as not much stood out to me. It’s not the worst game music I have ever heard, but I wish it was stronger and more punchy than what it is for the type of game it is. Again, it is not bad, just underwhelmed me a little bit. The audio design of the weapons and armor throughout the game actually takes over the music. As for the frame rate and resolution, everything played fairly solid except for a couple loading sections, and one of the fights close to the end of the game where it struggled hard, which is not great for an action style game. Load times were not that bad either, but there could be a lot of them depending on how you play.
Alright lastly I want to discuss one more thing before my final impressions. Bugs, glitches, and crashes…. there is a LOT of them. I don’t know what goes on behind the scenes with game development and I know for a fact that it cannot be easy to create a game, but when a game crashes repeatedly for what appears to be no reason at all, that’s a problem for the player. There were a few bugs and glitches with characters missing when going to different areas, there were glitches throughout menus consistently where I would be choosing an outfit for one of the characters but it wasn’t letting me choose the other one without backing out completely. Worst of all though, the game crashed a total of 7 times. Sometimes leaving or entering areas would cause this to happen. During battles with enemies it happened, in the middle of loading it crashed a couple times, and even opening the menu it made the game crash. When a game crashes, it takes the player out of the experience and makes the player annoyed. Granted, autosaves happen pretty constantly so the only really bad ones was during bosses when I was on the last stage of them. I expect glitches and bugs and a maybe like 1-2 crashes in games nowadays, but 7 crashes…. that seems high. Maybe this was just the switch version, but it still should be something to look into if possible.
Alright, final opinions on the game. The story and themes in the story were very good and better than I hoped. The gameplay was so much better than I thought it would be with all of the different things that happen in the game, except for the leveling up and the gym area. The music was not terrific, but the art style more than makes up for it. The lack of voice acting, while voice acting would definately be helpful here, isn’t too horrible because of the character dialogue and emotion in the animation shows what it may sound like. The bugs and crashes took my experience from a really solid game, to something that is good but needed a little more time for QA if possible. Do I recommend this game? Yes, I actually do. I would say to try to find a different platform than the switch version because maybe the bugs and glitches aren’t on places like Xbox, PlayStation, or PC; but the switch version does indeed work fine besides the crashes and minor bugs. It is also on Game Pass so I would definately consider it a look if you are a little bit interested in it. It took me 10 hours to roll credits and is priced at $24.99. The game also offers local co-op but I did not have the ability to test the feature. For an indie game, it definately deserves a look if you are into RPGs or Action / Beat-em-Ups.
A review code was provided from publisher The Arcade Crew, but in no way does it affect my opinion on the overall game.
Review Score: 7/10