Soul Axiom Review
Soul Axiom was developed and published by Wales Interactive. It was released on June 8th at a price of $19.99/£14.99 and is available on Xbox One, Playstation 4, WiiU and Steam. A press review copy was provided for The Hidden Levels.
Soul Axiom is a first person narrative driven adventure puzzle game, set in the future where technology has been developed that allows people to download the human soul. With a beautiful neon setting and a story that manages to keep you guessing Soul Axiom is a game that is as fascinating as it is frustrating.
What I enjoyed:
I got soul – The story of Soul Axiom is a pretty unique premise that I really enjoyed. You start the game in a rather spectacular fashion as you freefall through a storm. Before long you land on what looks a lot like a pirate ship. From there you go through a little tutorial to help you establish the basics as you venture towards Elysia. Once you reach Elysia the fun really starts as you then get to explore the different locations. At the end of each section you’ll get a snippet of a memory which initially may not make any sense, but once you’ve reached the end of the game everything will become clear. The various collectibles that can be found throughout Soul Axiom help to flesh out some of the back story so checking every nook and cranny for those is recommended. During each level you can also find a black floating cube that you initially cannot interact with. When you come back to do a second play through of these levels finding this cube will allow you to access a corrupted memory. Completing these allows you to see a different version of events which gives a more complete picture of what has happened to each soul. I did sometimes find it a little difficult to keep track of the story due to the fragmented approach but it’s still an interesting concept all the same.
Am I in the Grid? – One of the very first things that came into my mind is that the neon theme reminded me of Tron. It is impossible to play this game without that thought popping into your head. For the most part Soul Axiom manages to keep the visuals vibrant and interesting which is due to the varied locations you’ll visit during your playtime. You’ll visit a plethora of different environments each with their own unique feel, from a possibly haunted mansion, to a lighthouse on a desert island, through to a bright light forest. Each area has a very different feel that stops the game from feeling overly repetitive although the fact you have to play most of the levels twice to access the latter parts of the game does lessen the impact of the visuals a little. There were several areas where I found it to be a little too dark at times even though I had put the in-game brightness up to the maximum. It didn’t cause too many issues but on some occasions it made navigating where I needed to go a little trickier than it maybe needed to be.
Audio porn – A game with a good soundtrack will immediately grab my attention. I actually picked up and played Mirror’s Edge from the strength of the in-game music I had heard on a YouTube preview. Soul Axiom has a very well put together soundtrack that perfectly captures the mood of each level. My favourite part is easily the main menu theme tune, which I listened to over and over on multiple occasions. The voice acting is fairly well done although a couple of the characters don’t sound overly convincing when delivering their lines, and the sound effect that is used when you land after jumping is just awful. My only main issue with the soundtrack is that the tracks for each level are a little quick to repeat. I’d have liked it if some of the levels had either a longer track or multiple songs for each level although the songs are good they still can grate when you hear it on a loop for 45 minutes as you try and solve a puzzle and fail over and over. All in all though it is a pleasure to listen to and I would happily download and listen to the original sound track.
I feel smart – The vast majority of Soul Axiom will involve you trying to solve a series of puzzles in order to progress through each level. To do this you are given a variety of powers to help you work your way through them. Each power is conveniently colour coded and items you can interact with have the same colour which helps you know what can be use or moved and what can’t. It sounds like a simple enough premise but some of the puzzles in the latter parts of the game had me stumped for hours for both good and bad reasons. One of the more innovative puzzles was located in the Ice Palace level where you have to find a variety of Zodiac symbols and use them to display a star sign which you then input on a rotating wheel to unlock a bridge. It took me a lot of time to get to grips with it and I really felt good after finishing this puzzle as it’s well balanced difficulty wise and made me think but never felt like the solution was obscure or unachievable.
What I disliked
Ok, maybe I’m not so smart – While some of the puzzles in Soul Axiom were very well done and really took a lot of exploration and intuition to work out a lot of them unfortunately resort to relying on the player using a combination of powers until you eventually solve it and move on. This happened far too much for my liking and it felt at times like I was getting through the puzzles more by luck than by problem solving which isn’t as satisfying or rewarding as others. I don’t mind being challenged by a game or puzzle but when it is solved by brute force more often than it is by intelligent thinking or a clear solution it does take a bit of the shine off.
Play it again Sam – As I mentioned above in order to see the end of the game you need to access the corrupt memories found in each level. You only unlock the ability to access these corrupt memories after having played every single level once before. To then have to go through every level for a second time to access these really dropped the enjoyment level for me. You don’t have to go through to the very end of every level to find these but they are still very well hidden at times and made an already long game feel like a bit of a drag towards the end.
A bit more polish? – The look of Soul Axiom drew me in like a moth to a flame however at times it can look a little rough around the edges. The fog used in certain levels to create atmosphere actually does nothing but make navigating the map harder. I had a couple of issues with the audio where a popping sound would occur and the only way to stop it repeating every 10-15 seconds was to completely quit the game and reload. I also found that some parts of it were very dark even with the brightness level turned up to maximum as I have mentioned already.
Soul Axiom isn’t a game for those who give up easily as some parts of the game really took a lot of time and patience to get past. For those who persevere with it you’ll be rewarded with a diverse story that touches on some interesting subjects. I thoroughly enjoyed my time exploring Elysia and delving into the minds of others and I really hope that there is more to come.
Score: Buy it now
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