Soft Body Review
Soft Body is a bullet-hell action puzzle game by indie developer Zeke Virant, but the experience isn’t close to any level of hell at all. You play as two “gooey snakes” — basically you are a ball of colour, and moving around stretches your body behind you to make it look like a swimming planarian. There is you, and then there is your “ghost”, which you control as well. It has different abilities than your main body and cannot die, but it is just as crucial to completing levels.
The objective here is to solve puzzles. A simple, yet incredibly relaxing, game, it is strangely meditative. There is the sense that everything in the background fades around you as you become these little snakes trying to move a ball to the end of its path. You focus and everything melts away as you dodge bullets, keep track of your two snakes, and gradually remove obstacles to complete the puzzle. The ghost is similar to the main body, but it has different abilities for you to figure out through gameplay. It can dispatch some enemies the other cannot, and if it is hit, it simply retreats back to the main body for you to try again.
“A simple, yet incredibly relaxing, game, it is strangely meditative.”
Often, you would be trying to get as close to the different hazards spitting out the bullets as possible, because you need to touch them to make them go away or you need to move the ball tightly around them while not getting hit. There were levels where I would need to move along the walls, touching them to change them into a different colour to complete the objective while dodging bullets. It struck a fun balance as I shifted strategies: I would track the pattern of the bullets, I would make a beeline for the enemy with my non-killable ghost, or I would have one body doing the work while the other eliminated threats.
It tells you right as the game opens; Soft Body was definitely made for a controller, and more specifically, a Playstation controller. It assumes you are using one; for example, I was using an Xbox controller on PC, and was told to hit “X” when I had to push “A” to proceed. There is nothing too detrimental to the experience here and it is simple to move past. In game, you use each analogue stick to control the snakes at the same time — try not to get cross-eyed while avoiding all those bullets.
While this is a relaxing game, it can get tough. You will die a lot, but you feel incredibly encouraged to come back and try again in this quick restart game. With a brief message asking you, “Try again? The world is yours!”, I found I couldn’t be too upset about the mistakes I made, and I would restart the level. Somehow, playing this game feels so nice that there is nothing too frustrating about it. There are two categories of levels, which separate the introductory levels from the “mind-splitting” ones. These are aptly called “Soft Game” and “Hard Game”, for whether you are seeking something a little more relaxing or something to challenge your Soft Body skills.
As you progress through the chapters, different colour schemes, modes of play, and obstacles are unlocked. Upon first glance, I expected the vivid colours to be garish and harsh on the eyes, but it was nothing of the sort. It all works, and the sound design for Soft Body is ideal. It is ambient and echoing, lulling you into a meditative, focused state and washing everything else away.
Despite how peculiar it all may seem, all of the elements of Soft Body come together and make perfect sense while you are playing it. I would recommend Soft Body to players looking for a light challenge and something to take their mind off of other things; you do not need to look any further than this odd and special game.
*** PC code provided by the publisher ***
- Relaxing and meditative
- Challenging but rewarding fun
- Great combination of soundtrack, gameplay, & visuals
- Very optimized for controller use, you will get a lesser experience with keyboard and mouse