Soul Axiom Review
Soul Axiom is one heck of an ambitious indie game from developer Wales Interactive. Unfortunately, the final product never quite delivers a satisfying experience. Soul Axiom is a first person adventure with heavy focus on puzzle solving with some very minor platforming. The concept is fine, but marred by too many issues from dated graphics to poor pacing.
You are a soul, reliving fragmented memories of your past, and the pasts of others. The story delivers little bits of information on a pretty consistent basis, but by the time you start to piece everything together, it’s hard to even care – the game just seems to drag on forever. Each level has you experiencing the life of someone else, and throughout the level, you’ll find “Personal Message Objects” or PEMOs. These PEMOs bring up anything from a newspaper clipping to an ID badge, with bits of info pertaining to the soul you’re currently inhabiting. At the end of each level, you’re given a brief cut scene that provides a bit more insight.
“clearly the developers were influenced by Bioshock: Infinite, just don’t expect a game even remotely close in quality”
The game begins in a Bioshock: Infinite type moment where you’re flying through the air, only to land on a flying ship (The game also includes a Songbird like “Angel” that appears periodically – clearly the developers were influenced by Bioshock: Infinite, just don’t expect a game even remotely close in quality). From there, you’ll be whisked away to a few different areas before landing in a hub type level. The hub provides access to a number of level’s, each sharing a different memory from another soul. There are about 16 of these levels (all of which you’ll need to play through twice), and they all range in themes from a werewolf’s castle to a bright, sandy beach. You can die in Soul Axiom, but the respawn is quite generous, often in the same area where you died.
You begin the game with two abilities, the ability to phase in or phase out items highlighted in blue. Eventually, you’ll gain additional abilities; such as the ability to move or freeze objects highlighted in green. You’ll use these abilities for the bulk of the games puzzles. Puzzles range in difficulty, but only a few really stumped me. If you have the patience for puzzles, then you’ll definitely be at home with Soul Axiom.
Soul Axiom looks awful. There are moments when the game shows promise, such as when the game uses a neon wire-frame, “Tron” like, aesthetic. The problem is the “real world” type levels where it feels like playing a very dated Wii game. It’s not just the levels that look bad, but the contents within the levels, from furniture to characters. One example takes place on the beach level; swim out too far and an incredibly ugly shark will swim up and kill you. If you were playing the Steam or Xbox One version, this would trigger the achievement: “This Shark Still Looks Fake…” – even the developers knew how bad it looked, but props to them for having a sense of humour about it. (Note: The Wii U version does not have in-game achievements).
Soul Axiom’s sound department is a mixed bag. For the most part, the sound effects do their job, but on occasion, they just sound annoying – one particular sound you’ll become frustratingly acquainted with is the stupid monkey screech everytime you pick up a PEMO – why the developers thought one of those stupid cymbal-banging monkey toys would be a clever idea for every PEMO in the game is beyond me. Even worse, some of the sound effects don’t even function as expected. Your footsteps sound the same regardless of what surface you’re walking on, including walking in water! On the other hand, the music is decent. In fact, one particular track, the one playing during the museum level, was an excellent piece of music.
Soul Axiom requires a very specific type of gamer to enjoy what it has to offer. This gamer needs to enjoy first person games, enjoy puzzles, and be able to see past the dated visuals. Oh, and this gamer needs to have incredible patience, because Soul Axiom drags on, and on, and on. I won’t say Soul Axiom is a terrible game, but I honestly believe if developers focused on creating a shorter game, with more effort put into the games pacing, graphics and sound, the overall experience would have been far more enjoyable.
***A Wii U review code was provided by the publisher***
- Lots of variety in levels
- Some fun puzzles
- Soundtrack has some excellent tracks
- Awful graphics
- Some frustrating glitches
- Game drags on well past its welcome