The soul is an interesting thing. People perceive it in many different ways. Through multiple mediums we have attempted to understand it and explore the very essence of a human being. Video games are one such medium, but these are few and far between when it comes to this topic. Certain titles have gone beyond the typical conventions of video game violence and have interpreted this concept in their own way. Now, a new title has joined the fray to put its own unique spin on the subject of the unknown. Aptly named Soul Axiom
, developer Wales Interactive has created a puzzler with its own unique story to both test and expand our minds. Is this a puzzle title that we won't forget soon?Soul Axiom
is host to an unusual concept and explains it in a slightly convoluted way. As you begin, the game throws you straight in without revealing much and this continues for a fairly long time. You will eventually reach Elysia, the main hub. Elysia is a plane of existence for one's soul that is uploaded so that past memories can be experienced. Think of it as a digital afterlife. Once you reach Elysia, you will be playing through various levels that are linked to the game's four main characters. At the end of a level, you will witness a memory of one of these characters and so understand more about who they are. All of these characters are linked through a somewhat interesting story and it is through these memories, as well as an abundance of collectables, that the story will unfold. However, the story is completely baffling until you reach a certain point and some cutscenes made very little sense until another collectable was discovered, or another level was completed. It adds a sense of intrigue as you progress through, but at the same time you may sometimes wonder what on earth you just watched.
Aside from its story, the core of Soul Axiom
lies within the levels that you complete. While the game doesn't give you complete freedom, there is an element of choice when playing through levels. Each tier of levels lets you play them in whatever order you want until you complete them all and unlock the next tier, although this doesn't really change anything. The Tron
-esque hub and music helps to amplify that sense of transcending the world of the living into something more as you go from level to level, but this is simply a pathway to your next set of puzzles.
Welcome to Elysia. We hope that your uploaded soul enjoys its stay.
The levels themselves are numerous and vary widely in design. Not one level is the same and so you will find yourself walking through beaches, eerie hospitals, ominous churches and many more. While the graphics certainly aren't anything to get excited about, the diversity of each level's aesthetic definitely helps the game to remain fresh, even after your umpteenth puzzle has been completed. You will also regularly feel uneasy as occasional jumpscares and unidentifiable figures will startle you just as you've let your guard down. It can be unclear as to how these moments link to the game's story, but both this and the level music help to build an atmosphere as you aim to solve the many puzzles that are presented to you.
For the actual puzzles themselves, you will be periodically given access to a few powers with which to complete them. While there are only a few, plenty of puzzles ask you to use different combinations of these powers. One such power, known as the "Play" power, lets you move things telepathically and pause them mid-movement. Others, which I will not spoil, seem to be used slightly less and so you will regularly be moving objects around to create a path or to get them in the correct position to hear that satisfactory chime of another puzzle reaching completion. Despite the limited powers on offer, the developer has done a good job in creating levels that don't feel repetitious.
One minute you're sneaking through a spooky mansion, the next you're exploring a futuristic space station.
If you aren't utilising powers then you will be interacting with objects in the environment instead, although just wielding a power acts as light for darkened areas, something that is helpful in itself. The game seizes plenty of opportunities to have you simply placing things in particular locations or manipulating an object in some form just by taking hold of it. These puzzles are no less creative than the rest and you'll actually find yourself rattling your brain for a solution on a regular basis, only to then realise that it's right there in front of you. Those "eureka!" moments are extremely gratifying, especially after being stuck on a level for an entire hour. There can be the odd occasion, though, where a puzzle solution is sometimes stumbled across through trial and error. When objects are to be in a particular order without any logical explanation as to why, it can be frustrating. A death of sorts can be a punishment for traversing somewhere you shouldn't, or simply failing a puzzle, but this is merely a slight setback rather than completely failing the level.
Depending on how much of a puzzle veteran you are, there is potentially a lot of content on offer here. If, like me, you are searching the depths of your mind for a solution on most of the puzzles, then you're easily looking at 12+ hours of gameplay. There's also the prospect of searching high and low for the collectables that take the form of eyes on walls, giving you cryptic messages about souls and the afterlife, or strange toy monkeys called "PEMO's" (Personal Message Objects) that reveal more information on the life of the four characters. These help you to grasp more of the story so it's definitely worth searching for them.
Soul Axiom You'll quickly become well acquainted with each of your powers.
isn't the most technically impressive of titles. The first-person view and sci-fi design of some areas is a welcome change from the plethora of pixelated platformers on the market currently, but cutscenes still sometimes look like they came out of a 90's movie maker program. There was a moment where I somehow fell through the floor for a split second before re-gaining my footing in a level, but fortunately the game didn't need a complete reset at any point. The diverse colour pallet and level design are the saving grace of the game after being subject to the issues it does have.
The achievements of Soul Axiom
add up to a total of 51 so there are plenty to earn. Every level has its own achievement for completing it, while there are a few random level specific challenges to complete and items to discover. You will need to find every single collectable and even witness each of the character's endings. It may seem like an intimidating list at first, but once you get into your stride and progress through the game, it is a doable 1,000G that isn't over too slowly or too quickly.
is an interesting title. It explores an unconventional concept to that of most games, and the puzzles are challenging and vary in design. The story is unique but it can be difficult to follow at first as you will become confused by the unusual cutscenes that play at the end of each level. If you persevere with the game, though, it is a rewarding experience that will offer you plenty of content. Collectables don't feel tacked on and they actually help to enrich the game's plot, something that is certainly a blessing with this one. Whether you're after a new puzzle title to get your brain whirring, or an indie game that doesn't possess a pixelated 2D artstyle, Soul Axiom
may be worth a look.
- Levels feel unique and are diverse in design
- Interesting puzzles that provide a challenge
- Plenty of content and levels to explore
- Story can seem baffling in places
- Some puzzle solutions can occasionally feel obscure
- Cutscenes look very basic
The reviewer spent 13 hours solving puzzle after puzzle, and then finding more levels and solving even more puzzles. 30 of the game's 51 achievements were earned along the way. A code for the game was provided by the developer for the purpose of this review.