Release Date:February 26, 2010
Summary:A horror game that has you navigate your soul among corridors of doom. Play wisely.
Soul by Kydos Studio kind of scares me. Really. It’s a freaky app.
In Soul the game starts with a beating heart on a black screen, with the title Soul etched faintly in glowing blue white. A beating heart in a black setting always conjures the most vivid of horror movies for me, so upon the sound of the flatline and the staticky emergence of the game, itself, I was gripped. The background story is vague, scant on those illustrious details inappropriate for most horror games, the only information given that you’re a dead man whose soul is on its path to heaven. It’s the mystery and unknown that keeps us wanting more, isn’t it?
Your dead character was, apparently, short on the good deeds in life because it seems his soul is stuck somewhere in limbo, stuck at the River Styx before the Elysian Fields, the blackness that pervades in between Heaven and Hell – the no man’s land, if you will. To find your way to Heaven, you must navigate the corridors of your once home, now dank and dark, twisted hellishly into some murky underworld rife with frightening monsters that gnash at you from within the darkness in the walls. It’s always the most unsuspecting moment when they strike, their blood red eyes focused intently on you, and deadly growls emitting from deep within their purple throats. Your soul, in the shape of a bright, white glowing orb, must carefully avoid these hellion creatures, and even the walls and floors. Souls are fragile things, shattered, apparently, by the most mundane of worldly objects.
The game maintains its creepy atmosphere with the usual tricks: flickering lights, dim corridors, the humming of elevators and washing machines from a decrepit building, the echoing of footsteps from an unknown source. What really ups the creep factor, though, are the excellent illustrations. Soul has all the grisly panache of a graphic novel, right down to the carefully sketched cracks in the plastered walls, exposing a section of layered brick beneath. The whole game has a sickly, gray pallor to it, tinged with green. The sound effects and the aesthetics, alone, make this game worth the great deal of frustration it is to actually play the game.
I played on Easy Mode (there is also Normal and Nightmare – I fret thinking about anything more difficult than Easy) and it was enough to make my palms sweat, not only in fear, but in rage. Your soul will shatter into a million splinters of light the moment you touch anything – anything at all. You can hold your finger on the screen to see the entire level, which really helps in figuring out the correct pathway - choose the wrong way, and you’ll most likely run into a dead end, usually with some horrific beast ready to chomp you to bits. Navigating is just a matter of tilting your iPhone this way and that, but the dim lighting sometimes makes it difficult to play this game during broad daylight. I suppose it’s the developer’s secret desire to make this game easier to play at night; too bad half of my brain is screaming FU** THAT. Every now and then your soul runs through ghouls that bear a very similar appearance to Samara from The Ring, which is probably one of the scariest creature/ghouls/peoples to ever have struck horror on the big screen. In a flash of kitschy, gimmicky horror, the whole screen with flash to black with the briefest of subliminal images showing this black-haired, ghoul with gray pallor. Despite the thriller gimmick nature of it all, it works. I jump every time. The scream that accompanies the image helps. Or, is it just me screaming?
I’ve only made it through four levels, but despite my growing frustration, I want to see more of this game. Maybe I’m just drawn to anything dark and morbid, but there’s something a little fascinating about this game. It’s definitely difficult, and it’s definitely creepy, but I can’t quite put my finger on it. Maybe I’m a little stuck in limbo, myself.