Having helped many an indie developer attain a broader viewers, Canadian writer Graffiti Video games has an impressively numerous catalogue of titles, with final 12 months’s Blue Fireplace being significantly well-received on Change. Stressed Soul, from developer Fuz Video games, is a visible mix of Tamagotchi-style sprites in a Kindle Paperwhite world: austere, fully greyscale, and very minimalist. It is a sport that really works higher in handheld than it does on a bigger show.
Functioning as a stripped-back action-RPG, there are some seek-and-collect objects to pursue do you have to really feel so inclined, however not a sniff of a hit-point or any of the opposite bumph often related to the style. Unfold over eight worlds and accompanying cities, you possibly can freely backtrack by the use of teleportation. The plot focuses on you, a spirit, in your quest to return from the underworld to the land of the dwelling.
A easy premise well-married to its uncomplicated black and white rendering, its nether-world is cutely populated by cities, dungeons, ponds, and submit packing containers. Navigation is aided by your cell phone, offering maps and achievement data that encourage you to depart no stone unturned. The place Stressed Soul is most original is in its boldly marketed ‘bullet hell’ battles, a moniker created and principally reserved for a very manic pressure of shoot ’em up. Right here, the expertise is pretty watered down. Your sprite is commanded by a twin-stick transfer and shoot setup, and a touch that lets you momentarily pip via bullet sprays unscathed. Whereas tame early on, the motion does warmth up by round world 4, and among the battles in opposition to the underworld’s minions are cleverly thought out and pleasing to tackle.
Stressed Soul makes use of a number of digital camera perspective shifts, generally coming right down to eye-level or panning out relying on the staging of the battle, however a little bit extra regularity in its invention would not have gone amiss. Bullet spreads may be navigated in 360 levels, and enemies sport more and more unique assault varieties all through the sport. The dungeons and cities, whereas initially slightly boring, do begin to flesh out and introduce extra participating concepts in a while, together with the odd-puzzle, minigame, transferring platform, and dash-disabled room to navigate.
What makes or breaks issues, nevertheless, is the heavy reliance on humour to fill the yawning gaps between its motion. The quantity of precise ‘sport’ in Stressed Soul pales compared to its reams of comedian dialogue, fixed quips, fourth-wall-breaking jokes and banter between NPCs. It’s extra sitcom than RPG, at occasions, and can both show extremely entertaining or groan-worthily tiresome.
Think about the humorous dialogue moments of Paper Mario — a title from which Stressed Soul attracts a good quantity of affect — and now think about that it was 80% of the sport. You cease each few seconds, both inside dungeons or cities, for exchanges which might be typically un-skippable and really comparable in tone:
“I can’t allow you to via and not using a allow.”
“Oh actually? The place does it say so?”
“Within the script that’s been connected to me.”
Whereas the banter has a specific amount of allure, for us it turned wearisome considerably rapidly. There’s virtually an excessive amount of of it. You’ll be able to’t ignore NPCs fully — there are occasions while you want pointers — however most provide no helpful info in any respect, and are solely there to serve up one more ba-dum-tss second. Developer Fuz, who seems in-game as a townsperson, clearly thinks of themselves as a witticist, and that’s nice — simply remember that in the event you tire of the humour, you’ll tire of the sport.