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Wayward Souls Review (iOS)

2014-05-08 19.21.52So mobile games are all shit now, right? That’s what I said just a month ago, as the market became saturated with awful Flappy Bird and Clash of Clans clones. Everything was either a re-skinned piece of F2P trash that was stealing your money, or a cynical attempt to cash in on the Flappy phenomenon with a low quality endless runner. So what happened?

Well a ton of great handheld games all came out at the same time. Of course I’m not saying this happened purely to prove me wrong…. but it totally did. As ever, the biggest force for positive change in the universe is its ability to make a loudmouth look like an idiot. So now this loudmouth is going to tell you about one of the best games he’s played. It’s called Wayward Souls.

2014-05-08 19.20.51When you stick “Souls” in your game title, you set up a certain expectation in your audience. “Oh, so you think you’re as good/hard/dark as Demon/Dark Souls do you?”. Well in this case the name is earned. Wayward souls is bleak, challenging and brilliant. It’s gothic horror at it’s very best, wrapped up in a 16 bit game engine straight from the SNES era of classic’s like Secret of Mana and Link to the Past.

I have not finished Wayward Souls yet, but every spare moment I have, I pick it up. I love Wayward Souls. I mean I really love it. I’ve barely got a grasp on what it all means, how it’s structured and what I’m doing, but from what it’s shown me so far, it could be one of my games of the year.

It’s a 2D, top down action game, where you play as a variety of different genre character classes. The Rogue does more damage with back stabs. The wizard shoots fireballs. You get the idea.

2014-05-09 16.41.26And it’s got the same level of quality in the level design and the audio and visuals as those classic SNES games too. It’s a really charming looking game with a retro aesthetic, and the pixel art isn’t just evoking those games from the past, it’s making new and interesting creature designs inspired by those classics.

With a bit more combat and less problem solving than those classic RPG’s, there’s also a greater variety to the enemy types and the strategies you use to defeat them.

Each of the character classes plays very differently too, and going form one to the other is both engaging and challenging. You might come to rely on the warriors shield, but when you realize the Rogue can stun enemies with a sliding kick, you’ll realise each class is balanced and has it’s own strengths and weaknesses.

2014-05-08 19.24.19The structure of the game is unique, and lends itself well to mobile play. Much like Rogue Legacy, each death allows you to choose an entirely new character class and totally changes the style of play. While I started as a valiant knight on a stormy, dark landscape soaked with rain, lamenting the death of his fellow warriors, my second life saw me take on the role of a rogue trapped in a mine who had to find his way out. Death is permanent and heartbreaking (with a little tombstone punctuating the finality of your defeat), but each run will earn you more money to unlock new skills and abilities for future use.

I still haven’t got a handle on how this all works, but all I can think about right now as I write this is that I want to play more. I see that there’s a story that I’m slowly uncovereing with each play through, and although each level is random, there are stages that you unlock, so I am getting further and further in the game. And I don’t want it to ever stop.

2014-05-08 19.39.37The most impressive part of Wayward Souls is how the developers have crafted a hardcore action game with punishing difficulty, but made it perfectly playable and natural on a touch screen. This is a dark, foreboding world that’s full of danger, and the tough-but-fair difficulty curve combined with the absolutely epic soundtrack make for a moody, gothic fantasy masterpiece.

It’s an action game that plays well on mobile. It’s a game with Souls in the title that lives up to it’s name. It’s a epic, dark fantasy tale that you can play for minutes or hours and have a satisfying play session. It makes your mobile device appear in your hands and you won’t remember picking it up.

It’s the best mobile game I’ve ever played.

5 reasons mobile gaming will never die out of 5

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