22 June 2024

Young Souls presents itself as a mix of elements between side scroller Hack and Slash and RPG, wrapped in very interesting environments and culminating in the adventure of two twin brothers, Tristan and Jenn, who live in the mansion of their adoptive father, simply known per professor. Little did they know that they would forever change the life of this peculiar town that has a secret that few know.

The adventure begins when the professor disappears without a trace. The entire mansion is shrouded in mystery and a specific location is completely off-limits to the brothers, for security reasons. It turns out that after the disappearance of his adoptive father, curiosity, and concern get the better of them and the exploration of this area leads to the discovery of a community of goblins that have been living under the surface. The story unfolds along lines that are sometimes seldom addressed in titles of the genre. Although the whole environment is somehow appealing to the youngest, it addresses topics such as the difference between good and bad, moral choices, and the consequences of their actions. The depth of the story is in fact one of the points that somehow separates Young Souls from other Hack and Slash titles, where the objective is essentially to fight and defeat the Boss of that level.

It’s not all bad to feel some affection for the bad side of the force, right? That’s because even the story of the bad group is appealing. The interactions between the characters, the problems with each other, and even the pain of loss. All the lines of text do a good job of setting the player up and pointing out all the personality traits of each character. Jenn apparently has a need to swear to express her displeasure, but she has a giant heart and in a way, this is the way she found to hide her feelings. However, there is an option to apply a profanity filter. I was actually curious to test this option.

But why do Goblins, or rather Gobbons, the correct name for the race, live underground? Both sides just want to live their lives on the surface and this is where the focus of decisions between taking down the enemy or helping the enemy intrudes on the story. Who will really is the bad guy in the midst of all this?

The underground is divided into 4 different dungeons that have several paths until culminating in the boss area. In this sense, you also feel a hint of Metroidvania, as there are places where access is prohibited unless you have a specific key with you. It is possible to collect 4 different keys that allow the opening of specific zones and loot crates that contain equipment.

Although with very generic scenarios and without much difference between them, enemies change their attack type. Thus, it is necessary to adapt the combat style and even the type of equipment that is brought to the different areas. There is a wide variety of defensive equipment that wedges between armor and headgear and that have different effects. For example resistance to ice attacks, fire, or effects like more speed.

The gameplay is quite fun, with the possibility of choosing one of the brothers at your pleasure, with the simple touch of a key in a kind of tag-team mechanic. There is also some depth to this mechanic, as it allows each character to recover a portion of their lost health when not in the fight. This of course is in solo mode. In local co-op mode or through remote play (on Steam), it allows players to select, within the two brothers, the character they want and adventure together.

The player has at his disposal, as indicated above, defensive and offensive equipment. In more practical ways, the use of a shield makes it possible to block enemy attacks and even parry them. Although something complicated, the feeling of parrying an enemy with a great club is super satisfying. Regarding weapons, they are distributed between two-handed and one-handed weapons. In this sense it is possible to equip a sword and a shield, both need one hand to use them, two daggers, one in each hand, or two-handed weapons such as grand swords or axes. Still in this sense, each weapon performs fast or slow attacks, so the player has to adapt to the attack style. Each piece of equipment also has a specific weight, in the style of a souls-like. This will have practical effects on the character’s movement.

There is no skill tree, but there are stats that can be improved according to the player’s wishes and separated into 3 main branches. Strength, Stamina, and Stamina. Each new level automatically attributes points in these stats without any intervention from the player, however, there is the possibility of receiving a gym card that allows you to visit the city’s gym and apply points in one of these branches. This is a physical activity that requires some finger dexterity from the player. So each branch is equivalent to a different physical activity, Strength is equivalent to lifting weights, Resistance is equivalent to sit-ups and Stamina is equivalent to cardio/cycling. Depending on the player’s performance, it is possible to receive one star or even five stars in the activity, which is equivalent to more points.

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Young Souls is undoubtedly an interesting title and lovers of the genre will find many hours of fun in this one.

[This review is based on a retail build of the game for PC provided by Streamforge]