Young Souls’ robust, action-packed gameplay experience proves to be both engaging and accessible.
Every young person faces challenges while coming of age. For better or worse the hands we’re dealt by birth play a huge part in who we eventually become. For red-haired twins Jennifer and Tristan, and their recently adopted father, growing closer as family will be the only thing that can save them from an invading army of goblins from below the surface of the earth.
Young Souls is a beat ’em up style action RPG where two players take on the role of Jenn or Tristan on an adventure to save the world and rescue their adopted father known as The Professor. Through his research The Professor has discovered that the earth is not only hollow, but inhabited by a species called the gobbon. Under the flag of a tyrannical new leader called Dwarvengobben, many of the stone worshipping goblins have gathered against the human societies, while others who disagreed fled to the surface as refugees with the professors help. After learning of the professor’s opposition to the surface invasion, Dwarvengobben kidnaps the professor leaving Tristan and Jenn to take up arms against the gobbon surface invasion.
Our story Introduces combat mechanics during a gobbon attack where Jenn and Tristan must defend their town from the subterranean invaders. Combat controls are deep and fluid, and while there are options to adjust difficulty, the recommended level offers formidable A.I. that requires an immersive level of concentration to outsmart your opponents who are always working against you, making for a rewarding challenge with each gobbon you face. Players soon learn the importance of avoiding attacks, and can use a dodge roll, which has a stamina cooldown, block or perform a parry that stuns enemies by timing blocks correctly. You can charge up regular attacks for more damage, and there are even power attacks that require mana, as equipment eventually plays a bigger role in how each character fights.
After familiarizing yourself with the controls, the story returns to a less chaotic time and recounts how the twins learned of the goblin invasion. When the professor goes missing, Jenn and Tristan discover his underground lab and Moon portal he used to journey to the wolrd of the gobbon. The lab’s portal is connected to a network of other portals in the gibbon realms. Teleportation is powered by stone runes that allow travel to the various locations underground. While Dwarvengobben and his evil hordes seek these powerful runes to invade the surface, our pair of heroes will need to find them first to rescue the professor and save as many innocent goblins and surface dwelling humans as they can.
Gameplay gradually evolves into an addictive loop of exploring underground dungeons and returning home to rest and manage your inventory. Resting at home is required to receive benefits from leveling up, and there are a variety of cosmetic items, equipment, and upgrades for your weapons and abilities available to buy in town. There is even a gobbon sanctuary under the city that is populated by rescued peaceful goblins who are ready to help put a stop to Dwarvengobbon’s plans.
The search for runes of power takes place in one of four large subterranean complexes. Clearing rooms will reveal moon gates you can connect back to the professor’s lab as checkpoints to fast travel and continue on from. Rooms will also separate into multiple winding paths giving players a lot to explore and a unique experience behind every locked door.
The variety of characters, enemies, items with a strong focus on storytelling create an immersive atmosphere. The artwork beautifully blends 2D and 3D animation with a colorful cartoon style that makes gameplay and cutscenes look buttery smooth. The orchestral score provides a dark ambience fit for dungeon crawling and sound effects are always impactful.
The introduction requires some investment similar to starting an older role playing game, as the story unfolds in a deeper way than most side scrolling beat ’em ups. There is a lot to learn about the world and characters for players who don’t mind some fun reading and inventory management between all the action. The pattern of gameplay sets a stage for fierce fighting using clever strategies to outfit each sibling for different play styles as they gain levels, and buy new clothes and equipment like magically enchanted sneakers. A second player can jump in and out of play seamlessly or a single player can swap between the siblings allowing one twin to recover from recent damage when out of combat. Some of the subtle combat timing is easy to miss when sharing a chaotic screen, so players may face the disadvantage of a clunky camera angle if they are spread too far apart. Another small element missing from an otherwise grand experience would be some talented voice acting to embolden characters’ personalities.
Playing Young Souls is a wonderfully well rounded experience that has a lot to offer. Dungeon crawling combat mechanics are a rewarding challenge while exploring the expansive levels. Characters have charming relationships and humorous interactions as the story builds with lots of surprises along the way. Whether the human world falls or gobbon kind learns how to live in peace will be determined by the brave explorations of Young Souls’ twins Tristan and Jenn.
Beautifully blended cartoon artstyle
Fluid combat mechanics with a rewarding level of recommended difficulty.
Charming story, characters, and worldbuilding details
Lots of useful items, equipment, clothing, and upgrades to collect and unlock
Storytelling relies on text delivery without voice overs
Slow paced introduction
Some clunky camera angles during cooperative play
4 out of 5
Review code provided by PR. Young Souls is out now!