Generally when a game features smart-mouthed teens fighting against the world, I roll my eyes, but Young Souls from developer 1P2P Studios made me a believer. With a striking art-style and challenging but fun combat the game has more depth than meets the eye and delivers a fun experience.
The story revolves around Jenn and Tristan, twins adopted by a mild-mannered scientist who disappears suddenly. They discover he was helping protect a portal to a goblin dimension that is determined to invade earth.
Jumping through the portal, the twins are thrust into an adventure that tests even their inexhaustible sprits. On the way they meet denizens of the goblin realm, allies they didn’t know existed on Earth, and grow their skills as they battle through four unique biomes to try and protect Earth and save their adoptive father.
While Young Souls is presented without any voiceovers, the dialog and little narrative moments add a lot of nuance to the game. It shows us the Goblin Kingdoms preparations and how Jenn and Tristan are dealing with all of their experiences through dialog snippets and cutscenes.
The game is designed from the ground up to be played solo or co-op. Jenn and Tristan start the game as exactly the same. Their equipment and stats are identical but as the game progresses, equipment, training stats and playstyles make them distinctly different.
As the worlds are explored different weapon types, armors and clothes can be found that give unique skills, speeds and attack types. This means Jenn could be built as a heavy weapon tank and Tristan a dual-dagger-wielding speedster.
When playing solo each character is switchable with a quick button press, making some quick tactics possible; in co-op each is controlled by a separate player. They also each have one revive (or additional life) available so if they are both defeated twice in a run it is back to the main hub.
Combat is relatively simple, with a block/parry action, simple and charged attack, skills (unlockable with weapons or accessories) and special accessory attacks being the extent of the options. This makes combat snappy and simple yet still challenging and fun, more of a beat-em-up than a straight action RPG.
Exploration is one of my favorite aspects of Young Souls thanks to how well it implements fast travel. Once all the Earth zones are discovered they can be traveled to in a hurry. This made shopping, leveling or the occasional delivery quests a breeze.
As far as the dungeons are concerned, traveling through the Goblin Kingdoms is pretty standard, but every major area has a gate so it can be returned to once discovered from the main hub. Every level has some gated areas that need special keys to unlock so they are revisited as the game progresses.
This adds a Metroidvania-lite aspect to Young Souls that is actually fun and not overwhelming. The progression aspects of the game are based around leveling, getting better gear (and upgrading it) and beating bosses to get more keys and explore further.
The Final Word
The whole package seems relatively simple but actually has a depth that is not overwhelming and leads to a satisfying and fun experience. There is a nice if fluffy narrative flair to the game that pulls the story along, and the exploration and loot makes some nice hooks to keep progressing fresh.
With a beautiful art-style, fun combat, interesting worlds and a good balance of loot and exploration Young Souls is an enjoyable experience that does not overstay its welcome.