Most people don’t need much from a platformer. A little variety in the background, a few interesting puzzles, or even interesting ways to make things blow up are enough to make most people happy. The question lies in whether that’s enough for anyone to want to spend any money. Usually, it isn’t.
Sadly, Soulless is lacking any really interesting gameplay elements. It mainly consists of running around in a sphere of darkness and firing at zombies with a machine gun. This wouldn’t be so bad if it was a machine gun with different varieties of bullets, or if the enemies acted more intelligent than a homing missile, but all you can do is point in their general direction and hold down the firing button.
The platforming elements are also a tad premature. The character jumps sloppily and can often miss a platform because he jumped just a little too early. Not that it matters, though, as there’s no falling damage or death pits. You just climb all the way back up and keep trying until you finally cross the divide. You can also jump over zombies if you try hard enough, but that often gets you swatted so you might as well stand still and fire until they explode.
Well, until you run out of bullets. This happens extremely often if you pick a character with high “speed” as the speed translates into firing the machine gun faster with lesser damage. The enemies still die just as fast, but you waste a whole ton of bullets per enemy. This can be particularly devastating in levels without any reloads scattered around. For instance, there’s a level where dozens of zombies fall from above and you have to stand still and shoot them until you run out of bullets and die. It’s almost guaranteed that you will die, as the zombies tend to fall faster than you can shoot them. There’s also nowhere to run and hide.
The graphics are a little better. The backgrounds aren’t very varied, but they are interesting to look at occasionally. The enemies are poorly animated sprites that explode into blood and guts when they die, though. There’s nothing that exceptional there. The character looks the same no matter who you pick to play, and it can’t even shoot downwards. Upwards, forward, and slanted upwards, sure! But when zombies are crawling underneath your crouched fire, it seems really silly to not allow you to fire downwards.
The sound is ok. The machine gun sounds like a semi-automatic machine gun, the doors open with a classic sliding sound, and the canisters occasionally clink against the ground. However, half the zombies don’t make any noticeable sound when they die, and the other half scream annoyingly loudly. The music for the menu and marine selection screen is actually pretty good, though. It’s a shame it’s only heard for a short period before the jarring track of the actual game loops forever. None of this would be particularly bad, but there’s no way to turn off the sound or music. You’re stuck with it.
Overall, there’s really no reason to pay money for Soulless. It’s a pretty good attempt for a first try, but it’s not something that’s anywhere near the level of quality for half the free games on the market. For instance, The Magical Flying Pink Pony Game (google it) is way more fun and it can last you for hours!
Until Soulless is seriously improved, $12.95 is too high a cost. It needs a variety in levels, better sound and music, and something more than just holding down the firing button.
• Multiple characters
• Character choice doesn’t matter
• Poor graphics
• Annoying sound and music
• Monotonous gameplay