Monday, February 24, 2014

Review #96: Soul of Darkness

 For five bucks, you could do much worse.
 Gameloft is a Company known for their Mobile Phone games, which rip of various, often popular, games. Such is the case with Soul of Darkness, it's a Castlevania rip-off through and through, and isn't even ashamed of it. While Mobile Phones were the home of this game, it received a DSI port, which is the one I'm gonna be tackling.
 Remember how Dracula loves to take the Belmonts' betrotheds into his castle and having said Belmont get to the Castle, then taking him down? Same deal here. Except that the main character is named Kale and the Vampire is named Ritter. The story does pull a bit of a twist later on, but it's no biggie, story isn't the focus of the game, and it's just a means to an end. Curiously enough, you can actually take pictures and place real faces on the character's portrait, to often hilarious results.
 Soul of Darkness plays like a simplified, watered down Metroidvania. The game is divided in eleven, very short, stages. Even if the stages are pretty small, you do get a Metroidvania styled map on the bottom screen, but you won't really need it. Each level houses a couple of hidden Life and Magic Orbs, collecting four of either extends your Health and Magic bars respectively. The variety of stages is pretty nice, and puzzles while not hard at all, are decently entertaining, they usually involve using Magic, like the Ice Spear to create footholds or the Fire Sword to destroy fragile platforms. The game is pretty easy, as a whole, and the checkpoint system is very generous, it saves after you enter each room, and dying makes you restart at the room's entrance, with refilled health and magic bars. It's also a bit of a necessity, the game failed to load an event after clearing all the monsters, thankfully you can choose to "restart" from the checkpoint at any moment, after restarting and clearing all the moments again, the game proceeded as intended.
 Kale has access to two different weapons, an Ice Lance and a Fire Sword. You can switch weapons at the tap of a button, and each one has it's own combo and magic attack. As previously stated, Magic Attacks are usually used for puzzling, but the affinity of each weapon can sometimes deal extra or less damage on certain foes. Furthermore, defeating enemies or breaking certain objects produces purple orbs that can be used to upgrade your weapons. The game is fairly exploitable on this regard, as you can exit/enter rooms and completely make everything respawn, so that you can farm more purple orbs.
 While the game looks quite pretty on screenshots, the animation is actually quite choppy. The style they used is very Castlevania-like, which is a huge plus in my book, but in motion, it just doesn't look too good. Music and sound effects sound... cheap, as if not much care went into them, which makes sense as this game has roots on the Mobile Phone. Lastly, the game lasts 2 hours at most, with an unlockable hard mode. The presentation is easily this game's weakest aspect, luckily the gameplay makes up for it, as simple and shallow as it is.
 What can one make of Soul of Darkness? It's not terrible, it's fairly functional and at times entertaining, but there's nothing that sets this game apart from other Metroidvanias, it's also fairly short and uninvolved. But hey, for five bucks you could do much worse!
 5.5 out of 10

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