When it comes to a console, it is common to see games that make heavy use of the device’s gimmicks at the start of the console’s lifecycle, but these become rarer with the time. Originally released last year, 3Souls is a puzzle platformer that aims to heavily use the Wii U GamePad features. Thanks to a recent update, the game is now complete with the following two episodes.
The story begins with an introduction to Mustland, a world inhabited by creatures called ‘Ánimas’ who wears masks that protect their soul from their surroundings. This protection is essential for living. You are also taught that the Wii U Gamepad acts as a link between their world and the player, which is used to aim them in several obstacles and read the Ánima’s thoughts.
Each chapter is divided into several stages which serve as a checkpoint, and the object depends on the Ánima you are controlling. The gameplay is shared, with the TV screen used for platforming elements and the GamePad for solving puzzles. One of the early examples is using the GamePad screen to see hidden platforms when you are close to a camera, which often requires watching from the opposite side of the TV if you don’t move the controller in advance.
As soon as you move the Ánima, you are no longer able to see the hidden platforms, so both memory and timing will be needed to cross. If you fail, I highly recommend checking the hint again as some platforms or doors won’t work otherwise.
There are a variety of ways to use the GamePad for the puzzles, such as blowing into the microphone or capturing a certain color with the camera. The most common method that I noticed is using the controller’s gyroscope, which is used in different ways during the game.
As a console that didn’t succeed in embracing its tablet controller, it is nice to see that the developers tried as many ideas as possible even though their implementation is a hit or miss. While each mechanic is introduced as you progress, some of them can get old quickly or introduce trial and error moments that lead to frustration.
While the first two episodes can be forgiving with the difficulty, the third episode is another story. You are required to complete different types of puzzles while running against a timer and avoiding enemies. It is a worthy addition but may be problematic for those who have trouble with quick actions
The hardest stage requires to complete several puzzles as you run to the goal, and the difficulty relies upon avoiding projectiles and having a tight time limit. Running out of time or being hit will make you lose a life, and avoiding an attack will interrupt the progress you did in the puzzle.
You may only lose a couple of lives if you have quick reactions, and printing the colors in advance can be a big help. Although the puzzles aren’t too difficult, the gameplay mechanics may be a bit problematic for younger players or those who use accessibility options.
I was pleasantly surprised at how rich the world was. It features an enjoyable soundtrack and beautiful artwork for the cinematic cutscenes. The voice acting and collectibles also provided a great story narrative that keeps the player intrigued.
With that said, I highly recommend getting all the memories for each character. They provide valuable insight into their backstory, and the world they live in. If you get a game over at any point, you should also reset at the last checkpoint. This allows you to keep the memories and rules you found during the whole episode.
3Souls is a short but solid game. The puzzle setup has potential, but was lacking in execution and accessibility options. Even though it took three hours to complete, I would still recommend it for those who want to give this game a try.