Soulless: Ray of Hope is an adventure game developed by Frisky Fatal Games, following the journey of a bright chibi-like character by the name of Elin. Influenced heavily by games like Limbo, Soulless plays very much like a side-scrolling platformer, with puzzles, secrets and collectables to find as you journey to the end of the world to save your friend.
The game starts off very slow, a short intro sequence with our character in a bedroom, a bright fairy visiting us and telling the player that we must go save our friend. Jumping through a hidden passage in the floor we are transported into a dark world, where all is black and red, the only light we find is within our own character, the fairy and some light bugs that fly around. Set across several stages, you will continually head to the right, avoidi9ng hazards, defeating the evil monsters and resisting the temptation of sin.
The game will last you just under 2 hours, however since it is designed in a very similar manner to Limbo you can find quite a bit of difficulty in the puzzles and hazards laid around. With 3 endings, you will also find some replayability in the game itself, though due to the frustrations of the later levels you might not immediately want to replay. There are about 5 light orbs to save and a few secret rooms along the way, giving some context to the world as well as backstory.
Soulless is immensely simple control wise, A for jump, left Thumbstick for movement and X to talk and interact with the world. It adds in gravity shifting light beams, where you will be clinging to the floor and ceiling both to progress through the world. You can grab onto ledges, activate elevators, moveable platforms and more, making a path to reach the end of the levels.
There are also “boss” rooms, mostly having the character on a timer as a side of the screen is filled with demonic hands trying to grab at you. Moving as fast as you can, you will go under, over and through obstacles to escape. There is also one combat room, where you will fight what seems to be a major boss, using gravity to make the boss kill itself through its own attacks.
You will be tasked with moving boxes to allow you to reach higher ledges, or to weigh down pressure pads. Figure out sequence passwords for doors, or making colours out of the 3 primary ones. Whilst figuring out these puzzles you will also be making use of gravity switching, to move the boxes to the ceiling or clearing rubble. On top of the straightforward puzzles there are also hidden ones, like falling through fans that are not moving.
Overall thoughts and feelings
The music in Soulless is amazing, moving from piano pieces to guitar, you have a track for the calm puzzle solving sections, the running from horror or simply flying in a hot air balloon. The tracks are sadly too short though, with loops lasting around 30 seconds at points, or with little variance that eventually leads to them becoming repetitive.
While the music is inspiring and the vistas beautiful to look at, the game itself isn’t as moving as it advertises itself. It feels too egotistical, forcing an emotion onto you which you don’t truly feel as you progress. There are choices you need to make, mostly confined to the ending, which don’t really instil any sense of reason or emotion, with little indication to which is the correct answer. The conversations from NPCs are too condescending or add little to the overall experience. Parts of the game create scenes of emotion better, where we only have the music and scenery to admire and feel over.
Soulless has been made in a time where games like this are commonplace, recreating the wheel rather than reinventing it. Playing through I was just thinking about Limbo, Rayman and Super Meat Boy, it didn’t have any amazing new mechanic or style to set itself apart from others games in the genre. It is also plagued by bugs and glitches, both game and immersion breaking, where my character would glide across the floor, be flung from entrances, fall through objects, die when not touching a hazard, changing gravity twice in a row, text failing to show, NPCs being where they shouldn’t be and more.
Overall Soulless: Ray of Hope gets a 5/10, it’s too short and uninventive in a genre that relies on new ideas and fun mechanics. The levels become tedious and obnoxious later on, with the screen failing to keep up with the character at times or requiring a death to see the hazards ahead. The story feels unfinished, the meaning is lost under all the text padding and guidance and the endings are rather unrewarding. This could be a good game to play with friends, or if you’re into the Limbo style, but don’t expect greatness.