Wait, what’s happening? I seem to be falling through the sky, why? Let’s have a look around to see if I can find any clues that will answer that question. Hands. I see hands; hands are good because that means I’m not a whale or a bowl of cornflakes. What else? Lightning, so I’m definitely falling through a storm then. I wonder if my hair is all stuck up due to the static. Through the lightning I can see images of people. Who are they, what is going on? I need answers before I hit that object that’s below me. What’s the name of that object. It’s right on the tip of my tongue, b… bo… boa… boat. BOAT! I’m hurtling towards a boat!
Soul Axiom is a first-person story-driven adventure puzzler from the award winning team Wales Interactive and its opening cinematic give very little away. Even when you are on the boat nothing is really explained and you must figure out what to do, but this is what we want from our adventure games though, isn’t it? We don’t want everything laid out on a plate for us. It is only through exploration that you’ll activate the boat’s bright neon sail and mast allowing you to climb to the crow’s nest and then zip line onto the helm.
As you make your way through this opening level you will eventually discover a power: Phase. It is the first of four powers; the others are Play, Destroy and Corrupt. Phase lets you materialize and de-materialize certain objects. These objects are easily identified as they glow the same bright electric blue as your hands when you select the Phase power. This theme of colour-coordinating objects with the corresponding power is something that continues throughout the game. By using Phase you will soon manipulate a huge statue to complete a puzzle that raises a bridge letting you cross a chasm. It was here that I realised how intuitive Soul Axiom’s game play and puzzles are – I didn’t know what was happening yet, but it was clear what I needed to do to move to the next area.
It is only when you board a train, shortly after, that you will start to understand where you are. A Welcome video explains that you are in Elysia, a digital world that houses digital souls – copies of memories and dreams of anyone and everyone that wishes to upload them to Elysia’s servers. But again you’re left with even more questions. From Elysia’s central hub you can make your way into multiple memories, which may or may not provide answers. Each of these memories has puzzles which, once solved, will let you interact with a soul that reveals a fragmented part of the overall story. Also you can gather more titbits of information by keeping an eye out and collecting the numerous toy monkeys that are scattered around. This way of drip feeding and teasing the story helps to create an unsettled atmosphere, as you don’t really know who you are or even why you are really there until near the game’s ending.
The controls in Soul Axiom are straight forward and easy to use. Like most first-person games, movement and aim is controlled with the thumb sticks. Powers can be selected with either the D-pad or the bumper buttons and used with the trigger buttons. Square is used to interact with objects and X is used to jump (perfect for the parkour type sections).
Graphically Soul Axiom does an impressive job. The different memories all look varied and individual. The use of neon colours provides a constant reminder that you are not in the real world. This is highlighted perfectly when you first exit the train and enter the train station with its futuristic Tron-like look. The only issues I had with the game were that it seems overly dark (I had to bump up the brightness in the options) and that some of the cinematics were a little bit pixelated but never to the point of distraction.
The trophy list for Soul Axiom consists of story-related collectables and miscellaneous trophies. While most are fairly easy to obtain there is one collectable and two of the miscellaneous trophies that will either make or break you when you are pursuing the platinum.
Soul Axiom is a slow burner that holds its story close to its chest, only truly revealing itself in the later stages. This means that the first hour or so will leave you with more questions than answers but as you start to complete the memories and unravel plot you’ll want to see where the story is headed. If you enjoyed Master Reboot, the games predecessor of sorts, or exploration/puzzle games such as Myst then you should consider taking a trip to the digital world of Elysia.
NelMaNo Rating – 7/10