Going into this, I knew nothing about the Swords & Souls series. Apparently, it’s a big one for Kongregate, or so some of the steam community claims. If it’s anything like this, I may have missed out. A semi-action semi-RPG game out of Armor Games studios, this is exactly the kind of game that flies under the radar, and that’s a bit of a shame. This is our Swords & Souls: Neverseen review.
As beautiful and orchestrated and star-studded as some games are, there are some masterpieces where I would rather stick my face in a blender than play. This is neither of those. While the art is good, it’s simple, but it’s consistent, there are no famous voice actors nor sweeping breathtaking vistas. However, it’s also not plagued with mind-numbing blandness, nor is it-thankfully- the visual version of a technicolor yawn. It’s done in 2-dimensional lineart and bright primary colors like grade school, and in this case, it works.
It’s a simple-looking, easy to get into and fun to play casual game. From what I’ve played, it seems easily addictive and reminds me of golden afternoons with my friends before adulthood and bills stepped in to ruin it all. The dialogue isn’t a masterpiece of theatre, and the plot gets no awards-but it’s fun. I think a lot of studios seem to forget that in their never-ending chase towards our credit limits. Fun is important. Subjective, certainly, but utterly necessary. A chef-d’oeuvre is pretty and all, but if a game makes you wonder how on earth you’ll ever get those hours of your life back (let alone a refund), it’s utterly missed the point.
You start off on a ship that’s crashed onto an island. And you’re a puppet…person…construct…thing. Think 9, with generic bodies that are only mildly complete and distinguishable by occasional stitching and clothes. The art is very stylized and cartoonish, but since it’s a fun little casual game, and not some puppet-based psychological horror, that’s for the best (A CGI puppet is creepier than a haunted doll, hands down). The tutorial’s as comprehensive as you need, and blessedly quick, with a yelling helmeted puppet who shouts a lot telling you what to do and where to go. You’re also scripted to die really early on. Just so you can get used to the feeling.
Combat itself is basic to begin with but does require participation to get the most out of it. It’s less twitchy than other offerings, likely in part to its 2d semi side-scrolling nature since all combats happen in the old school RPG battle screen setup, rather than in the world itself. You’ll also want to be a bit strategic, deciding when to spend your blocks-which are limited-and skills, which often have long cooldowns.
The UI is intuitive, simple and easy to navigate, and the bright colors make sure you don’t miss anything important. There is an auto-loot function but it’s similar to clicker games, where everything is just added in, with a small icon popping up by your character window to notify you when you have new items you can equip.
As you advance things like weapon shops, the museum and whathaveyou, unlock-though the weapon shop is unlocked in the tutorial itself. You, also, can upgrade your training area, which you absolutely should do, since it nets more XP and skills. You’ll be spending, probably, more time in the combat minigames than you will out in the world, to be honest since training grants you some pretty fast advancement in both skills and XP. And even the minigames are entertaining, with a musical backdrop like an old-school JRPG soundtrack-poppy synthed and slightly whimsical.
In fact, I can’t hope but be reminded of my Playstation glory days as I play, between the music and the battle screen turn-based combat. Sure you can block and stuff, but you still blithely wait for your enemy to take his turn before you can go again. You have combat music, you have chirpy music for the training sessions and more generic fare for in between. You won’t get the same level of storytelling, by any means, but it still makes me wax nostalgic. And maybe that’s part of the charm.
COMPARE TO: Classic 90s RPGs, Flash game RPGS
A PC key was provided for the purpose of review.