REVIEW: ‘Young Souls’ is the Fun Game that Talked too Much (XSX)

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Young Souls - But Why Tho

Young Souls is a co-op RPG beat ’em up from developer 1P2P and publishers The Arcade Crew and DotEmu. Jenn and Tristan are two teens have been living under the Professors care and are total nobodies and outcasts in the rest of the town.  But when goblins kidnap the Professor, a thicker plot ensues and the siblings dive into a quest to save him and their new goblin allies.

Young Souls is an excellent merging of genres. As a beat ’em up foremost, it’s reminiscent of the classics from The Simpsons to Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. You move in three dimensions along a left to right track encountering enemies of varying potency. But as an RPG, vanquishing your foes racks of experience with which to level up and get stronger, as well as item drops ranging from weapons and armor to various currency items that allow you to level up gear. Each weapon and armor piece, as well as the clothing you can purchase in the main town, has unique qualities that may include special attacks, increased damage or crit chances, or negative attributes like vulnerabilities to certain elements.

Merging these two gameplay elements leads to a unique-feeling experience and a ton of extra motivation to keep trying again and again as you inevitably lose to some of the increasingly tough bosses. You’re likely to hit a point where you’re simply under-leveled because the game’s dungeons are seamlessly weaved together one after the next in a large map of branching paths and varying objectives. Even items you find in different levels altogether may help you unlock more gear or fight different bosses in previous levels, increasing the drive to keep spelunking even harder and the will to revisit old stomping grounds.

The combat of Young Souls is also quite well designed. While you can certainly manage with button mashing, there’s a whole combo system you can take advantage of through different button inputs. Blocks, parries, and dodge rolls help to broaden your combat prowess, as well as a tag-team system where you can swap between siblings with a single button to either chain together attacks, avoid taking damage, heal certain amounts of health, or revive your downed sibling.

Visually, the game is a delight. There’s an almost 3D feeling to the 2D visuals of the environments and while the world is simple, the very high fidelity of the art gives it a simultaneously modern and retro feel. The enemy goblins are a pretty standard-looking fair, but it’s certainly easy to distinguish the types of enemies and how difficult they’ll be to fell from one another in their visual language. The weapons and armor are also generally fairly cool in their design, though there’s not a lot of personality in much of the clothing. This is odd, given that the main characters are supposed to be big balls of personality.

I’ll be honest, I just don’t like them. And it all starts with their incessant swearing. I totally understand that kids swear up and down in no context for no reason. I work with kids of all ages every day. That doesn’t mean that writing a possibly age-accurate curse word-laden dialogue is going to endear me to that.

It’s an annoying quality in kids at best and it’s an unfortunately annoying quality about Jenn and Tristan. It’s not a case of trash-talking, potty-mouthed punks with quippy retorts. It’s just profanity for the sake of profanity, and it makes the already exceedingly lengthy dialogue that much harder to get through and that much less worth trying to.

Young Souls - But Why Tho

The dialogue altogether is just too much. Conversations draw on for too long and quickly lost my interest when they didn’t seem to reveal much of interest that I couldn’t surmise through context. Shorter bursts of text may likely have captivated me more, given there are interesting dynamics between the characters and the plot isn’t exactly dull.

Fortunately, if the dialogue bores or annoys you too, you can speed through it with the hold of a button (though I wish you could just skip it altogether because that still takes up an inordinate amount of time). Even more, fortunately, the UI doesn’t punish you for not reading. There are a number of visual cues that direct you to your next objective if it isn’t already obvious, which most of the time it is because it’s just “keep pushing forward through the dungeons.”

One UI annoyance however is that you have to navigate several menus to find fast travel options or maps. It’s not a huge deal, but I couldn’t even find the fast travel menu at first since it is not intuitively placed or well-labeled. And you don’t really need a map often necessarily, but in larger hub rooms, you don’t want to know which doors you’ve already opened or what level dungeons they lead to.

Overall though, Young Souls is a great new entry in the beat ’em up genre that is bolstered by its RPG elements. The RPG aspects are numerous and well-designed so as to keep you constantly engaged with new things to try out or enemies to take a swing at again. The fact that the whole game can be played in classic beat ’em up co-op or solo is an added bonus.

Young Souls is available now on PlayStation, PC, and Xbox via our Game Pass affiliate link.


Young Souls
  • 8/10
    Rating - 8/10
8/10

TL;DR

Overall though, Young Souls is a great new entry in the beat ’em up genre that is bolstered by its RPG elements. The RPG aspects are numerous and well-designed so as to keep you constantly engaged with new things to try out or enemies to take a swing at again. The fact that the whole game can be played in classic beat ’em up co-op or solo is an added bonus.