Young Souls Review (PS4) – An Opulent Side Scrolling RPG Brawler With Plenty Of Heart And Wit To Spare
Young Souls PS4 review. It always comes as something of a surprise to me that more developers haven’t attempted to blend in RPG sensibilities with the enduring charm of the good ol’ fashioned side scrolling brawler. The latest attempt at pulling off this enticing genre synergy, Young Souls casts players as a pair of unruly siblings who must rescue their foster father from the clutches of a bunch of evil, subterranean Goblins before they begin their invasion of the surface world in earnest.
Young Souls PS4 Review
The first thing that you’ll notice from the off is just how handsome Young Souls looks. With its pleasing pastel palette and graphic novel visual style that simultaneously dips its toes in the waters of anime influences while also being retina-strokingly smooth and easy on the eyes, Young Souls is a beautiful looking offering that still proves that a confident and fresh art style can stand shoulder to shoulder with technical prowess when it comes to crafting attractive visuals. Put simply, your eyes will love for you for playing Young Souls.
Peel away Young Souls attractive veneer however and something of a charming, if boisterous, adventure remains and ostensibly at the centre of that notion are our two main sibling protagonists, Jenn and Tristan. With both of them wearing something of a resting fury face for ninety percent of the time, it’s immediately clear that these titular young souls will be anything but meek.
Deeply scarred by the loss of their biological parents and thrust into a society that mocks them and their refusal to integrate at large, Jenn and Tristan confront their plight with a mixture of biting wit and sarcasm that basically fails to endear them to anybody, but makes for some chuckle-loaded comedy all the same. With a whole bunch of meta commentary on popular culture and some truly acerbic insults thrown by this incendiary brother and sister combo – much of which occurs during the banter heavy conversations that the two siblings frequently enjoy, Young Souls writing is witty and engaging enough that you’re often sat there grinning like a loon before you start putting feet in Goblin asses once more.
Something that I must make note of really quickly is that Young Souls boasts a handy togglable profanity filter. This is something actually of a nice little concession that essentially makes Young Souls suitable for just about all ages. While it might seem like a trite inclusion in the grand scheme of things, this filter allows younger players (and by proxy their parents) to enjoy boisterous nature of Young Souls rebellious teen comedy without the swears that otherwise tend to permeate the dialogue. More of this please.
Beyond its story beats, Young Souls attempts to walk the tightrope between RPG and side-scrolling brawler genres, but ends up feeling more like a brawler with loot and upgrades, rather than producing a facsimile of anything resembling deep RPG systems. In practice, the RPG bits of Young Souls essentially add up to collecting loot, upgrading your gear, buying new gear, having throwaway dialogue with a bunch of non-important NPCs and occasionally being able to choose one reply other another in a key conversation that doesn’t really seem to do much other than result in banter.
While it might seem like on the surface at least that Young Souls RPG aspirations are perhaps something of a missed opportunity, allow me to reassure you that it still remains more than sum of its parts. Yes, Young Souls is essentially a side-scrolling brawler with loot and upgrades (in a manner not entirely dissimilar to the likes of Castle Crashers), but it works.
Able to be played in solo or local multiplayer, Young Souls is essentially split into three parts. The first has you exploring the town and surrounding areas that the siblings call home, talking to various characters, upgrading your gear and purchasing new equipment, while the second portion falls into more familial arcade territory that has you moving from left to right, smacking up monsters, collecting loot and defeating bosses. The main wrinkle here though, is that you have stamina and mana bars that can are drained when you perform evasion rolls or special attacks respectively – requiring some strategy and frugal use on the part of the player as a result.
When it comes to the exploration side of things, Young Souls provides all manner of shops and other vendors for players to interact with facilitating their progression through the game as a result. Speaking of progression, you’ll occasionally collect special gym tokens that can be used in the local ‘Happy Fit’ gymnasium to train up your strength, stamina and damage resistance stats via a mini-game that has you timing button presses to get the best possible result. While this whole mini-game sequence is carried off with the same style that is threaded through the rest of Young Souls, it all feels a bit trite and pointless – I’d much rather have a fixed stat increases provided regardless of my ability to complete a dated mini-game.
Young Souls actually does a great job of making its progression feel both layered and satisfying. Equipping new and increasingly powerful gear proves to be an evergreen, if familiar, thrill, while defeating bosses not only feels good but also provides you with a new vendor to provide additional upgrades that augment your progression further still. On a fundamental level, if you’ve ever wanted a side-scrolling brawler with a Diablo style loot system, then Young Souls is going to push a whole heap of buttons for you and then some.
Though you do a whole heap of running around in Young Souls – cutting to and from the town and all the subterranean locations that you’ll do battle in, it doesn’t feel nearly like the slog it should do thanks to a handy fast travel mechanic and the ability to quite literally fast forward through cut scenes to get you back into the action as soon as possible.
Young Souls also has a neat way of dealing with solo play, too. Ideally designed to be played co-operatively, should you play through Young Souls on your lonesome, you can essentially tag in and out the other sibling, providing you with a second wind of sorts as you can bring an all-new fighter onto the battlefield with a fresh health bar to keep your prospects alive. The risk with this approach though, is that if one of the siblings is downed in combat, you have to resuscitate them in time, otherwise you don’t get to bring them into battle again until the current skirmish has been finished.
What feels like something of an oversight though, is the fact that Young Souls doesn’t currently permit online multiplayer, which is a shame given that it might not always be possible to have a friend around locally to charge through the game with you. Here’s hoping that this omission will be addressed in a future patch. Furthermore, when it comes to flaws, it’s certainly fair to say that while Young Souls side-scrolling brawling is perfectly enjoyable, the level designs are largely straightforward, corridor-based affairs with a few traps thrown in to spice things up. Basically, if you’re looking for the sort of imaginative and freewheeling level design that characterises the best offerings in the side scrolling brawler genre, such as Streets of Rage 4, you’re going to be disappointed.
In the end though, a breezy brawler with a dash of RPG sensibilities and oodles of charm, Young Souls reveals itself to be a resolutely engaging offering that stands out on account of its opulent presentation, loot scooper gameplay and cast of witty and entertaining characters which allows this genre hybrid to punch above its weight. Sure enough it can’t quite stand shoulder to shoulder with the best brawlers of the genre, but much like its rebellious protagonists, Young Souls has enough riotous character and scrappy potential that you can’t help but pick up the controller for another play.
Young Souls is out now on PS4.
Review code kindly provided by PR.