By Jaime Skelton (MissyS)
As an introverted gamer, I’ve always preferred games that I can solo or co-op with a friend. Unfortunately for those like me, many co-op games lately have been focused on a ‘party’ experience of 4-8 players. So a game like Young Souls was certain to catch my eye at PAX West.
Young Souls is a side-scrolling RPG beat ’em up from 1P2P and The Arcade Crew, and offers both single player and two-player co-op. The game’s story focuses on the tale of two teenage twins, Jenn and Tristan, and both play a core role in the gameplay. Two players can each control one of these teenagers, or a single player can control one while the other can be swapped to at any time. While I didn’t get a sense of the single-player mode, I did sit down with the game developers to experience what two-player co-op was like.
Each twin is a separate character with their own inventory and equipment that players can choose. There are multiple types of weapon styles, each which have a noticeable impact on the combat, and players are best served by taking two complementary weapons rather than using the same type of gear; for instance, one player can use a sword and shield and draw some attention from enemies while the other uses a two-handed sword to bring in slow but deadly attacks from behind. We made two dungeon runs, once with the same weapons and once with different weapons, and the improvement in teamwork was noticeable once we differentiated our combat skills.
Young Souls is filled with dozens of dungeons, which can be visited in any order, so players are not limited to a linear story path as they are with other action RPGs. Together players will choose a destination and open a portal to the dungeon. Each dungeon takes place across many screens, in which multiple fights spawn in order, including mini-bosses and final bosses. I have to pause here to point out that the entire game is rendered in beautifully stylized graphics that gives me a bit of a Transitor meets Odin’s Sphere: painted in vivid contrasted tones that compliment the atmosphere of the game.
The game’s combat is brawler styled, with movement along a Z-axis like 90’s era arcade beat ’em ups. There are two different attacks which have combos, along with a dodge and a special magic ability. In our case, we had one player set with an ice spell that could freeze enemies in place for a short time; the other had a damaging fire spell. If one player is downed, the other can rush over and revive them; if both fall in combat, they are kicked out of the dungeon and must try again.
Young Souls is still in development, but the game’s team estimates there may be about 20 hours of play when the game releases. You can find out more at the official website.