I recently received a copy of Soul Axiom from the kind folks at Wales Interactive, and after hearing it was a sci-fi adventure game with a bit of a creepy twist, I was instantly intrigued. You guys know I absolutely love creepy games, and I’ve been on a real cyberpunky sci-fi kick lately, so this seemed right up my alley!
The game opens with your character falling through the sky and landing unceremoniously on a spectral looking ship. You don’t know anything about yourself or where you are, but some exploration starts to reveal the basics of the game, and no sooner had I started to feel comfortable with my surroundings than a giant woman with wings let out a bird-like shriek and started ripping my spectral looking ship apart!
After being knocked unconscious, you wake up in a desert plain, with some neon lights up ahead. Neon lights usually spells out “tavern” to me, so of course I traipsed my way over there with great haste. A few times during my short stay in the desert area I actually jumped at flickering lights and apparitions that passed me by.
I was surprised to see Soul Axiom was remarkably pretty. The developers have gone for a fairly unique, somewhat simple cel-shaded style, which suits the atmosphere and cyberpunky feel of the game very well. Everything is brightly coloured and there are lots of digital elements to the environment, which makes sense as a little bit into the game it’s revealed that you are in a digital world where human souls and memories are stored to be revisited at your convenience. You get off a train at your soul station, and the exploring really begins to take form.
I went in totally blind, and was excited when I realised the game is mostly centred around puzzle solving. However, I will note, I am utterly terrible at puzzle games. Even so, I had a lot of fun with some of the earlier puzzles, and am looking forward to trying them in the later game too.
A big focus of Soul Axiom is the ability to “phase” objects in and out. One of the many quotes I’ve found on the walls mentions that one hand is to give and one is to receive, referring to the phasing mechanic. As a player, you use this to manipulate the environment, solve puzzles, and progress through the terrain. One thing I really appreciated was the fact that the puzzles felt naturally placed, and in the process of solving them I was taken on an adventure through the story and terrain. Exploration didn’t feel forced, it felt like a part of the whole experience, and was tied in really well with the other game mechanics in a way that just felt right. I would still like a little more guidance as a complete puzzle n00b, but at least they weren’t overly complicated. I just often spent a little time running around trying random things until I got the right solution.
I did, however, mention that the game was meant to be a bit of creepfest. Described as a “psychological thriller” by Wales Interactive, in fact. As a horror fan, I was actually relieved and even pleased to experience the creepy elements without feeling overpowered by jumpscares or gory imagery. They have managed to craft a disconcerting aesthetic, with atmospheric lighting, music and sounds to accompany it, which provides a deep experience without overdoing it. Despite feeling a little creeped out, not once did I scream, and you guys know that is saying something!
From a more practical standpoint, the game feels very smooth and despite it being in Early Access I haven’t encountered any bugs or crashes, which is practically unheard of when it comes to Early Access games these days.
For anyone who enjoys puzzle-solving games, particularly cyberpunk or sci-fi, this is definitely worth watching. Soul Axiom is in Early Access, as I mentioned, and is available at 25% off on Steam at the moment.
This post was written in collaboration with Wales Interactive. All thoughts here are my own!