If the idea of a side-scrolling brawler-meets-RPG, with an engaging story and gorgeous art style to boot, sounds like your cup of tea, then Young Souls should be well and truly on your radar.
From 1P2P and The Arcade Crew, Young Souls technically came out in August. But since it’s currently only available on Stadia, and nobody seems to count that anymore (sorry, Google), we’ve had some hands-on time with a Steam preview build to see what we have to look forward to when it comes to PC and consoles later this year. The short answer? There’s a lot to look forward to.
The initial set-up of Young Souls isn’t your typical RPG. High school-aged twins Jenn and Tristan live with a mad professor on the outskirts of town, a place they don’t really fit in. As such, they’ve been skipping school for a while – but there’s no time for a truancy officer to come a-knocking before the pair are swept off to a parallel goblin dimension. Upon returning home from a regular trip into town, the twins find their home broken into, and the Professor is nowhere to be found. But the super-secret part of his office is open, and that’s where Jenn and Tristan find a portal to transport them to an unknown world. They have no idea what’s waiting for them, but they’ve got to jump in to save the Professor, right?
That’s as far as the story goes in the demo we’ve been privy to, but I’m rather glad it kept its cards close to its chest. I’m excited to learn more about Jenn and Tristan, and how they came to live with the Professor (and, indeed, who the Professor really is). These are well-written, instantly likeable characters, and I can’t wait to see how they develop throughout the game.
And since there’s two of them, Young Souls can be played in co-op, with each player taking control of their own character. Both Jenn and Tristan have their own loadout, and as you’ll play you’ll gather new weapons and armour for them – yes, loot! Equipment might not be quite as deep and varied as other RPGs, but with stats, set bonuses, perks and a weight limit to keep in mind, finding the right loadout will undoubtedly be a very satisfying part of the game for many players.
The highlight of Young Souls, however, is its combat, where the game’s side-scrolling brawler DNA comes into it. Equipped with swords and shields, Jenn and Tristan march into battle on a 2D plane, slicing their way through enemies as they spawn onto the screen. It’s surprisingly intense, requiring players to be on-point with blocks, dashes and parries to truly succeed. In single player, you can switch between the twins with the touch of a button, so if one is low on health you can tag the other one in. In co-op, both twins will be on screen at one time, working together to take down their foes.
Small fry are fairly easy to slash through, but it’s when you come up against bigger, meaner enemies that you’ll need to keep your wits about you. Go in all-guns-blazing and you’ll soon find yourself dead on the ground, and upon revival you’ll need to start the current dungeon all over again. Of course, as you level up and gain better equipment, combat will become easier and more satisfying – though bigger and stronger enemies await, to push your limits even further. You’ll also gain the power to use magic spells, allowing combat to become more varied as you progress.
Young Souls is a beautiful-looking game with a unique, cartoon-ish art style. It’s inviting (even when you’re getting torn to shreds by a goblin), and it paints a world that’s fun to explore. When they’re not slaying monsters, Jenn and Tristan can explore their human world and the goblin world – along with the ways they intersect, like the goblin weaponsmith who lives down a well in the town centre. There’s plenty of people to talk to and places to explore, all wonderfully designed and animated.
There’s no fixed release date just yet, but developer 1P2P is confident Young Souls will be available on PC, PS4, Xbox One and Switch before the end of the year. We’re very much looking forward to playing more, so watch this space for more coverage as the release date draws closer.
In the meantime, you can wishlist Young Souls on Steam.