Cool Name. Poor Gameplay.
Soulblight, a top-down Roguelike action RPG, separates itself by use of the taint system. Not to be confused with the area of your body where the sun don’t shine, this system does not involve traditional leveling or grinding but rather a give-and-take system. “Gluttony, Lust, Cannibalism – how far will you be willing to go to survive?” is the tagline of this $14.99 Switch eShop download. For example, if you active the Greedy taint, strength increases with wealth but shuns you when overpaying for goods. Unfortunately, this taint system, like rest of the game, is broken and simply not fun. Combat is also a one-button unresponsive mess.
Composed of organic life and machinery, it would seem like Soulblight would be an interesting game to explore. Unfortunately, this is very much not the case. Not only is the entire quest dark and difficult to see anything, the UI is very complicated and pretty much impossible to read thanks to small text and nonsensical symbols that the game assumes you already understand. Playing in docked mode on a HDTV is an eyestrain to read anything so you can only imagine what it is like playing on the small Switch screen. Worse yet, the entire game is depicted from a straight down perspective. In comparison, a game like The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds was top-down but everything was designed on an angle so enemies, items, and the environment can easily be navigated. Combine this with the dark visuals, playing this game is way harder than it should be as nothing can be distinguished. It wasn’t until I saw a button prompt did I find a chest in which I needed to open. Without this prompt, finding switches, chests, or other interactive parts of the environment is more luck than anything. There are some aspects of the environment that are also over-designed, like the long bridges that magically appear under your feet as you walk. Why does this bridge spawning animation need to happen? Why can’t there just be no bridge so the player can immediately move onto the next level? And why, WHY does everything create a turd-dropping-in-the-toilet sound effect!? If you click or do anything, the “plop” sound effect plays. It just doesn’t make any sense and is grossly annoying.
Even if you boost up the brightness all the way on your TV, the rest of the game is still a disaster. The game never instructs the player on what all the crazy symbols mean on the corners of the user interface, making gameplay confusing and frustrating. Thanks to the poor perspective, the player cannot tell which way an enemy is facing so combat is frustrating. Even opening chests is tedious as they have to be unlocked using a lockpick item, then the player has to re-tap the chest once unlocked to see what’s inside; why can’t the inventory screen just appear automatically? Money also is needlessly complicated. Instead of collecting, say 50 pieces of gold, the player can find a gold bar worth 50 gold. So it qualifies as an item and takes up an inventory slot. Then when you go to buy something, you need to trade it in for that amount. Then, upon death, the game automatically uploads your “progress %” and time to the leaderboard. However, the game doesn’t inform the player on progress during actual gameplay. And since this is a Roguelike, all progress resets upon game over unless you try and decipher the complicated treasure chest/inventory management screen.
Unless you hate yourself enough to suffer through the steep learning curve, tedium, and impossible visuals, only then can Soulblight be recommended. This is an unplayable mess of a game.
Not As Good As: making more taint jokes
Better Than: getting punched in the taint
Also Try: Two Worlds II (this game also had “the taint” to defeat)