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Soul Axiom

By Bobfish22-10-2015
Soul Axiom

The Defence

Wales Interactive
Wales Interactive
Adventure, Indie
Release Date:

The Prosecution

Intel Core 2 Duo 2.0 GHz
AMD equivalent
Nvidia GeForce 8600
AMD equivalent
1 GB
2 GB

Billed by both players, and Wales Interactive themselves, as the spiritual successor to Master Reboot, Soul Axiom has some pretty hefty shoes to fill. A challenge which it approaches with relish, overflowing symbolism and a degree of flare that makes it difficult to remember. Wales Interactive were actually a mobile exclusive development studio until only a few scant years ago. Within only two years they have already (self) published three titles (one of them a port, granted) and are in the process of polishing up their fourth. That being what we are here to talk about today.

Honestly speaking, if not for the fact that Axiom is still listed as being an Early Access title, there would be little to clue you in on the fact it is incomplete. Wales Int may be new to the PC scene, as clearly evidenced by the not insignificant number of bugs Master Reboot was plagued with at launch, and the less intrusive that also afflicted Infinity Runner for a time. But already, it’s become clear that they are a rising star and have learned their lessons well. If there are any bugs to be found in Soul Axiom, they have not become pervasive. Given how well polished the game already is, and the way that the devs are adding new sections pretty much wholesale as they are completed, it would be more accurate to think of it as an episodic title. Albeit one with a less clearly defined end point and release schedule. Which is no bad thing in itself, because it is surely better to have an ‘episode’ complete and fully tested than rushed out with major issues.

No more chances after this.

No more chances after this.

As to the game itself, it’s a difficult one to pin down in many ways. Much like Reboot before it, there is a lot more effort put into world building and subjective symbology than precisely defined narrative exegesis. But where its predecessor had an overarching umbrella of contextualisation, Axiom stays rather more hands off in its approach to storytelling. Setting up a series of events and obtuse logic puzzles, it settles back and allows, nay, actively encourages the player to draw their own conclusions and form explanations on their own. Possibly interwoven into a cohesive whole, but just as easily left as a series of entirely self-contained nodes.

Gameplay consists primarily of tracking down various items in the environment, such as batteries to power up a teleporter. But soon adds in the “powers of Elysia” to assist you. Allowing you to build new pieces of the environment, such as a ramp to reach a higher ledge or conversely destroy a floor to give you access to the level below as well as making some things insubstantial, so you can pass through them or they can pass through others things. Topped off with a more subjective ‘corruption’ that...well, it corrupts stuff. Which can be useful in clearly visible, but much less concisely defined ways. But to keep things much simpler, these are triggered contextually, which is a little disappointing, but helps keep things more focused and less of a click everything until it works. Though chapters can be revisited as you learn new skills so you can look for new places and titbits of information to help elucidate the setting.

All of this is already set, refined and clearly defined bringing us back, full circle, to saying that it’s pretty much a finished game that simply hasn’t released all its chapters yet. All that remains, at this stage, is to finish off those final levels, add those new areas and let everyone run free with their own kind. Digging up hidden glyphs, curious text files and sneakily sequestered away side rooms that will tell us nothing, but explain everything. Or better yet, completely tear down the conclusions already drawn and add entire layers of new possibilities. After all, you are making your way through your own mind after you’ve popped your clogs. So it’s to be expected that there will be a lot of weirdness left over from your brain shutting down. Lack of oxygen makes you see weird shit you know?

Welcome to the not-grid.

Welcome to the not-grid.

There’s a lot to like indeed. The art style is striking and, though ‘simple,’ is striking and meticulously detailed. Like a smorgasbord of geek, there are multitudinous influences both subtle and not so subtle. The Grid from the Tron series being one of the more overt, especially in the early game. Meanwhile the music, dear Gods the music! There was many an occasion I would stop and simply stare into space, within the game, for fear of moving too far forward and cutting the music short. To the point that something as simple as walking up a hill could take me upwards of half an hour. Seriously, it is nothing short of auditory Earl Grey. Smooth, delicious and infinitely sophisticated. So, in short - it’s awesome.

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