System of Souls from developer Chaotic Lab is the latest title to come out of the PlayStation Talents initiative in Spain. This one’s a puzzle-driven adventure with a strong resemblance to games like Portal and Q.U.B.E, so we were immediately intrigued.
The interesting thing about Portal (and similar games) is that its clean visual style allows you to focus on its puzzle mechanics while still giving you the sense you’re traveling through a 3D world – often with a narrative to push you on. System of Souls goes for a similar combination with a protagonist who has to get through a test lab run by a slightly suspicious corporation called Ion. By progressing, you slowly unveil more of the narrative, which involves a strong desire on Ion’s side to find out more about your memories.
While the story of protagonist Logan is interesting, it doesn’t feel very well interwoven with the gameplay. Part of that is a reliance on cutscenes to help tell the story, but it’s also a matter of character and personality. Where Portal has GLaDOS to provide that in spades, System of Souls’ story aspect never really grabs you, and its parts feel more like interludes in an otherwise fairly abstract puzzle game.
Luckily, that puzzle game is quite decent, with a laboratory building that’s divided up into floors, with each floor providing a series of challenges – all of which are related through their gameplay mechanics, which are gradually built out from challenge to challenge. Controlling a robot avatar, you’ll recognize the main elements here as well: boxes, switches and moving platforms. You can grab and manipulate elements of the environment, and also have access to a jump and a bullet time mechanic for precise movement.
Nothing new, but the puzzles have been well designed, with a good amount of challenge and a decent learning curve built into them. Rough edges sometimes pop up through the controls when trying to manipulate boxes, but other than a few instances where it was mildly frustrating to get it right we had a good time playing the game to its completion.
If you enjoy games like Portal and Q.U.B.E, System of Souls feel like a very ‘indie’ take on those titles. From its look and feel to the gameplay, it’ll have an instant appeal to genre fans, with only a few rough edges holding it back.