Wayward Souls is the long-awaited new title from RocketCat games, creators of some of my favorite iOS titles such as Super QuickHook, Hook Worlds and Punch Quest. Now in the same incredible pixel-art style as their other offerings, RocketCat has managed to take features from all their other games and mash them up into one tasty treat.
The first thing everyone notices is the price point. $4.99 (USD) This isn’t your typical F2P or Freemium title, this is a fully fleshed-out game. The developers have promised frequent free content updates as well as free additional features. The catch is every time they do a major content update, the price will increase $1. This rewards early adopters and offsets costs without resorting to In-App Purchases. On paper, this works. In practice…we shall see what happens.
As long as the developers don’t do frequent deep discounts I think it will work fine without too much user backlash.
Wayward Souls features randomly generated fantasy/steampunk themed levels with permadeath, so most people will call it a roguelike. In reality it is a frustration generation machine.
Maybe that is a bit unfair. I like these types of games normally, but I find myself more frustrated than usual when playing Wayward Souls. Maybe it is because I have come to expect bite-sized gameplay from RocketCat and other similar developers. Maybe it is because I realize I am absolutely terrible at this one.
This is why I am not giving a full review but just impressions. I can’t dig deep enough due to time constraints and personal frustration to give a fair review.
The game itself is quite fun. You pick one of 3 different archetypes: Warrior, Mage, or Rogue.
There are three additional hero types but I haven’t been able to unlock any of them yet. Each hero has a different feel to it. The warrior has a great cleave that slices down anything in his way, the mage uses energy for mid to long-range spells and the rogue does it from behind. In top-down “zelda” style you hack, slash and loot your way through dungeons and eventually save enough gold to permanently upgrade your characters bit by bit. Sadly these upgrades get quickly expensive and don’t really feel that impressive. Things like 1% bonus to crit, 4% energy recharge bonus, and similar effects just don’t have the bump needed to make you feel like you aren’t completely screwed. Sure they may be noticeable when you have a serious amount of gold invested, but those first few upgrades feel completely useless.
As expected in a RocketCat game…there are also lots of hats to unlock. I have no idea how many hats there are in total, but I hope there are hundreds. These stupid hats, just like in Team Fortress and past RocketCat games, are simply cosmetic but keep me wanting to play just a bit longer to see if I can get just one more. The environment is very destructible, and coins might be hiding in that pile of bones over there, so you will find yourself taking much longer to go through the levels than you really should, simply to get every little pickup. (and maybe a hat or two)
As much fun as the game can be, the frustration level of the game is so…frustrating that I sometimes feel I am not making any progress. Then I get in that zone and really start to bust some heads (in a spiritual sense, of course) only to be destroyed by a boss that kills me before I figure out half of his patterns. 15+ minutes wasted.
The game throws assortments of enemies that have different attack patterns at you in the same room, so you will sometimes forget which monster does what. You may dodge the bat only to be nommed on by the zombie behind you. The rarity of health pickups during stages makes every point of damage you take matter. You need to be good for this game.
All that said, I am not giving up on Wayward Souls. If it had controller support, I would be in heaven, since that would free up more screen that my thumbs cover so I can see that thing in the corner that is about to kill me before it actually does. Thankfully it is a rare problem, and RocketCat has said that if they are given some devices to test with, they would love to update their games to include MFi Support. (So if you are reading this, controller manufacturers, get them some hardware!)
If this seems to be your kind of game, then grab it before the first major content (and price) update.
For me, I will play it when I have time, but it is a far cry from the addiction that the ‘Hook’ games were.