3Souls is a three-part episodic puzzle-platformer that’s an exclusive for the Nintendo Wii U. Episodes 2 and 3 will be available in the future as DLC content for the game. Developed by Red Column, 3Souls impressively stands out amongst other Wii U exclusive titles with its full gamepad integration. With a vibrant hand-drawn aesthetic and creative gameplay mechanics, 3Souls shows a lot of promise on the Wii U. The game shows off the console’s unique capabilities and hopefully ushers in more exclusive games for the Wii U which showcases its hardware.
You begin your journey in 3Souls introduced to the dreary world of Mustland where creatures known as the ‘Animas’ are confined. The Animas appear to be fragile creatures who don masks that are essential to their survival as it protects their souls from the perils around them. Their souls can be seen floating as small orbs of light that often reveal their given emotions and thoughts. The first episode introduces you to an Anima named ‘Nelesa’ who is trapped within the Moon Tower – a prison from which you must help her escape.
The character of Nelesa is an enigma unto herself, as not much is revealed about her in the beginning of the game. The same can be said about the entire story that unfolds pertaining to Nelesa and why she is even held captive in the first place. Even as you begin to uncover certain clues to her story, it can still feel convoluted and missing integral pieces. This is most probably deliberate since 3Souls is an episodic game with two other episodes to follow that we can only suspect will reveal the entire series of events.
You’ll quickly start to encounter threats within each level that Nelesa will warn you about. The prime antagonist within the game appears to be flowers which look harmless at first but prove deadly as they try to take Nelesa’s mask. The Wii U gamepad integration is creative. You’ll be continuously utilising the gamepad’s mic, touchscreen and even the camera. Although every gamepad interaction is an ingenious way to navigate through a 2d platformer, it often feels tedious and hard to control. There’s a lack of a tutorial for utilising these controls, you’ll have to go through the process of trial and error to see what works. The same can be said for the level design of 3Souls. The puzzle solving aspect can prove rather infuriating especially when you’re tasked with jumping onto hidden moving platforms that you are only able to see on the gamepad touchscreen momentarily. Because of this, obstacles often feel overcome by luck rather than skill.
3Souls can honestly be praised for its ingenuity for incorporating the Wii U gamepad so creatively along with its hand-drawn art style and not to mention some superb voice acting. Unfortunately episode 1 – Nelesa is a short-lived venture that leaves you with a narrative that’s a tad lacking. The levels of the game are filled with frustrating obstacles that simply aren’t executed well. Perhaps episodes 2 and 3 can offer some redemption. It may even fill in the blanks and create a well-woven narrative, but unfortunately until then 3Souls Episode 1 – Nelesa leaves much to be desired.
Sunita Osborne is a freelance journalist and contributor to PN2. You can find her on Twitter @SunitaOsborne