Review of Soulcaster on XBLIG: Buy
Almost creates an action-tower defense genre.
What would you do if you were a wizard with no magic to his name who, for no good reason any sane person could see, decided to go traipsing through some ruins and happened to stumble upon something “interesting”? Let’s then say you go to investigate and managed through your mere presence to call forth demons who are now bent on your destruction.
If the ghost of a dead warrior happens to be nearby and willing to help you become a hero, that’s what.
Soulcaster takes you, a wizard looking 8bit-ish character, through dungeons and ruins on a quest to find a magical chalice for three soulorb-bound warriors’ spirits. They were killed in a long ago epic battle which they lost to some super evil wizard who cursed them to unending existence. Not that their previous failure is supposed to dissuade you from going on!
Shaedu is an archer that can shoot over some obstacles but not you or your companions. He’s the first you get and you summon him with A. Aeox is next, summoned with X, and he is a warrior with a sword. Bloodfire, summoned with B, is described as an alchemist but I prefer to pretend he’s a dwarf (to offset my imaginings that Shaedu’s an elf and Aeox human) that throws firebombs that only hurt the enemy and can go over allies. When he dies he explodes and will harm any creature or ally around him. You start with a single summoning orb and gain two more through regular play. The summon orbs merely count how many summoned warriors you have in play rather than which one has to be summoned. There’s the option to buy two more orbs, health potions, a special move (depleteable), or level up the Summons in various ways.
You move with either the analog stick or the D-pad, the D-pad being my choice because of a mental block on playing a four directional, 8-bit game with a mini joystick.
The game is slightly short but immersive enough to make the final level seem to pop out of nowhere. This is despite the almost Vegas-neon glowing hints the spirits drop between the levels. It plays, as I’ve heard described by another site’s reviewer, like a tower defense game. Because of the many ways to win a single level, I found myself replaying levels before moving on so that I could get a personal “perfect” method of beating each level.
Everyone who’s had a Gameshark will recognize the save system. Get out pencil and paper for this one ‘cause it’s back to the land of save codes! There is an option for the game to remember the save code for any point in the game but I’d still write down one or two so you wouldn’t have to restart the game entirely to try and get a better outcome at any specific level.
As soon as you buy the game the Hard mode opens up. I tried that for a bit and it’s not a level of masochism that I’ve reached quite yet. Notice, yet. The only criticism I’ve had while playing the game at all is that the Final level has a horde rush. I personally hate hordes in tower defense games but it fits in this game. Even though I hate it.
I did not beat this game, although I did come close. This game is a Buy. There is enough here to justify the 240 MSP during your probable first playthrough alone. Be the crazy LARPer that makes something of himself! Be the Soulcaster.
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