The Rebellious Youth
With every new entry to the growing list of Game Pass titles, another chance to try a unique title from an independent developer arises. This time we take a look at Young Souls, which with its unique art design and animations gives off a nostalgic feeling. It wasn't because the game played similar to other titles of the past, but because of the shows I watched as a kid. Take a cartoon from the 00s, something you'd watch on Cartoon Network or Disney Channel. Now, crank that up to eleven while adding obscenities and adult humor. This is what Young Souls is.
From its premise, it would fit right at home on an Adult Swim block. The player controls a pair of twins known as Jenn and Tristain who are raised by
their foster father a professor who takes them in. They don't attend school, are indifferent about their reputation, and will resort to razor-sharp wit to get by. The one thing they do have, however, is each other which of course is threatened when an unknown adversary kidnaps the professor. The twins must not only save the professor but unintentionally the world as well.
Time Is A Flat Circle, So Is Difficulty Discourse
Before starting the game, it would be in the player's best interest to look at the options menu. Aside from a humorous, yet acceptable, profanity filter, there are accessibility options plus a foreword. The game states that Young Souls is a difficult title by default and to alleviate the difficulty, there are several options for the player to choose from. Some of these include auto-blocking, an increase in player damage, a decrease in enemy damage, and other similar options.
The difficult modes also reflect the intensity of the monsters, with the "Challenging" difficulty mode being recommended. While the various difficulties are made available, specifically for a younger crowd plus the profanity filter, Young Souls is best enjoyed under default settings. Personally, after playing the first three chapters, the game does a good job of easing you in. It also does a fair job of punishing you for not following directions. It's a decent balance.
Young Souls begins with the two twins in a middle of a war between monsters and themselves. The first few fights are meant to serve as a tutorial complete with an unwinnable fight. You can put somewhat of a dent on the boss, but this eventually leads to a cutscene followed by a flashback. This is where the game truly begins, with our heroes perched on the rooftop ditching class.
A Day In The Life Of Some Delinquints
It's just another day as the twins are tasked to sell some of the professor's junk to a nearby pawn shop. The controls while in this open-world are similar to that of a "Paper Mario"-style game. Walking to the foreground and background is a matter of perspective. It's a 2D game but due to the art and some 3D elements, it gives a lot of depth perception. This is important when the player engages in certain fights that require 360 degrees of movement.
Everyone in town looks down on the kids and they don't seem to care, almost as if they are used to it. Jenn and Tristan both have distinctive personalities, with the former being a bookworm and the latter a sneakerhead. They have banter as any siblings would with each other and are quick to use vulgarities when needed. The twins aren't "edgy," but rather considering their predicament, their rebellion is realistic. Eventually, as they pawn the Professor's junk, they head back home via a scooter. It is here that they find the place ransacked, which leads to them heading out to save the prof.
"Where's Your Curly Mustache At?"
Before the player begins Young Souls, the game also mentions fans of beat-em-ups and fighting games as a reference to its "Challenging" difficulty. Believe it or not, there are a lot of skills that transfer over from fighting games to a game such as this. 1P2P Studios did a fine job in establishing some basic mechanics while also keeping things unique. During combat, you only have one life in reserves and that life is shared between the twins. Jenn and Tristan, in the beginning, have an identical move set as both use a sword and a shield. They do, however, have different health bars, and finding a way to balance the damage taken will matter a lot in Young Souls.
This is because as the twins take damage, they recoverable health in the form of a bright orange health bar. If Tristan for example takes damage, dropping his health to 50 out of 100, he can tag Jenn in. Over time, that health will recover to 90 out of 100, or however much the red bar equates. If Jenn had taken any sustainable damage, she can tag her brother back in. This is a mechanic known in most tag-style fighting games including Tekken Tag Tournament and Marvel vs Capcom.
Young Souls Is An Experience Not Unlike Residents From 'River City'
Concepts including baiting enemy attacks, blocking, and performing "footsies" also come into play. There's no one true way to play Young Souls and playing it like either a fighting game or a beat-em-up button masher are both valid. With the game's first boss battle, it's almost trivialized if the player keeps these mechanics in mind. It's still a challenge learning how Young Souls functions as a game.
As the player defeats bosses, there's also a "social" element to the game. The twins can only level up as they rest for the night. During the day, they can interact with the townsfolk and even go to the gym to increase their stats further.
Overall, Young Souls is a mix of many of my favorite genres, with social cues similar to that of River City Girls. I've always liked beat-em-up games set in a realistic environment with an absurd fantasy twist. RCG fits that caliber and this game does as well, only it embraces the "fantasy" more. Fans of fighting, brawlers, and action RPGs will find enjoyment from Young Souls' gameplay and humor.
Young Souls is out on PC, Switch, PS4, Xbox One, and Game Pass.