Young Souls isn’t actually a new title. On this date of March 10, the game developed by the French studio 1P2P only gains more visibility. Previously, in 2020, it only appeared on the service Google Stadia. A very confidential release therefore, which had probably escaped a large number of players. But the opportunity to show off and seize a new community is now given to him thanks to this appearance on consoles PS4, Xbox One and Switch as well as on Steam. As for owners of PS5 and Xbox Series, they will not be snubbed since the software is also accessible via backward compatibility. Nevertheless, for everyone to be delighted, this creation published by The Arcade Crew must present fairly admissible arguments. Is that the case?
Young punks called to become the heroes of another world
Oh, adolescence! This rebellious age where the world is an enemy, a burden for our individuality (well, for some of us, huh). This period in which are precisely our two protagonists with a strong character and easy insult (a little too much?): Jenn and Tristan. These twins, with punk looks and flamboyant hair, despise an entire system. School is not for them. They prefer to spend most of their time hanging out on the roof of their house or rather that of the one who took them in: the professor, who has trouble being accepted by these two. At least our brats can’t see him as a father figure. But secretly, they care about this old gentleman. And so, when the latter is missing, they will go in search of him and will be led to discover a portal that will lead them to a universe parallel to theirs, which they were unaware of until now. Located right under their feet, this other world is in chaos.
But, they can only access this other dimension at nightfall, the portal operating with lunar energy. During the day, to pass the time, they stroll on the surface, in their town, and try to occupy themselves in their own way.
An adventure punctuated by castagne…
In the underground world, our two heroes will meet inhabitants there. Some will be hostile to them and others will lend them a hand in their fight which aims not only to free the captive professor, but also to put an end to the actions of a group, of a tyrannical power, which wants more than anything to put the hand on the surface. And, before reaching their end, the path will be long and the enemies numerous.
Young Souls then takes two forms: that of an adventure game – RPG more precisely – and that of a beat’em all with horizontal scrolling such as the classics of the genre (Double Dragon, Streets of Rage…).
There won’t really be any exploration. It’s basically a linear advancement from room to room in a dungeon, whether it’s between the walls of a prison, a laboratory or otherwise. During this progression, various enemies will block your path. The only way to continue is therefore confrontation – which is quite normal in this kind of game. A number of creatures will then appear in front of the two “outlaws”. It will thus be goblins armed with swords and shields or axes, small monsters resembling bats, poisonous frogs, spiders, etc., which will try to oppose you with resistance. And, to face them, no fewer weapons will be at your disposal, but not immediately, since you will have to acquire them yourself. Some of your opponents will drop some as loot, for example. Each will then have a particularity, such as inflicting more damage or its own special attack. It is the same for armor, which will be more and more effective over the course of the adventure.
But, it will obviously be more efficient to use all this equipment once it has gone through the improvement box. This is made possible thanks to all the gold coins as well as the various objects (stones, rubies…) that you will have recovered. To do so, a very special place will be made available to you, a market place where various exhibitors will present their equipment which grows as you progress where you can notably buy weapons and healing potions…
…looks like a cartoon
The decorations, all in geometric shapes, of this Young Souls shine by their minimalism. The graphic style is indeed simple – at least, that’s the feeling that emerges from it – but beautiful. Moreover, what makes the real strength of the game is above all the colors. Yes, it’s a very colorful title. However, it is in no way aggressive to the eye: the result obtained is even quite close to a cartoon or what could be called an interactive comic strip.
We take pleasure in following the adventures of the hotheads that are our brother and sister with crimson hair. Certainly, the graphic quality contributes to this interest, but not only: the staging is also valuable. At least, this is the case for the very first moments after launching the game. Afterwards, the repetitiveness gradually sets in and certain cutscenes can subsequently become quite cumbersome. Nevertheless, it is possible, not to pass them, but to accelerate them. Which gives, again, a certain style.
And, if generally everything is quite fluid and well animated, we will sometimes notice performance drops: lag more precisely. Whether in the movements of the characters or when the interface that allows us to choose our equipment, there will be slowdowns at times. And, perhaps the concern will be a little more disabling, such as the fact of not being able to access this inventory precisely.
There will also be other much more annoying bugs, those that make you quit the game and then restart it, such as clipping or freezing. It could indeed be that you will end up in a situation where you wait patiently for the loading screen to pass, but the time finally becomes long and your screen remains in complete darkness. Or, you will experience quite painful moments: in the middle of a fight, you will cross a wall to get stuck there.
Young Souls is fun, there’s no doubt about that. But, it could have been more so if it didn’t have some annoying flaws, which mainly consist of back and forth. Defeating a large number of enemies will not be enough to make you acquire an additional level, even if the experience points, you will reap them, that’s for sure. But for this evolution, this passage from one level to another, to be effective, you will often have to go (when you are told to) to the bedroom and sleep. Is that, once in bed, your experience points accumulated during your clashes will be used. It will not be otherwise. Awakened you will be like new, stronger, enduring and able to slaughter goblins (among other things).
Statistics that can also be increased via a “training session”, or rather a fitness session, which you will find in the city located in the real world, where you will be given the possibility of moving around by scooter or even returning via fast travel – which will allow you to avoid a path that you may consider cumbersome. Thus, you will improve your strength, your resistance and your endurance by choosing a type of exercise (cardio, weight training, etc.). Moreover, you will need stamina, because dodging – which will be quite essential – consumes it. You will then have to use this faculty sparingly. But, in order to be able to give yourself this chance to strengthen yourself, you will need a ticket which will open the doors of this famous gym to you.
Defects certainly, but a certain richness to assert?
The universe of this Young Souls is pleasant and, in a certain sense, endearing. It’s not easy to say if this is really the case, but we can feel several inspirations in this creation – which will not be surprising, since some of them have been schooled – ranging from Crash Bandicoot, for an offbeat side, to Heart of Darkness by Eric Chahi (especially in the narration). But, it is true that it is up to everyone’s free interpretation… we will patiently await the confirmation of the main interested parties. Yes, we can always dream…
And then there’s the experience the game provides. Not that it’s extraordinary or innovative, but the team in charge of development has shown a certain mastery by bringing some variety to the title, and in particular to the level design with, here and there, the insertion of traps in the over the levels. The bosses also have the merit of attracting attention. Already, they will catch the eye with their chara design. And then then they will all present some level of challenge. Not immediately, of course, but later, when you go further in the adventure. The feeling of weariness will be difficult to feel, because on the side of these confrontations, we will witness a real ball of varieties, whether with their attacks which evolve during the fight, the music with the epic tone which accompanies them , or by the very environment that serves as the arena. These will sometimes be in the simplest device, but others will require more attention, since they will be accompanied by traps. Needless to say that the difficulty will then be increased.
Quite fun, and sometimes complicated fights, during which you will have to deal with a particular concern. As mentioned earlier, you will be able to access an inventory. Thus, you can equip yourself with the weapon, armor, etc., of your choice and thus exploit an exclusive ability. However, it is strongly discouraged to do so in the middle of a confrontation. Why? Well, the game just won’t pause, and so your characters will be within reach of the little monsters lying around.
The other problem is in readability. Enemies will flock and mingle with each other. In this way, it is very difficult to find and extract yourself from the clutches of your assailants. You’ll be down quickly. However, once one of our heroes is down, the other will take over and try to revive him – two revive attempts are granted. Besides, it is not necessary to wait for this critical situation to impose it on you. You can change characters yourself when you deem it necessary to take advantage of its own weapons. But, not at will, because after a change, you will have to wait for some time before you can perform the same operation. Know, also that you can also exploit this change and thus perform a combo that will continue the action carried out previously. Well, that’s more if you’re playing solo. In two-player multiplayer, you will have to trust the skills of others.
Two types of attacks will be allowed to you: the standard and the special which will use capacities specific to the weapon in question. In fact, only the main weapon allows this. The secondary weapon will give the possibility of engaging in combat from a distance. It will thus be a bow or even bombs to throw at your opponents. And, if in the middle of a fight you can change your armor depending on their effectiveness, you can do the same with your street clothes. However, they won’t have any use, it’s just for style. And, given that we spend very little time on the surface, it is very negligible.