Slashy Souls, developed by BANDAI NAMCO is a new endless runner with ties to the beloved Dark Souls franchise. Offered as a free appetizer leading up to the release of the awaited Dark Souls III, Slashy Souls looks to whet the appetites of fans and mobile game enthusiasts. In its path though, this endless runner tramples over the notions of effective gameplay, fun and connectivity to the title it means to represent.
The controls are theoretically as simple as: swipe to jump, tap to slash, jump backwards by swiping backwards. Considering this game’s connectivity to the Dark Souls franchise, you would think that a versed company like BANDAI NAMCO would nail the dynamics of this popular genre as well as provide a unique experience. But you would be wrong. The character control is extremely unresponsive and you’ll find yourself tapping furiously on the screen to avoid your inevitable, frustrating demise at the hands of whatever obstacle or enemy stands in your way. Slashy Souls is littered with challenging environmental hurdles and antagonizing foes. The inherent need to react rapidly to approaching threats in an endless runner and broken gameplay dynamics undermine these potentially positive aspects and create a perpetual pattern of unavoidable restarts. In this regard, the meta-marketing encouraging players to “die today” is a fail. Luckily enough the game provides you with the means to leap backwards and save yourself from impending doom. Except that there is an ominous dark fog constantly on your heels that will instantly kill you. Good luck trying to avoid death from in front and behind while struggling to dictate your characters movement with your finger.
Slashy Souls attempts to pay homage to its predecessors by adapting an 8-bit aesthetic and chiptune soundtrack. But the nostalgia factor paired with less than perfect functionality, makes the game seems dated. Mostly colored by grays and browns, with dungeons, barren mountain landscapes and fiendish ghouls, the world of Slashy Souls feels like a hazy, post-apocalyptic dreamscape that exists in a mobile gamers deepest, darkest nightmares. The music is reminiscent of something you might hear in a funeral home or on a coroner’s iTunes playlist. Mimicking the music made by an organ, the soundtrack exacerbates the dreary mood of Slashy Souls, effectively sucking any remaining excitement to be found from an already morbid gaming experience.
BANDAI NAMCO’s greatest blunder with Slashy Souls is their failure to connect this title in any distinguishable way to the Dark Souls franchise. Aside from a few familiar character types there is no connection to the game series at all. With such a rich mythology to the Dark Souls universe, you are left questioning whether an endless runner was the right choice in an attempt to promote the upcoming release of a third installment. Even with the obtrusive reminder in the opening menu that GameStop was involved in the development of this game, it’s unlikely that Slashy Souls will be encouraging anyone but pre-existing fans of the franchise to hit the stores when Dark Souls III is released.
Is it Hardcore?
Swing and a miss.
Slashy Souls fails to create dynamic, controllable gameplay and feels dated and potentially incomplete.