Whereas modern platforming games focus on providing a whimsical experience (like Super Mario 3D Land), let the player feel like a powerhouse (Kirby Mass Attack), or encourage players to wallow in the genre’s nostalgic roots (Mutant Mudds, Cave Story), Fractured Soul goes back to platforming’s bare basics and adds a new dimension through body-flipping. If you’re looking for colorful graphics, an engaging story, or mercy, you won’t find it here. If, however, you want a bone-breaking platforming experience that’s been squared, then welcome home.
Developer: Endgame Studios
Publisher: Ignition Entertainment
ESRB Rating: E10+
Compatible With: Nintendo 3DS
Price: $11.99 USD
GOOD: Utilizes a unique mechanic that adds a serious challenge. Hardcore platforming fans will be driven to try and try again.
BAD: Gameplay is extremely frustrating. Checkpoints can be spaced far apart. Graphics and sound are unremarkable.
THE BASICS: Me and My Shadow
Fractured Soul is light on story. The game isn’t interested in telling you a tale, though: It wants you to sweat, which it accomplishes by forcing you to focus on both of the Nintendo 3DS’s screens in a single moment. You’ll either be a platforming ace by the end of it all, or you’ll grow frustrated and throw your 3DS hard enough to embed it in a wall.
GAMEPLAY: Two is More Frustrating Than One
Jumping, running, climbing, and performing the usual platforming exercises are necessary for getting through Fractured Soul, but your survival really depends on monitoring the action on both screens, and flipping between them when necessary. Sometimes it’s as easy as shifting in a calm, unhurried environment. Most of the time, though, the game requires you to shift mid-jump and perform other tricky stunts. If, for instance, there is a laser-barrier sandwiched between two ladders, you need to switch to your spirit form in order to bypass the barrier and then quickly switch back to a solid form so that you can grab the ladder. Needless to say, the rate of failure in Fractured Soul is high, and so is the potential for hair-grabbing frustration.
You have unlimited lives, however, so if you come across a sticky spot, you can retry as many times as necessary. There are checkpoints scattered throughout the game, and thankfully, most of them are close together. Unfortunately, sometimes you’re expected to power through long stretches of a level without screwing up. Clear all children from the room before you play: You will swear.
Fractured Soul also features space shooter levels wherein you need to flip between the two screens to avoid enemy projectiles and return fire. These gameplay segments should be of special interest to ladies and gentlemen that have been pining for an extra-challenging shoot-em-up in an otherwise sparse market.
GRAPHICS AND SOUND: Cold as Space
Likewise, the music in Fractured Soul is pretty forgettable. The game’s soundtrack won’t get in the way of the action, but neither will you be humming to yourself after the game’s shut off. Do expect the dying screams of your hero to follow you into the night, though—you hear them an awful lot.