Two minutes into Young Souls’ prologue, I thought it was going to be a standard 2.5D indie beat ‘em up. Well-designed, and fun for co-op, but without much else to get stuck into.
I was very wrong.
Young Souls is the story of Jenn and Tristan, twin-teens on a mission to save their adopted father, The Professor, from the world of goblins hidden in plain sight beneath their own. After The Professor disappears one day, they stumble upon a portal into the goblin realm in his vacant laboratory, and venture into the dungeons below to stage a rescue.
In single-player you can switch between the two kids, or play as both in co-op.
The game advances through a day/night cycle as you edge closer to your goal. During the day, you ride into town on your Vespa to stock up on supplies and equipment, train your skills, and pick up new threads.
The scope of customisation and depth of the systems is what’s most impressive about Young Souls – especially considering it’s been built by two people and six freelancers over a period of three years. A lot of hard work and imagination has gone into every part, and it shows.
As well as kitting Jenn and Tristan out with different weapons, there are tons of levelled armour pieces, each with different elemental resistances, armour ratings, and styles to choose from. You also need to balance the weight of your equipment, with heavier items impairing your movement speed in battle. Then there are equipable spells that nicely round off the package.
And what teen doesn’t love loud sneakers? To put the finishing touches on your look you can also pick up some new kicks – which eventually give their own magical bonuses as well.
Once you’re done, it’s time to head home to The Professor’s mansion where you can explore before heading out to squish some goblins. There are more than 70 dungeons to crawl through with their own enemy types, mini-bosses, and proper bosses to battle.
The art-style is gorgeous, blending deep, sunset pastels with subdued ambient lighting to create a unique and appealing look. The animations are just as smooth, which is important for the combat system that subscribes to the ‘tough-but-fair’ ethos that’s become so popular this generation.
While there seemed to be a decent variety of adorably derpy enemies in the demo I played, it’ll be vital that Young Souls keeps that up for the whole game. It’s already gone some way towards this with different types of dungeons – like fire levels, ice levels and the like – but it’s not certain how much of a different dimension these backdrops bring to the core gameplay.
All of this is skirting over the main story, which developer 1P2P Studio says will be a big focus of the game as well, so you’re not just slogging through dungeon after dungeon without purpose. Young Souls is full of personality, and its story sections will give context to your adventures.
With Young Souls, 1P2P is building an indie-RPG dripping with style, without ditching the substance to compensate.
You can join Jenn and Tristan in their fight against the goblins when the game drops sometime in 2020.