You Should Play: Wayward Souls

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These days, keeping up with games can be a full-time job. So how do you separate the signal from the noise, the wheat from the chaff, the Temple Runs from the Temple Jumps? Allow us to help by regularly selecting a game You Should Play.

Wayward Souls is a roguelike fantasy role-playing game by RocketCat games. With 16-bit graphics reminiscent of classic SNES-era Final Fantasy titles and a fairly intuitive set of touchscreen controls, Wayward Souls is a surprisingly fun and immensely challenging game. It’s the type of challenge that makes you want to try over and over again, mainly due to three factors:

Difficult by design: Roguelikes are generally predicated on challenging the player through impossible situations with success only gained through repetition, grinding, and perseverance. You are not a god, you are a lamb sent to the slaughter. Success only comes through building up a character that eventually can handle the numerous deadly foes inhabiting the dungeons.

Wayward Souls is that kind of roguelike game. It has the added difficulty of a touchscreen control setup that makes movement easy, but combat clunky. Your primary attack—either slash or magic—will be a cinch, but a secondary attack—like shield or kick—requires a directed swipe that is a bit finicky in the heat of combat. 

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Losing a life sends you back to the beginning.

Building a hero: Wayward Souls is compelling because it not only captures the frantic, vulnerable feeling of roguelikes, but it first gives you a taste of success. The game cold starts you with the top of the tower—sort of like a final boss level. There’s some light instruction, but the game mainly lets you flail and experience its highs before throwing you down into its lows. In this case, that’s the mines, a murky and danger-filled mess of a first dungeon.

Your initial hours of Wayward Souls feels like being the smallest kid on the playground: Everything around you is bigger than you, and basically beats you up. Character improvements (and retribution) come in the form of various buffs that can be purchased via in-game currency. But in order to gain enough coins to unlock better health, critical hit chance, or manna, you’ll need to play several hours and, yes, die a lot. With roguelikes, death is permanent, so every time you fall, you’ll have to start at the beginning of the first dungeon.

Hours of dungeons: While there is certainly some repetition in the game, the random level generation prevents you from getting too bored. Danger lurks in new places, and enemies are randomized but rarely easy—between the goblins, dynamite-throwing miners, and mechanized demons, you’ll die in interesting and numerous ways.

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Pick your class before you play.

You get three classes at start—your standard warrior, mage, and rogue. The warrior is likely the easiest to master—his primary attack has a wider area of effect, and he isn’t as dependent on manna/energy to be an effective combatant. But all three can be made into killing machines given enough coin and patience. Completing additional levels will grant you hybrid classes with better stats.

Thankfully, completing the many levels of the first dungeon (the mines) will grant you access to another dungeon, and if you die there, you can choose to start there instead of back in the first level. So progress is slow, but there is progress. Investing a few hours will get you deeper and deeper into the game, refining your strategy, and ultimately rewarding you with more content.

Wayward Souls is a slow burn, and for those seeking an immensely challenging RPG that will pay dividends much later on, well, this is the loot you’ve been looking for.

Developer: Rocketcat Games
Platform: iOS (Universal)
Price: $5

This story, "You Should Play: Wayward Souls" was originally published by TechHive.

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