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500-Word Indies

500-Word Indies Index

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Soul Gambler - PC, Android, iOS, OYUA (2013)

by Jonathan Kaharl - November 9, 2016

Artwork

The idea of Soul Gambler is really promising. A modern retelling of the Faust tale with comic colors and designs? What's not to love? Thing is, that's not what Soul Gambler is. It does have similar themes, but the Faust of this story is a much more simplistic character, and instead of a deal with the devil, he's just one pawn in a game between a cursed soul and a witch. But it works, and those shared themes with the original story of the man who damned himself in his pursuits go a long way.

The premise is that an office worked named Faust is approached by a mysterious old woman who gets him to make a deal at the cost of his soul, allowing him to grant his deepest desires. He starts seeing a mysterious red haired woman in a disturbed otherworld, telling him to make wishes, while he soon learns he's not the only one to make this deal. Things only get more and more complex from there, as everyone involved with the real plot try to manipulate Faust to their needs, and it's not clear if anyone can be trusted.

It's a bare bones visual novel, just make choices when prompted and see how the story develops. The actual story, while short, works well enough. There's a real sense of intrigue and dread the first time through, especially once you reach the prison cell. Faust's situation is well handled and involved, but the poor writing for the few female characters does become a problem, especially in the best ending, which might as well be the worst quality wise. Really, the story of Faust shouldn't have any sort of good ending. The one other addition here is that you can decide body, intelligence, and charm stats at start, which are affected by wishes you make throughout the game.

The writing for the game is great ...until the last chapter. Suddenly, the game rushes to try and explain all this bizarre magic and soul gambling, losing all tension in exposition dumps and lame revelations. Not even the red haired lady gets a good explanation. The bad endings do make up for this though, especially if you trust a certain someone at the end. The English translation is a tad stilted, sadly, but the scenarios are well done. There's even a beginning scenario where you decide not to take the deal, and it's ridiculous and entertaining in equal parts.

About the only thing production wise that can't be forgiven is the music, which loops in short runs a few seconds long. It's remarkably cheap, especially for a text heavy title. The comic art helps, lacking a lot of detail and flair, but backed by strong color work in places. It fits the atmosphere of the story, especially the otherworld scenes. For such a small title (it only costs three dollars), you do get your money's worth, but it's a shame a game with such a strong premise didn't get at least one more chapter to let the revelations flow in more naturally. Or just changed altogether. A bit lacking, but a good effort and well priced. Steam version has a lot of achievements to get too, if you're into that.

Quick Info:

Developer:

  • Tlon Studios

Publisher:

  • Gamestorming

Genre:

Theme:

Type:

  • Commercial

Soul Gambler (PC)

Soul Gambler (PC)

Soul Gambler (PC)




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500-Word Indies Index

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