by William Thompson
reviewed on PC
Welcome to Soul Town
Swords & Souls: Neverseen begins with our hero washing ashore after a maritime accident and finds himself in a town known as Soul Town. This town serves as our base throughout the course of the game and has everything our hero needs in order to continue his journey. The town has a barracks, where you can train your combat skills, a dock where you can purchase items of use, a blacksmith who provides quality equipment, and a tavern where you can hire party members. The tavern also serves as the starting point of your adventure, as it is the old barkeep that provides you with your initial quest.
Setting out on a quest involves leaving the town and heading out into the wider lands (which become wider as you complete the barkeep’s quests). The city outskirts are marked with several combat locations and it is at these points that the skills learned in the barracks are put to the test. Upon heading out on a mission, you take all your known skills and, brandishing your weapon of choice, confront any attackers that come your way in a turn-based battle. Early missions have you taking on a single combatant, but as you progress, you may have to take on up to four enemies at once.
Of course, without training, defeat will be inevitable. So before heading out, it is advisable to head to the barracks. Honing your skills at the barracks involves working at the five disciplines - Melee, Ranged, Magic, Defence, and Agility – some of which become available after money is earned from early battles. The five disciplines each have their own training mini-game. These mini-games increase in difficulty as your skills improve and you level up, and rewards are given for completing special challenges. The training games are all very simple, and building up your rank in each is a quick process. As you become more adept at each skill, new skill challenges are added. And upon leveling up your skills and your character, bonus points are awarded in which you can then allocate to a special skill tree.
Easy to play
The controls used in training are extremely simple. The training mini-games require either arrow key (or WASD) presses in the right combination - similar to Dance Dance Revolution, or movements of the mouse in a required pattern. They’re the sort of controls that could easily be transferred to a mobile version of the game. Performing chains of the correct combination of key presses or mouse swirls grants combos that build on your skills.
The controls learned in the barracks are not transferred through to the combat though. The combat phase of the game plays out in a primarily turn-based fashion. Each combatant takes their turn to attack or complete their special ability (such as healing), with hits diminishing a power bar of the enemy. If your character has trained in defense or agility, then special defensive moves can be used when enemies attack. As enemies get tougher, and more plentiful (there can be as many as four attackers), the defensive aspects become more important.
Also important are allies to your cause. You can have up to two allies on your side in the later parts of the game, and these companions gain experience the more they assist in battle. I mentioned earlier that the companions can be hired from the tavern, but these companions must first be won over in combat, as they are minor bosses that you must first defeat. Once they become active in the tavern, they become mercenaries for hire. Along with these mercenaries, an animal companion can also be coerced into fighting by your side with the help of a magical flute. Music soothes the savage beast, and with the right tune, the animals become friendly towards our hero.
Winning a battle scenario gains our hero a selection of items. The first is gold, although there are a range of ever-increasing currencies throughout the game. Gold can be used to unlock the five skill trees, improve your barracks (which speeds up your training), build your home (which increases XP) or can be used to purchase weapons and other special items. The second item gained from battle is XP in the form of Souls. As with most games where you gain experience, this XP eventually allows you to level up and gain special skills (both passive and active) that can be used in combat. The third item that can be won in combat is equipment. Equipment such as gloves, helmets and shoulder guards boost the defensive capabilities of our avatar.
The animated visuals and the dialogue give the game a comical tone. The characters you meet always have something witty to say, albeit in a text-based format. Characters have that Rayman look, with extremities that are not connected to their bodies and locations could be scenes out of an early Disney cartoon with vibrant colors in abundance. With only a small number of characters on the screen at once, everything during the combat is clearly set out, making it easy to determine the strengths and capabilities of each of the enemies and allies alike.
Simple, but unrewarding
Sword & Souls: Neverseen is a fun RPG-lite game that is simple to play, but the repetition in both the training and the combat makes the game become stale rather quickly. The added challenges to the training do help, but once you get to the highest training level, even that becomes monotonous. It is probably a game that is best played in short bursts, which lends itself to being more of a mobile game. Indeed, the simple nature of the controls, the turn-based combat mechanics, and the animated visuals all point to the same conclusion. But as a PC title, the game is fun but somewhat limited.
Simple to play
Training becomes monotonous