Price: $ 1.99
App Reviewed on: iPad Air 2
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Frog Souls is the Dark Souls of mobile games. It may play like a simple arcade game, but it has a unique aesthetic, obtuse narrative, and a combat system that takes practice to fully master. There are certainly things missing from this game that make it not as great as a regular Souls game, but Frog Souls manages to push some relatively simple mechanics to the point that it evokes games like Dark Souls or Bloodborne, without merely imitating them.
The frog knight
In Frog Knight, you control a mysterious warrior who just so happens to be a frog. At the start of the game, a weird, pink monster descends from the sky and gives you your quest: Defeat the four masters. To do this, you must stand on a lily pad and jump and slash your way through enemy after enemy while avoiding getting hit yourself.
Fighting in Frog Souls is a strange affair as it doesn’t involve lateral movement at all. Instead, you can only jump vertically with your frog and swing your sword to fire a projectile horizontally toward your enemy. Given this, the whole game is a simple, two button affair with one side of the screen controlling jumps and the other controlling your attacks.
Like a Dark Souls game, Frog Souls doesn’t just let you get away with mashing the jump and attack buttons. Both actions have specific mechanics around them that force you to consider when you should use them, and if you don’t make these decisions carefully, you can find yourself dying pretty quickly.
If you do happen to die in Frog Souls, you have to start the whole game over again. This permadeath system can occasionally be annoying, but it is somewhat mitigated through the game’s upgrade system, which can give you items that change the way your jumps and attacks work, some of which are procedurally generated at specific points on a given fun, and others which persist between playthroughs.
The worst thing you could probably say about Frog Souls is that perhaps it’s a bit too simplistic. It’s combat system is unique, but with just two buttons, it can feel like you don’t have a ton of options at your disposal. Also, the rate of progression here relies much more on you getting better at the game rather than simply leveling up to make things easier.
What’s really neat about this simplicity though is how much Frog Souls manages to feel properly mysterious and difficult so as to ellicit some Dark Souls vibes, even though it’s a totally different experience. Everything from the pixel art, to the atmospheric soundtrack, bizarre character designs, and deliberate combat systems makes for a game that is equal parts intriguing and punishing, even though it might not have a ton of deep systems at work.
The bottom line
Frog Souls is a fun, weird, and striking experience. It’s not very complicated in how its gameplay works, but it adds on just enough challenge and mystery to keep it engaging. Although it doesn’t try to copy the Dark Souls formula outright, it applies a lot of the same ethos of those games onto a simpler, arcade experience, and it works in a way that is better than expected.