Wayward Souls Review
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Wayward Souls Review

Our Review by Carter Dotson on April 24th, 2014
Rating: starstarstarstarstar :: CARRY ON, WAYWARD SON
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Wayward Souls is a roguelike-inspired action-RPG that sets a high bar for other games to compare to.

Developer: Rocketcat Games
Price: $4.99
Version Reviewed: 1.00
Device Reviewed On: iPad Mini Retina

Graphics / Sound Rating: starstarstarstarstar
Controls Rating: starstarstarstarblankstar
Gameplay Rating: starstarstarstarstar
Replay Value Rating: starstarstarstarstar

Overall Rating: starstarstarstarstar

The roguelike-inspired genre hasn't really taken off on mobile like I expected it to quite yet, but Wayward Souls sets the bar so high for any other developer that tries to jump in that I do not envy them. Wayward Souls is a darn fine roguelike action-RPG.

The game, which is a spiritual successor of Mage Gauntlet, thrusts players into three dungeons where they have one life, a limited amount of health, the character's special abilities, and occasional power-ups, upgrades, and coins that can be collected. The coins are the only permanent thing that is carried between games, which can be spent on upgrades. Otherwise, the game features permadeath: any upgrades and items collected don't carry over. So choose wisely and don't be afraid to actually use the items. As well, the game features random levels in each dungeon, so no run is ever the same. There are common elements each time through, but expect the unexpected.

This is a very challenging game, and one that ultimately comes down to skill - not so much grinding for coins to buy upgrades. They can help, but are all very subtle effects that only slightly make up for playing well. Taking damage is a very bad thing because, while it can be recovered between levels, it's only a small amount, and potions are few and ineffective to boot. So learning how to play intelligently, with only using the upgrades as little ways to enhance one's overall strategy, are key.

This is a game that's highly replayable by necessity: players must play it repeatedly in order to get better at it. And that's the only way to get better. At least the coins and upgrades do provide a reward for failed runs. As well, each character has their own progression: it's not possible to get to later levels with a character unless they beat previous levels. There's a total of six characters that can be unlocked across the three levels, with more levels and characters planned, and Rocketcat Games have historically been great on delivering with post-release content.

The combat solves the biggest problem of Mage Gauntlet, which was that the game had no effective flow due to needing to constantly pause to trigger spells and abilities. That's still in the game, but now is quite minimized because they appear less often, and additionally because characters have their own abilities that are triggered by swiping upward or downward. What this means is that special abilities now feel special, and the pauses are actually welcome, because the game can be played without needing to pause. Each character really does play quite differently thanks to their various stats and abilities, so the approach with each must be different. I found the swiping to trigger character abilities to take a long amount of time to get comfortable with; gamepad support, planned down the road, will be a killer.

Wayward Souls is punishing, but so rewarding and satisfying when success does come. Rocketcat Games have made a roguelike action-RPG that stands up with the best of its genre, mobile or not. This is an absolute must-buy.

iPhone Screenshots

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iPad Screenshots

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