Thanks to Endgame Studios for providing a download code for this review
Publisher: Endgame Studios
NA Release: September 13, 2012
EU Release: TBA
AUS Release: TBA
# of players: single player
Available for the Nintendo eShop: Price $11.99
There's a reason why the trailer is included
Fractured Soul has the similar dual simultaneous gameplay as Chrono Twin, a DSiware title release a few years ago. Of course, playing DSiware titles on the Nintendo 3DS is not the ideal way to experience them. Right away Fractured Soul is the superior choice. The difference is that in Fractured Soul you control only one character instead of two. This character has the ability to switch between the top screen and the bottom screen, choosing the screen with the most reachable platform or the fastest approach. This dual screen platformer is also possible experiencing on the Nintendo 3DS XL, the screens aren’t that big.
There are 20 switchable platforming segments with 5 different environmental challenges. The first 4 levels are basic outpost designs to get use to the switching mechanic and getting accustomed at viewing two majorly similar levels that can’t progressively beaten without each other. Don’t expect an easy tutorial, right from the start switching between two screens becomes instantaneous especially when not dealing with speed-running tactics. The next 4 levels alternates the top screen as an underwater level, creating two entirely different platforming physics. Then the game takes a break by giving you a pair of side-scrolling shoot’em up with the same switching mechanic and encountering a first boss. The next 4 levels introduce a more frozen outpost on the top screen with heavy wind currents that are either hinder or very useful to your progression. The next 4 levels the, top screen change from icy weather to lava overload including difficulty.
Then another pair of shoot’em up that is mainly use as frustrating filler. I say that it’s frustrating because there is a point in the second "main" shoot’em up level that you enter a slowly moving space station that (maybe because of bad programming and the game still thinks that level takes place in the emptiness of space) going through a wall will instantly kill you. Fortunately, the solution is to use the precious D-Pad instead of the Circle Pad. The slow moving space station could have been well executed if the level is entirely base on that with checkpoints and your ship doesn’t go through the walls, which the challenge of patiently triggering a switch and eventually in rhythm would have been more forgiving.
The last 4 levels, the top screen literally in a different dimension with gravity pushing up and luminescent background. The final level is the end boss and destroying it will set your character free. Torment is perhaps the most difficult, and rewarding, auto-scrolling level I have ever encountered, not just trying to get a 5 star status (to unlock more levels, adding extra challenge to each alternative themes), the challenge is mainly to stay alive because there is no checkpoint in this level. Being on the bottom screen is safer; unfortunately, the moving platform that can take you to the exit is only accessible on the top screen. What’s more difficult is the fact that the alternative bottom screen is hazardously fill with lava and staying on the top screen too long will drain your health. A nice touch about the level is the fact that there’s an inescapable lazar chasing you just in case that you assume that there’s going to be another platform scrolling by after failing to catch up on landing the previous one.
I don’t blame Endgame Studios for this because of the finance issues and development hell. Unfortunately, after transition from DS retail to 3DS retail to Nintendo eShop, Fractured Soul looks and plays like a DS game base on my 3DS XL experience at least. The only 3DS related contain is the improved online Nintendo Network involving speed-run leaderboards and resolution (I guess). The soundtrack is also disappointing. The music from the trailer (and the reason way I bring it to the review) sounds more intriguing than the actual version in the game. A prison break involving alternative dimensions should never sound generic.
I’ll will give them credit for bringing a truly exclusive download title on the Nintendo 3DS. It breaks my 3DS XL heart when Mutant Mudds and Mighty Switch Force were once eShop exclusives, the type of platformers that can easily ported to another system especially Wii U. Fractured Soul is a one of a can platformer that is truly belongs on the current Nintendo handheld system and absolutely makes no sense of porting it over (I'm looking at you Chrono Twin).
Fractured Soul is definitely the hardest game to review. On one hand, the gameplay is coherently challenging from beginning to end, constantly delivering different styles of button configuration sequences between switches and double jumps, and the correct moment to use rapid shooting for speed-running purposes, in order to progress. On the other hand, there are some execution flaws and the unavoidable DS quality. Honestly though, Fractured Soul is the type of game I’m been waiting for on the Nintendo eShop and deserves the support. The service is mostly delivering superior, and inferior, version of a familiar singular screen adventure in stereoscopic 3D with so little advantage of the second screen, even if they’re useful. It’s no help that the Wii U is fast approaching. Luckily, Fractured Soul demonstrates that creative gameplay can exist when two screens attach.
8.1 / 10 eShop points
8- Great This is a great game that might have a few flaws or could have been better, but is still a game we highly recommend!