6SOULS REVIEW (XBOX SERIES S)
In this beautifully pixelated hardcore platformer, adventurer Jack and his talking canine companion Butch journey to an abandoned castle to presumably find treasure but end up stumbling into the evil plan of a warlock who has trapped the Clifford family into Soul Crystals. Kill the bosses that guard each wing of the castle to rescue a member of the Clifford family. You’re their only hope and (you never know) they might reward you handsomely for doing so. The plot is paper thin but it’s just enough to hold it all together.
6Souls is a hardcore platformer in the same vein as Celeste. As Jack you’re limited to a single jump but can climb up walls and jump from them, and you can also use large objects like wooden boxes to gain extra height. These ideas are quickly ignored though once Jack is able to use Soul Boost – which is the true bread-and-butter of 6Souls. Every time you rescue a member of the Clifford Family you gain a Soul Boost, which basically allows Jack to quick-dash like Quick Silver all over the map. The more Cliffords you rescue the more consecutive Soul Boosts you unlock, which leads to increasingly difficult situations and environmental challenges.
Butch can double-jump and crawl into tight spaces but, despite being a dog, can’t inflict any damage onto enemies. As a supporting character, Butch is criminally underused and there’s no reason why Jack couldn’t crawl into the tight spaces on his own. Butch does get his own level though, which balances the gameplay out a little bit but the sad reality is that Butch could be cut out entirely and the game would barely be any different. On the plus side, his cowardice adds comic relief to their treasure hunt and if any of the characters develop over the course of the story it’s Butch.
Gameplay is simple and addictive but requires precision, persistence and patience. Levels load up almost instantly after dying, which is a must in the hardcore platforming genre. There are collectible coins and bacon rashers to find so if you’re a completionist you’re going to want to grab them all. They’re usually floating in precarious places that aren’t always worth reaching out for, so don’t feel bad for ignoring them. There are also hidden mirrors to find that unveil portraits.
And if you’re an achievement hunter 6Souls is super easy to 100% complete.
A major glitch I encountered regularly was if you got hit by an enemy while using the binoculars you wouldn’t be able to stop using them, essentially getting locked into what I like to call Sitting Duck Mode. The only way to reset was to die and restart the level. It might not sound like a big deal but the guard button is so close to the binoculars button that it wasn’t an uncommon occurrence to hit the wrong button by mistake.
Admittedly, I never managed to get past Chapter 8, Level 3. On one attempt Jack fell through the level and I had to restart my Xbox to continue, and on two occasions while playing as Butch the controls would lock up after a jump, sending the poor pooch to his painful death. After multiple attempts I ran out of patience, and besides fighting the final boss I think I had experienced everything 6Souls had to offer.
The problem with hardcore platformers like 6Souls is they have to feel reliable, and if they can’t pull that off it breaks the eb-and-flow of the genre. Every player going into 6Souls should know they will be dying aplenty but it’s also important to realise it’s usually the player’s own fault. This is forgivable until it’s the game’s fault, and when that realisation hits it’s difficult to forgive the game and carry on.
From what I played I found it genuinely fun. Frustrating, sure, but for the most part fun. The bugs have left me feeling butthurt though and I no longer have the composure to push through them.
Should you play it? Maybe
Why… There are better hardcore platformers out there. 6Souls attempts to include a unique selling point in the guise of a dog but Butch’s inclusion is meaningless. Being defeated by a series of glitches will ruin your appetite to persist too.
But… If you’re up for a challenge you will enjoy it. Environments and bosses vary in style and difficulty as you progress, and it’s an easy game to get 100% of Achievements, so there’s at least three golden nuggets of positivity to cling to.
Reviewed on Xbox Series S
Publisher: Ratalaika Games
Playable on: PS4/PS5/Xbox/Switch/PC
Released: 3rd December, 2021