When Australian indie developer Endgame Studios first crafted the concept behind Fractured Soul, the game was a shoot-em-up heavily modeled on the duality of GameCube classic Ikaruga and George W. Bush was still President of the United States. Now, eight years and multiple premature obituaries later, the game is finally seeing the light of day on Nintendo 3DS’ currently flourishing eShop.
The game, a classic platformer that’s equal parts Mega Man and Mighty Switch Force, is played across both screens on the 3DS at once. By tapping either of the shoulder buttons, the player will switch between parallel worlds represented on the top and bottom screens of the 3DS. This is absolutely vital in order to avoid hazards, enemies and death traps. And as if that wasn’t enough, later levels include shifts in gravity and even some shoot-em-up sections.
The key to success in Fractured Soul is to take your time: players who are accustomed to flying through Mario levels in one go will find themselves failing repeatedly at the same death trap or enemy. The game was clearly developed with speed-run enthusiasts in mind but, in order to truly succeed at it, one must be patient and precise. That said, once you train to a point where you can breeze through the levels with ease, you can then upload your fastest times to the game’s online leaderboards. Being able to shave seconds off of a run of a particularly difficult level then show your friends your astounding achievement online can be extremely satisfying.
Let’s not beat around the bush though: Fractured Soul is incredibly difficult. During my review run of the game, I found myself dying in the first couple levels over and over again. Sometimes there’ll be a situation in which two platforms, each only visible on either screen, must be traversed while a giant wall of deadly lasers stands between them and the only way to avoid certain death is by timing your jumps and switches down to the microsecond. Thankfully, you can retry a challenge as many times as you need to so even casual players will be able to make it through the game with enough determination.
Unfortunately or thankfully, depending on how you look at it, Fractured Soul does not use the 3DS’ stereoscopic display. Since the game requires the player to constantly switch their focus between the two screens of the handheld, the developers felt that it was better to leave the 3D out of it entirely. Environments have a great polygonal sci-fi design to them; just don’t expect the graphical depth you’ve seen in other 3DS eShop exclusive titles.
All in all, Fractured Soul offers an addictive, challenging and unique take on the precision platformer. With a beefy main quest, bonus levels, speed-run leaderboards and tons of secrets, fans of Mega Man and Wayforward games should feel right at home. If you own a 3DS, and you’re looking for a hardcore downloadable experience that will provide hours of gameplay without leaving too big of a hole in your wallet, Fractured Soul is a great choice.
VG Tribune gives Fractured Soul 8.0 out of 10
This review was based off of a copy of the title provided to us by Nintendo of America.