What lies after death? An untold number of people have wondered that throughout history, and it’s a question that we may never see truly answered. And yet, it certainly does not stop people from making theories, and Fuz Games’s guess with Restless Soul is as good as any: what lies after death is a silly afterlife.
Developed by a single developer and published by Graffiti Games, Restless Soul is a quirky, humorous adventure in the afterlife where the player assists a nameless soul in their quest to return to the land of the living. With a mixture of puzzles, bullet hell segments, and more than a small number of oddball characters standing between it and the living world, Restless Soul is just as its name implies - the farthest thing from resting in peace!
The Good - Classic Looks
Restless Soul has a minimalistic presentation and for most of its runtime, it isn’t much to look at, however it nails its musical presentation. Although the music provided isn’t particularly complex, the game’s soundtrack is very charming and full of catchy little tunes and leitmotifs, some of which sound like they could have come from some old classic games, particularly from the Game Boy era. Restless Soul has the type of soundtrack that is perfect to hum repeatedly long after the game has been put down.
The game is a 2.5D adventure with a focus on bullet hell-like segments, but doesn’t shy away from trying its hand at many other gameplay mechanics throughout different parts of the adventure. Adding things such as different perspectives during battle segments, sliding puzzles and even fast-paced platforming keep adding to the experience, and no mechanic overstays its welcome - rather, they are all made to work well together, and help add to the chaotic and random atmosphere that has been given to its main setting.
- Catchy, charming soundtrack
- Varied, interconnected gameplay mechanics
The Bad -... is that it?
Restless Soul tries a lot of things throughout its run, from its aforementioned variety of gameplay mechanics to its different scenarios and characters, varied areas and side puzzles. But at the crux of it all, the lynchpin to the game’s identity is its comedy. Restless Soul is a light-hearted comedic game from minute one and embraces that fully, which makes it all the more grating when the truth bomb falls: It’s just not funny. Restless Soul tries to be snarky and overly quirky; that’s the entire joke. Although comedy is subjective, the execution of it is done in a sloppy, tired manner and every aspect of the game suffers because of it.
Throughout its entire run, Restless Soul relies on the same few jokes told nonstop in a few different ways: “X is a smartass”, fourth-wall breaking, visual gags, and vaguely quirky random non-sequiturs. Of these, only the visual gags seem to come from a place of creativity and good will, playing around with the sprites of the characters and their two dimensional nature - everything else in the game’s comedy feels like it is only trying to poke fun at itself, when it has done nothing worth poking fun at to begin with. The game revels way too much in its own perceived humor without actually delivering anything new or unexpected.
Another aspect that drags the game down tremendously is that despite clearly trying to do a lot of things, none of the things that Restless Soul does are really worthy of note or receive any real amount of depth. The battles, puzzles and challenge mechanics are terribly easy, and demand just enough attention for the player to stay awake, with little variation and very safe design. They are straightforward and although there is some baseline fun to be had, it all just feels very shallow: defeating a boss hardly feels like an accomplishment. Everything just feels uninteresting five minutes after introduction.
On top of all that, there are essentially no real characters: the game is heavily populated with many NPCs and towns, and 90% of them serve no purpose other than to deliver some form of short-lived joke and can be completely skipped. This leaves very little incentive for the player to talk to people or attempt to immerse themselves into the world unless they happen to find the game’s brand of humour to be a riot. The few characters that actually have some semblance of personality are amusing enough, but there is still nothing truly interesting to any of them. It’s very hard to feel engaged while playing Restless Soul because there is nobody to truly pay attention to, and at no point does the game treat any of its characters seriously enough to give some meat to its meagre plotline.
All of that could be excused if the game managed to deliver upon the basic premise of comedy; but with most of its jokes falling flat, the lack of polish and depth given to other aspects truly shows, and it is not pretty.
- Uncreative, uninspired, overused humour
- Shallow gameplay segments
- No characters worth engaging with
Final Score: 3/10
Restless Soul is the first project by a single developer and as far as debut projects go, it’s a half-decent product, free of jarring bugs or glitches. But as a game and as an experience, it commits the worst sins possible: it’s boring. It’s forgettable. It barely tried anything. It wasted its positive points.
The single impression given off by the game is that it is banking entirely on its atmosphere and quirky personality to carry it through, as if a good punchline could excuse a game with minimal effort put into other more basic and fundamental aspects. In reality, it wasn’t even close - the joke fell flat, and the game isn’t fun. Restless Soul is all quirk and no substance. RIP.
Thank you for checking out our Restless Soul Switch review, thank you to Graffiti Games for providing the review code and thank you to our Patreon Backers for their ongoing support: