Previously announced for the DS but now heading to 3DS, Fractured Soul: Deep Void aims to put its own spin on 2D platform shooters. Protagonist Jake DeSaul is a troubled man with a mysterious past that’s forced to confront his demons in order to escape a strange space station. As you progress through Fractured Soul's mix of 2D platforming and top-down shooter levels, you’ll have to face Jake’s hopes, dreams, and regrets he’s had throughout his life, and the line between what’s real and what's not will gradually become blurrier.
Unlike most 3DS and DS games, Fractured Soul uses both screens for main gameplay for the entire game. Both top and bottom screens are connected; think of it like the top screen is a level above the bottom one. For most of the game the screens are pretty similar to each other. There will be however, some levels with divided regions like, water on the bottom and land on top.
Each screen contains a body, either your opaque soul body form or your corporeal human body, and you can switch the position of the forms at any time. You can only control the human body though, which you use to take out enemies and jump across platforms with the help of your complementary jetpack. Your soul merely mirrors the human form on the other screen, duplicating all your movements. Although it's unable to fire at enemies, the soul form plays a crucial role in that it can pass through walls like a ghost. For the beginning stages of Fractured Soul, your soul form mostly serves the purpose of allowing the human form access to areas it couldn’t normally reach by positioning itself on the other side of a wall or blockade and switching positions with the human form. This adds a puzzle element to the normal platforming action, since you have to figure out how to switch back and forth between both levels to get the soul form in the correct position that will allow you to proceed.
Timing your moves will play a bigger part as the levels and puzzles get harder, keeping you on your toes. Traps and other hazards like harmful lasers, will have repeated set of patterns forcing you to time your moves to get around them. We got to try out one of the levels deeper in the game, which takes place in the interior of a space ship with inverted gravity. As we played through, we discovered when switching screens the controls also became switched and were now the opposite of what they were originally. With more enemies firing at you and more puzzling obstacles, adding backwards controls is just another obstacle you’ll have to add to your list.
Fractured Soul will also feature top-down shooter levels that are similar to Galaga where you’ll fly in a space ship and shoot enemies. You’ll still be using both screens like in the other levels, meaning you can switch positions with the soul form of the ship whenever you need to. Don’t think you can just keep switching screens to avoid enemies though; these levels have a timer that counts down if you haven’t killed enough adversaries on a certain screen, causing your ship to explode if you don't shoot them down fast enough. We also got to come up against a boss, which can also use both screens to fight you. Rather than switching screens, it treated them as one screen, allowing it to fire more often and quicker, instead of spending a moment of valuable time changing screens.
Gameplay aside, Fractured Soul has over 30 different levels in five different natural environments including fire, water, and ice levels. With this new take on gameplay, we’re interested to see what else is in store for Jake. Fractured Soul: Deep Void is set to release Summer 2012.
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