There is a lot of debate surrounding the distinctions between consciousness and AI which many scientists and creatives try to address. There are plenty of stories about machines developing a way of thinking that makes them wonder whether they are alive and what that means. On the other side, there are stories of humans undergoing so much artificial transformation to the point where they may not even be human anymore. Then there are synergy scenarios such as the one that occurs in Chaotic Lab's System Of Souls. This puzzling journey puts you in a robotic body with a human mind and a past to uncover.
When characters find themselves in an extensive facility, the plot tends to revolve around why they're there or something they need to do within it. That's the basis for the story in System Of Souls. You play as someone who wakes up to find himself in a brand new robotic body. He learns that he was placed into it due to the extensive damage done to his human body. After being greeted by the AI system AURA in the ION facility, your mission becomes clear: Recover your memories using a grappling beam and time dilation to find a way back to your original body. This is a pretty direct objective with some intrigue surrounding your progression.
When it comes to technological systems, you'd prefer to have the newest model. In System Of Souls, there are elements that make the game feel cutting edge. In terms of aesthetics, it covers the idea of a very ordered and clean future. All rooms are smooth, bright, and designed in a way that makes them feel futuristic and purely artificial. The robots walking around and the abilities you have access to help sell the idea that you're in a robotic shell with the latest tech to address the trials ahead of you.
In terms of the gameplay and narrative, there are some interesting ideas. The rooms present a combination of devices and structures that look like a mess to catch you off guard. However, when approached in pieces, you can clearly see how every piece fits together like it would in a system. The story behind the main character and what happened to them creates a mystery that stays with you throughout. Just like the puzzles, each memory you find has value on its own while also fitting into a much larger picture. This makes it feel like the whole game is just one large puzzle.
When making a new machine, you want to make sure all the parts are compatible. System Of Souls makes some mistakes in putting older parts with newer parts. To put it simply: This game tries to be like Portal but is far from it. Though many of the aesthetics work, it's almost too artificial. There's no sense of life or energy anywhere in the game, and the protagonist has no real depth to them to add any value to the journey they're going on.
For the puzzles, the layouts can be interesting but the solving can be frustrating. This game makes a big mistake in creating a 3D first platformer with no flexibility. It's very hard to gauge distances and height without constantly looking at the ground. It also expects you to do a lot of precision platformer where one wrong step sends you all the way back to square. Also, while the physics adds a certain level of realism, there's precision in manipulating objects too which can work against you if they don't land just right.
Lastly, there's a distinct lack of sound throughout the whole game. There aren't many pleasing sound effects or soundtracks to accompany your trials. This is particularly noticeable in AURA who serves as your main companion but only appears as a series of text boxes without a voice.
System of Souls Review | Final Thoughts
System Of Souls is a first-person 3D puzzle-platformer about recovering human memories in a robot body. The visuals fit with some interesting puzzle designs and intrigue to keep you playing. However, it can be easy to quit from all the frustration caused by the poor platforming, lack of energy, and limited sound. If you've got time, boot up the system and give it a shot.
TechRaptor reviewed System Of Souls on PlayStation 5 with a copy provided by the publisher. It's also available on PlayStation 4.
- Solid futuristic aesthetics to complement the story
- Some cool puzzles and plot pieces
- A cold, and lackluster artificial world
- Unrefined and finicky FPS platforming
- Very little SFX and music