Fractured Soul has had a challenging road towards publication. First designed for the original Nintendo DS, publisher NV3 Games never brought the game to market but continues to own the rights to it. Next, developer Endgame Studios remade Fractured Soul with a new, polygon-based look and hooked up with publisher Ignition... who also dropped out of the deal before ever releasing the game, leaving Endgame once again to figure out where to go.
Where Fractured Soul is going is to the eShop, at this point. I'm just glad it's coming out at all.
Fractured Soul 3DS (Nintendo 3DS)
A 2D platformer at its core, Fractured Soul uses the two screens of the 3DS to represent two different versions of a stage, running in parallel, neither of which can be traversed in their entirety as they are fraught with dead ends and gaps wider than can be jumped. The player must pass back and forth from one to the other to progress from the left end of the stage to the right, contending with robotic enemies and trying to keep from falling through the bottom of the level.
Gravity is your enemy most of the time, though things do get pretty pitched in combat. The two-screen mechanic allows for some devilish placement of enemies which allow little in terms of reaction time and players will likely learn quickly to combine their jumping and screen transfer abilities to avoid getting killed.
Fractured Soul consists of a series of worlds, with each applying a different effect to the upper screen. Water-based stages give buoyancy at the cost of maneuverability, much as we've all come to expect, while a fire world limits the amount of time the player can spend on the upper screen by slowly draining health. The most clever of all is a world which reverses gravity, leading to a whole host of tricky, satisfying platform jumping.
I had assumed that playing a platformer which required me to pay attention to the happenings on two screens simultaneously would be rather challenging. To my surprise, this didn't happen in Fractured Soul. Very quickly, I came to realize that the player doesn't generally have to keep track of the screen they aren't presently occupying, as the level design is such the player can instantly recognize when they're going to have to change their position.
It's one of the better platforming experiences I've had in the last year, with responsive controls, challenging level design and a clever concept. It's a game which deserves to be played and, hopefully, we'll finally get to do that this summer when Endgame Studios brings it to the eShop.
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10:00 AM on 10.01.2014