Soul Axiom Rebooted is an upgraded version of the original Soul Axiom. There are a whole lot of additions, improvements, and fixes from the original which makes Soul Axiom Rebooted the superior option. But do people coming back around have any good reason to return to Elysia? Is the game even worth picking up in the first place? Well, let’s find out!
Soul Axiom Rebooted takes you on a strange and eclectic journey through the weird yet mesmerizing cyber-world of Elysia. You are never quite aware who you are playing as, so it is quite difficult to invest in your character’s actions.
It is difficult to critique this story, honestly. On the one hand, it is interesting and I looked forward to each passing memory that you collect upon finishing each puzzle level. But on the other hand, I was a bit overwhelmed trying to make sense of everything.
There are collectables throughout the game that serve as memories, known in the game as PEMOs (Personal Message Objects). These add more to the story and attempt to fill in certain holes, but I found myself losing more and more interest the more I tried reading these notes and such.
There is clearly a villain in the game too, but once again, I have no idea who it was, even after completing the game. I have an idea, but that is precisely part of the problem with Soul Axiom Rebooted’s story is that it depends too much on you, the player, to figure things out. I do not mind having to think about stories, but when I absolutely cannot make sense of it, it is quite difficult to invest and to even care.
Despite that, the characters throughout the story were quite interesting, and I rather enjoyed the cutscenes and how they slowly revealed information throughout the game. As I said, it is a strange and eclectic story, but I still found myself wondering until the end.
Soul Axiom Rebooted is a first-person puzzle platformer. It shares parts from games like Portal, The Witness, and The Talos Principle, and it mostly does so quite well. It is such a refreshing blend of various first-person puzzles that I often found myself impressed by how well the combinations actually worked.
The main mechanic in Soul Axiom Rebooted are your hands. Well, not just any ol’ simple hands, but ones that have been uniquely powered up within the world of Elysia. As you progress in the early stages, you will acquire three different types of hand powers. Since these abilities are not properly introduced in the game, I will do my best to describe them here. One ability allows one hand to “particlize” certain matter, and the other hand to return the matter to its original form. The second ability allows one hand to “play” with certain objects, which means you are allowed to manipulate and move them around, while the other hand can pause the “played” objects to stay in a particular place. Finally, we have the blaster, which is… well… simply a blaster. You shoot beams from your hands that destroy things.
All three of these hand powers are necessary to not only solve the puzzles, but to advance the story and find PEMOs throughout the game.
Each ability is cued by a color as well, and the team did a really good job helping to highlight puzzle areas by giving objects a glow that that represents one of the abilities. The “particlizer” is blue, the “player” is green, and the “blaster” is orange/gold. This helped to make progression a lot smoother, especially since some of the puzzles were a lot more obscure than I would have preferred.
There are lots of puzzles, too. There are four tiers of puzzles for the main story, but you can also unlock more puzzles by finding these purple cubes within each of the main puzzle. On top of that, this new version of the game also provides more puzzle rooms after you finish the game. Between the regular story puzzles, the negative puzzles, the extra puzzles, and all the collectives within each area, there is a lot to enjoy here.
But not all of the glitter is gold. There were two particular main story puzzles that drove me a bit mad. One was the hospital, and the other was the time machine. The hospital felt aimless for most of the experience. It was just difficult to figure out what they wanted you to do in this giant area with tons of accessible rooms. The time machine, also, just required WAY too much dependency on using the time machine. I understand that was the gimmick of the level, but it felt a bit abusive how much I had to use it.
Despite those two areas, the rest of the game is thoroughly enjoyable. The puzzles are the highlight of the game, as they should be. Each puzzle area looks and feels different which really helps to mix things up, and the unique hand powers are an awesome mechanic that the developers did a fantastic job of implementing into each puzzle.
For the most part, the music in Soul Axiom Rebooted fits well. There were a couple soundtrack choices I found to be rather strange and unfitting, but that was not common. There are a lot of tracks, and it never feels like you are listening to the same song more than once, which I found to be impressive.
Unfortunately, I cannot say the same about the voice acting. Although I appreciate the effort and addition of voice acting, most of the time it was rough to listen to. There was little-to-no emotion in the delivery, and it made caring about some of the individual characters very hard. I do not usually pan voice work, but this was honestly one that I had trouble enjoying.
VISUALS & PERFORMANCE
The visuals were okay. There were times when Soul Axiom Rebooted looked impressive, but overall, the graphics and 3D models were average at best. For example, some of the 3D models used in the puzzles looked amazing, like the hub area and its wonderfully lit towers. Other times, the 3D models looked poor, like cabinets, beds, and drapes in a few of the scenarios that looked like little effort was put into them.
The lighting effects, especially, looked amazing, particularly the hand powers and how they glowed in different environments. I loved the vibrant colors used throughout the games, which is another reason I did not enjoy the hospital puzzle, because it was so dark and dingy. Thankfully, most of the game was wonderfully colored and visually appealing.
I did experience some performance issues, though. There were a couple times when objects completely disappeared from the level, and I had no choice but to restart the stage. There was two times I experienced screen tearing, but it was honestly not noticeable unless you searched for it… like I tend to do. And I did get launched off the map one time when I tried to jump up a ladder in the mansion puzzle. These issues do exist, but they honestly did not affect things too much. However, be aware of them.
Now, is Soul Axiom Rebooted worth your time and money? Well, I honestly believe it is. Sure, it is not quite to the same level of quality as The Witness or Portal, but for the price, Soul Axiom Rebooted is a great value for anyone looking for a challenging and varied first-person puzzle game.
The game will run you $12.99 in the US, £9.99 in UK, and €12,99 in Europe, which is quite the amazing starting price, considering you are getting at least 15 hours worth of gameplay. That is even considering that you are a puzzle master and will solve all of the game’s puzzles with no problem at all. It is honestly a lot of bang for your buck, even if it has a few problems. If this is a genre you enjoy, then I highly recommend checking out Soul Axiom Rebooted.
Story - 6/10
Gameplay - 8/10
Audio - 7/10
Visuals & Performance - 6/10
Value - 9/10
Soul Axiom Rebooted is a first-person puzzler of amazing value. It may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but it provides a lot of gameplay for your money. There are some problems and it may not be the best puzzle game out there, but it is definitely worth your time, especially for that awesome price.
- Great puzzle mechanics with hand powers
- Varied and unique levels
- Wonderful lighting
- Fantastic value
- Difficult to invest in the story
- Bad voice acting
- Some technical issues