PAX East 2020 Hands-on: Young Souls

“Jenn and Tristan are two teenagers who find themselves suddenly abandoned and without a family until a good-hearted scientist adopts and brings them into his home settled within a small port town. Life in Portsbourgh for Jenn and Tristan proves uneventful. Uneventful, that is, until they uncover a portal to another world which threatens the very existence of life on Earth as we know it.”

That’s the intro for Young Souls, a deeply narrative action RPG created by 1P2P studio and developed and published by The Arcade Crew, a division of Dotemu.

Unlike the simple side-scrollers of the 80s, the story here is robust. After playing it for just a short amount of time, it’s obvious that the story, Written by Matthew Ritter (Telltale’s The Walking Dead, Life is Strange, and Dead Horizon, and more) is front and center. Even the routine tutorial fight feels natural, not forced, and story driven. The amount of text to introduce the player to the sudden disappearance of the “Professor”, as the adoptive scientist is called, and uncovering of the portal to the goblin world feels like it is just the right amount to engage the player but not distract from the core of the game.

Story notwithstanding, this is very much a combat game. The combat was reminiscent of the late 80s classic Double Dragon – in a very good way. A 2D side-scroller where you punch, block, roll, and combo them all together against a variety of enemies – in both strength and type. Defeat the group and move on to your next objective or fight. 

The gameplay of Young Souls alternates between daytime, where you are engage in more routine activities such as shopping or training, and nighttime, where you enter the goblin world for more dangerous combat.  

The last thing to take note of is the beautifully hand-drawn 2D graphics and animations. Not only are the main characters enjoyable to look at (with fully customizable gear and weapons), but the enemies and backgrounds are full of life and artistry. With more than 70 dungeons, Young Souls will sure to delight those who enjoy this type of game for many hours. After playing the demo, I was left wanting more.

No release date or platform have been announced at this time.