Stray Souls tells the story of Daniel, an average teenager who inherited the home of his estranged grandmother. As he’s still getting himself in this new abode, he notices a few weird things around the house. Via an online dating, he also comes across a girl who somehow knows a lot about his family, the house, and its shocking connection to his past. Daniel and this lady, named Martha, will have to explore Aspen Falls and learn about the past.
Stray Souls is a third person action survival horror game where the protagonist will explore various creepy areas, overcome deadly creatures and solve puzzles in order to solve Daniel’s mysterious and possibly sordid past. Combat is actually pretty straightforward; your pal gives you a gun and you can use it to defend yourself and eliminate any threat comprising your investigation.
You’ll also come across bosses which are abominable creations that will test your skills; there’s isn’t much to them, but you’ll need to time your shot and dodge accordingly. While you can simply avoid generic enemy encounters by running and rolling (a.k.a. dodging) your life away, obviously, you’ll need to take a stand against bosses. Running away from lower enemies will allow you save your bullets for tougher threats.
While saving bullets is a good idea in a survival horror game, Daniel will find plenty ammo scattered everywhere; however you can only carry a set amount of ammo, so you’ll possibly find ammo filled toolboxes that Daniel won’t bother with because he already has maxed out ammo. While interacting with NPCs, you’ll be able to make conversational choices that will shape the main character’s tone and personality.
The game looks like an early original Xbox game. Characters are bland, enemies come in a small variety; bosses are well done and quite horrifying. Environments are uninspired and do not sustain any possible creepy atmosphere nor scares. The first area, the house, does have a bit of uneasiness to it, but outside environments are wishy-washy. The voiceovers… exists I guess? It does sound like the actors tried their best, but they speak without inflection in their tones/voices. The soundtrack is fine; does have a bit of Silent Hill inspiration, but it’s far from the various masterpieces crafted by Akira Yamaoka.
Holy smokes where to begin. The game is riddled with flaws. First off, the character move like they’re muppets from Sesame Street with their arms flailing about. The voiceovers are laughable. When in conversations where you are required to make a choice, it takes a while for the game to acknowledge the selection and the conversation in truncated thus interrupting the flow. Also, some conversational choices are useless; you might choose option A, but the the conversation barely acknowledges this and continues as if you’d choose B. Whether this is an omission or on purposes, it makes up for a useless gameplay mechanic.
The combat is wobbly and everything but tight. Simply run away from everything, bosses aside, to save you some bullets, frustration and nuisances. But again it’s so bad, it might be worth a laugh. The fact that the developers used the term soulslike precision in some descriptive and marketing text for the game is an absolute joke. The visuals are uninspired and bland. The camera work is an absolute farce as sometimes it’s so poorly set up, you actually are oblivious to the scares wondering why the camera is zooming on nothing.
Stray Souls had a lot of potential of becoming a Silent Hill-like experience filing the void left by Konami (which they are trying to revive), but the execution falls flat. This game has no good redeeming qualities and there’s no reason to invest in this game, unless you’re looking for a laugh thanks to the precision-less combat, laughable voiceovers, poor editing when it comes to conversational choices. Had this game benefited from another year of development/polish/QA, it could’ve been a passable gaming experience. But in this state, I highly recommend to avoid at all costs. It manages to beat Greyhill Incident as worst horror game of 2023.
- Decent, albeit forgettable, soundtrack
- Conversational choices feels useless
- Combat is the opposite of fun
- Environment and characters are quite bland