3Souls: Episode I – Nelesa (Wii U) Review

By Nikola Suprak 06.10.2016

Review for 3Souls: Episode I – Nelesa on Wii U

The Wii U might not have the biggest market for indie games in comparison to some of the other platformers, but it is slowly growing its ranks with a bunch of quirky, interesting titles. There's a bit of a glut in the market these days, and indie titles are having to do more to distinguish themselves from their competitors. One of the newer indie games to find its way to the Wii U, 3Souls - Episode I: Nelesa from Red Column, is an episodic 2D puzzle-platformer that does have a nice little twist. Nearly all puzzles in the game can be solved through some functionality of the Wii U GamePad, making it feel like one of the few indie games for the Wii U that genuinely takes advantage of the hardware. It is certainly a novel twist, but whether or not this is enough to make 3Souls - Episode I: Nelesa a good game is a significantly more challenging question.

When the title boots up, players are hit with a concentrated dose of charm almost immediately. The adorable little pixelated hero is Nelesa, and when the game starts, she finds herself in the entirely un-adorable location of a prison cell. It isn't established at first what she's doing there, but it soon becomes clear that not all is well in her home world of Mustland. The brief story is told through little musings she has that can be listened in to from time to time, as she works her way through the perfectly imperfect backdrops. The art style almost looks deliberated unfinished at times, like the artist's rough draft somehow managed to find its way into the final game—yet, it works. The story and art style are both incredibly minimalistic here, but they work well together as the game establishes a somewhat sorrowful, hopeless tone.

Screenshot for 3Souls: Episode I – Nelesa on Wii U

Unfortunately, that about wraps up all the good things that can be said about 3Souls. This is meant to be the first part of a three-episode arc, with the next two portions being released later as DLC. It becomes apparent almost immediately, though, that there isn't enough content here to even really count this as an episode. When episodic games work, they tend to be story-heavy sorts of experiences, allowing the player to jump in and out as if they were reading chapters of a book.

It makes decidedly less sense to implement the same sort of model on what is essentially a puzzle-platformer, particularly because there isn't enough content here to make a satisfactory episode. If this was an episode of a television show, it would could off midway through the first commercial break and air static for the next twenty minutes, promising to release the other two segments a couple of months later as pay-per-view programming.

Screenshot for 3Souls: Episode I – Nelesa on Wii U

Worse than the brevity is the disappointing lack of ideas. If this was at least a clever little experience, perhaps the fact it is so short could be forgiven, but it certainly is not that. It does use the Wii U GamePad fairly well at times, and pretty much every challenge in the game needs to be tackled through some unique implementation of the GamePad. New tricks are introduced at regular intervals that use pretty much every aspect of the GamePad functionality. You'll need to blow into the microphone to launch Nelesa from a fan, move the GamePad up and down to find hidden platforms that aren't shown on the television, and locate specifically coloured objects in your actual house and get the GamePad to recognise it with the camera. It shows off the technology of the GamePad remarkably well, but, unfortunately, it never does it in a way that is remotely amusing.

Part of the problem is that the challenges here simply aren't interesting. Most of these tricks come up a mere handful of times in the entire game due to its brevity, and it moves on to the next idea without doing anything really fun with it. Hopefully it's fun to rummage around the house to find something that's the colour red, because it is going to be necessary to find something blue and green about ten seconds later. 3Souls has players combine colours or makes it necessary to scan them at a specific time with a prompt shown on the actual screen, but this isn't the sort of thing that anyone is going to find fun, challenging, or rewarding in any way. "Here's a neat trick the GamePad can do!" the game seems to say. Then it shows off a couple of simple examples of how the trick could be potentially used, before just skipping along to the next section without actually getting to the part where it improves the gameplay in some significant way.

Screenshot for 3Souls: Episode I – Nelesa on Wii U

Really, the question becomes, "Is this the sort of thing that is made better by using the GamePad?" and the answer is almost always a resounding "No." Does blowing into the microphone to get Nelesa to jump make the experience more fun than just using a button to do it? Absolutely not. This isn't using the GamePad in a clever or fun way, it is just using the GamePad to do something that would have been better off done by a simple button press.

The only interesting implementation at all is looking for hidden, moving platforms on the GamePad that don't show up on the screen. At the same time, the character is not seen on the GamePad at all, so it becomes necessary to calibrate movements by looking back and forth between the two. It is an interesting idea, at least—not that the two or three short platforming segments that come from it are particularly fun. More than anything, the GamePad feels intrusive, getting in the way of what little fun might be found in the game.

Screenshot for 3Souls: Episode I – Nelesa on Wii U

Cubed3 Rating

3/10
Rated 3 out of 10

Bad

Most games focus on the fun, but that really seems secondary to 3Souls - Episode I: Nelesa. While much is done to show off the different ways the GamePad can work, that's pretty much the only good thing there is to say about the experience. It would work wonderfully well if this was marketed as a tech demo for the hardware, but it is presumably supposed to be more than just that. As a whole, it is short, easy, uninteresting, and lacking any sort of major selling factor that would make anyone want to play it. Even at its bargain basement price on the eShop, it is hard to recommend this to anyone who isn't directly related to the people that worked on it. Its name might be 3Souls, but the games itself feels entirely soulless.

Developer

Red Column

Publisher

Red Column

Genre

2D Platformer

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  2/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date None   Australian release date Out now   

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