Soulbrain I – Village Review

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Title: Soulbrain I – Village
Developer: Lightning Game Studios
Game Type: PlayStation Mobile
Download:  162 MB
NA Availability: 
Digital Download, Direct Download
EU Availability: Digital Download, Direct Download

Ever since Unity became available to PlayStation Mobile developers, the majority of new games for the platform have utilized this system to create 3D games as well as more advanced 2D games.  From 3D games like Silver Zombie to 2D games like Paper Boss, Unity has been a big part of PlayStation Mobile for the past couple months of content.  More games are coming out as well, offering more in-depth visuals and some more in-depth experiences on the platform.

That number will continue to grow as well.  Just as Unity has become available, Unity Pro has also become available for PlayStation developers, and it comes free of charge.  Although Android support for PlayStation Mobile has been discontinued, the PS Vita is continually getting more and more of these Unity games.  And today, we have a new review for one such game.

The biggest and most visually pleasing Unity games are the 3D games.  Some of them can look like PSP games and some can look even better than PSP games.  Others have more anime looks to them.  Today, we are reviewing an anime-like Unity game that shows off 3D visuals and exploration.  Here is our official review of Soulbrain I – Village, labeled on the PSN Store as Solbrain I – Village!

Story

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There isn’t a real story to this game.  The game doesn’t really showcase a specific setting for you, either.  You are just thrown into a village and you go at it.

By looking at the setting, the best guess for a storyline is that you are playing the role of a young, blonde woman, whom is on a quest to search for glowing orbs that have been scattered throughout the village.  Based on how the gameplay goes, it also goes to assume that she is on a tight schedule and has to collect these very quickly.

All in all, though, there is no storyline to this game.  You are not given a plotline or environment.  You are just thrown in and go at it.

Gameplay

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At its very basic, Soulbrain I is a 3D Adventure game.  You are thrown into a 3D environment that you can explore, kind of like in a sandbox game, but less in-depth.  When you play each run through the game, you will have the camera behind the female character and you can run through the environments as well as inside areas and in buildings.

The goal of the game is to find glowing orbs.  There are 5 orbs of various colors scattered throughout the large sandbox environment.  Your goal is to find all five of these before the time runs out.  There isn’t a map, so your job is to find where these are and get to them all before the timer runs to 0.  This has a very nostalgic feel to it, as there isn’t anything to help you find these.  You’re just thrown into the game and have to figure out the locations and where to go for yourself.

The biggest part of this game is the fact that you’re on a timer, and on a very strict one.  You are tasked with finding all 5 of these orbs in less than 3 minutes.  While at first this doesn’t sound very hard, you will find that it is.  The environment you’re thrown into is a very large environment.  Even when you’re running, you will not want to waste any time getting side-tracked or you won’t be able to complete the game.  When we had every location memorized and went straight for the orbs to finish the game, we had all of 12 seconds remaining on the timer.  This game is not easy.  It’s has a surprising amount of difficulty with not much room for error.

Once you collect all five of the orbs, you’ve pretty much done everything you can in the game.  You can re-do the game to be able to get a better high score with your timing, but there are no other game modes or levels for you to participate in.  The entire game can be beaten in just a few minutes, while you may be playing up to an hour with retrying to figure out where everything is.

Controls

As far as controls are concerned, they are extremely light.  The touch screen is used in the game, but not very much.  When you first boot up the game and get to the Main Menu, you will tap the touch screen to start a new game.  Outside of that, the touch controls aren’t used at all for actual gameplay.  There also aren’t any touch controls enabled for gameplay, nor can you enable any.  Moving around the village, itself, is purely done with the buttons on the PlayStation Vita.

Button controls are light as well.  In fact, you will only be using two buttons throughout the entire game.  Those two buttons are the Left Analog Stick and the Start button.  The Start button doesn’t do much, though.  You’ll be using it to pause the game, but it doesn’t do anything regarding actual gameplay or finding the five orbs you need to complete the mission.

The Left Analog Stick is used for moving your character through the map.  The camera is always behind your character, so you can move in any direction you want.  The camera will then automatically move behind the character to always show the same perspective.  This is a good response from the camera, but the controls don’t feel optimized.  When you use the Analog, the way it responds feels more like a D-Pad, like when you map D-Pad controls to the Right Analog in a PS1 or PSP game.

The controls also are not consistent.  When you press Up on the Analog Stick, you will not go perfectly straight.  You will go straight and turn right at the same time.  The controls aren’t completely optimized and it feels very awkward to try and get used to them.

Presentation

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As far as the in-game graphics are concerned, Soulbrain I does look exceptional for a PlayStation Mobile title.  It uses a cell-shaded style of design and many of the models of your character and the environment look pretty clear.  There are some clipping issues with you passing through objects or your character’s arms moving through their hair.  Overall, though, it does look like a visually pleasing game.

How the game plays, however, is something that needs to be addressed.  Despite the game looking good, there are some issues with the frame-rate.  When you’re running across the map, the frame-rate will jump and drop a lot.  It will not be consistent.  There are many situations where the game stutters and will jump from one area to another from the constant motion and the seemingly-random gameplay.  It will also stutter when turning and with loading the game.

That brings us to the load times.  The load times are pretty long for a PlayStation Mobile game.  When you first boot up the game, you will be waiting a good 10-15 seconds to get to the Main Menu.  This is more apparent when loading a game, though.  When you load the game, you will be waiting almost 10 seconds.  When the game finishes loading the game, the sound drops and the game lags and stutters for a few seconds before loading the stage.

Overall

Soulbrain I – Village is a visually pleasing game.  It also shows a short, but pleasantly difficult experience.  However, with the game’s various technical shortcomings and a steep $8 price-tag for a 3-minute game, it’s hard to recommend this to anyone but hardcore fans of anime-style cell-shaded games.

The PlayStation Vita Review Network Rates Soulbrain I – Village a 4/10

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