Soul Gambler Review

Don't do it! You'll regret it!

  • Developer: Tion Studios
  • Publisher: Gamestorming
  • Release Date: 1 August 2013
  • Time played: 40 minutes

Thanks to my Steam mate Mix-Master, I've managed to score another free Steam game (cheers bro). I was curious about Soul Gambler because, as you know, I'm a fan of games with strong narrative or story, so visual novels, point 'n' click adventures and role-playing games are usually up my alley. Soul Gambler is apparently a visual novel based on one of the most famous plays to come out of Germany, Goethe's Faust. Goethe's Faust is apparently a tragic play which is based off a classic German legend where a scholar who is highly successful yet dissatisfied with life makes a pact with the Devil to exchange his soul for unlimited knowledge and worldly pleasures (thanks Wikipedia!). Since Goethe's Faust is apparently one of the greatest works of German literature, Soul Gambler has a lot to live up to. Does it manage to do so?

Plot (4/5)
You start off the game as a man named Faust who seems to be the unluckiest person on the planet and has a terribly boring, humdrum existence. One day while leaving work, Faust is approached by a mysterious woman that offers to grant him any wish in exchange for him selling part of his soul. And so the soul gambling (or not) begins.

While the game seemed pretty silly at first, I was intrigued by what was actually going on towards the end. The earlier parts seemed a bit like the movie "Bedazzled" - you know the movie with Brendan Fraser being tempted by Elizabeth Hurley as the Devil? Oh wait a minute, I just discovered it's a remake of a 1967 film which is in turn a comedic retelling of the Faust legend - so that's probably why this game reminded me of that particular movie :).

The game does become a bit more serious towards the end though and it seems more is at stake than some harmless granting of wishes.

Gameplay (4/5)
The game is a visual novel which means it's a narrative where you can change how the story unfolds depending on which choices you make - a bit like those Choose Your Own Adventure books of the 80s. So gameplay is pretty simple although I have to give some credit to Tion Studios since they've made it slightly different to many visual novels in that they've incorporated rudimentary stats to the game a bit like a role-playing game. You can choose to invest points in the beginning for things like strength, intelligence and charisma, and at certain points of the game it will perform a check against your stats in order to determine whether you are successful with certain encounters or not (e.g. checking you have high enough intelligence to provide some extra insight).

Sound (5/5)
The game contains no voice acting and has minimal sound effects. No issues with the audio.

Music (2/5)
Music is okay but there's only four tracks in the soundtrack and they're actually selling it as paid DLC! Sure it's only $2 for an artbook and the soundtrack but you can definitely find better value with respect to DLC elsewhere.

Graphics (3/5)
The game has some good artwork of the comic book variety. Sometimes the style even reminds me of the early Broken Sword games.

Could choosing which alcoholic beverage to drink mean the difference between life and death?

Replay (1/5)
Since it only took me 40 minutes for one playthrough of this game, you can tell it's a very short game, even by visual novel standards. There are also no Steam achievements even though the game has in-game achievements - surely it wouldn't have been too much to ask them to integrate it with Steam's achievements right (although admittedly, I've never done it myself so who knows)? Being a visual novel though, there's bound to be different paths you can take depending on what stats you pick at the beginning of the game and what choices you make in the game proper.

Polish (5/5)
I didn't encounter any serious bugs while playing this game and the interface seemed intuitive enough.

Score – 7/10

Soul Gambler happens to introduce some gameplay elements that improve the traditional visual novel formula but ultimately the game is too short to make it a memorable or meaningful experience.

If you want to get the game, you can get it on Steam.

If you like this game, you might like...

[ LINK: Official Soul Gambler website]