With Soul Fjord releasing on Ouya, it seemed like a good time as any to fire up my Ouya and feature a few games on our Twitch channel. Click here to watch the whole show with War Daddy bonus footage or catch the highlights on YouTube below.
Soul Fjord: Airtight Games’ roguelike rhythm-based beat ’em up gets put through the wringer. I try to make it all the way to Valhalla while also showing off some sweet loot, and trying to keep my rhythm. I often fail to do so.
DEF: This Ouya-exclusive tower defense game is very glowy, and features very minimalist graphics: everything is a glowing square! It’s also very challenging, as I try to survive the game’s third level. It may or may not go well.
Golden Scarab: However, I take my revenge on OMGWTFGAMES by playing their dual-stick shooter, and putting a good run in on their singleplayer high score in this also-glowy game.
Soul Fjord, from Kim Swift’s Airtight Games, her being known for helping design Portal, has been anticipated on the Ouya as one of its exclusives that could help justify the platform. After all, Towerfall remained the best reason to have an Ouya for all these months. Soul Fjord comes to the plate with a concept that’s almost too cool: a beat ’em up with roguelike elements with rhythm-based combat that’s set in a hybrid blaxploitation and Norse mythology universe. It just doesn’t quite live up to it.
Soul Fjord has players controlling Magnus Jones, a righteous dude who dies, goes to Valhalla to party in the afterlife, but gets rejected by a no-good doorman. So, he has to fight his way back up Yggdrasil to get into Valhalla by force. It won’t be easy, as every time he fails, he returns to the beginning of his quest with no gold, and only the items that were bound to his soul.
The combat is a combo-based hack ‘n slash system: there’s two attack buttons and a block button that can be timed to enemy attacks or used to dodge. There’s also a rhythm bar below Magnus on screen, and players must time their attacks and blocks to this rhythm bar to do maximum damage, with critical attacks and enemy stuns possible by timing to this meter.
The key problem with Soul Fjord to a great degree is that mixture of the rhythm and beat ’em up elements. When facing an enemy one-on-one, the rhythm parts work great, as there’s a great flow to the combat. When fighting groups of enemies, or ones that move around a lot, that’s where the combat breaks down and stops being much fun. Keeping track of not just the rhythm meter, but also who’s attacking and from where is just tricky. As well, the items, which provide helpful boosts, can be tricky to discern their effect from just the icon alone.
The controls could use some remapping – having the top Y button serve as the critical attack button can throw one off, because it’s such an extended stretch of the thumb that it throws off my rhythm, at least. If it was set to B, it would work better. Having to switch items with the d-pad and trigger with the shoulder buttons just feels odd. A game so focused on rhythm should be consciously avoiding breaking the player’s mental rhythm.
Soul Fjord is free-to-play, and surprisingly – if not exceedingly – fair in doing so. A coin doubler can be had at launch for 20 records, the game’s hard currency, and that’s a $1.99 IAP to get enough, or even just playing a bit in the game to collect them. Records being attainable through actual play feels good. As well, the chests which contain special items are a good bargain, as they usually contain very good items and they will remain upon death if equipped – normally, this costs 5 records, and the chests are usually 7. The one thing the game’s lacking that would both improve player satisfaction and monetization would be a revive feature: I know I would spend some records to continue some of my runs.
Soul Fjord dreams big, with its groovy theme and unique idea mixture, it just doesn’t quite pay off. It’s a free download for Ouya owners, and is worth at least that, but it may prove to be more frustrating than groovy.
As of now, there’s been one really big reason to own an Ouya: Towerfall. With Towerfall: Ascension about to release on PC and later on PS4, that one big reason is about to go away, but Ouya’s got another big exclusive in the pipeline, now with a confirmed date: Soul Fjord.
Created by Kim Swift, one of the key minds behind Portal, this rhythm-based action game based on 70’s funk and Norse mythology releases exclusively for Ouya on January 28th. We’ll dig our Ouyas out of storage for that one, surely.
IGN reports that Airtight Games and Portal creator Kim Switch have announced that their upcoming game, Soul Fjord, will be exclusive to the Ouya console. Soul Fjord is a rhythm-based dungeon crawler that is set in a fantasy universe, mixing Norse mythology with ’70s funk and soul. Check out the full article to find out more about Soul Fjord and what they have to say about Disco Wizards. Sounds fun to me!