Every once in a while, someone tries for greatness beyond the scope of their reality. For the main character of Soul Gambler, Faust, that was never the plan. Faust is just like every one of you: went to school, excelled at his field, got a reasonable job in a boring position. Paid well enough to have a good life. But Faust was bored to tears. That is, until today. Until the day where you meet him. That is the day he learns how to sell his soul.
Faust is the story about a man who sells his soul to get everything he ever wanted. Soul Gambler is a modern retelling of Goethe’s words. It would be
easy boring as fuck for me to launch into a comparison between the two that might inevitably end with some shallow “the book was better” statements. Honestly, I have never fucking read Faust. Probably a lengthy and verbose masterwork of an ancient people that is difficult to relate to and context whose context and references are enormously difficult to fully accommodate. This is why I love video games. We’ve moved past the lives and the times of those people for it to be fully applicable to us here. What we need is a translation between our language and theirs. Goethe was a German writer and Faust is a story from German legends but it is not the German I am referring to. We need a contextual translation of Faust so that we can use it, just as those readers of its day used it, to measure ourselves and consider who we are in a new light. Soul Gambler is an example of that attempt. Taking these old stories and making them into something we can feel and which we can use to relate to our ancestors’ struggles. And now, some titties.
I am not sexist, I just needed something to break the preachy rant. Faust really is every man in this game, though. At least every modern man. We’ve all gone to school or had some kind of training. Maybe we didn’t all graduate at the top of our class, but the majority of us ended up at the “good enough” category of workplaces, and less at the ones they advertise on the fucking brochure. We’ve all felt the grinding tedium of everyday monotony, and for the British, that’s ok. For the rest of us, we need some fucking flare, some life, some action. So Faust gets to meet this old gypsy woman that cuts him with a fucking dagger. This enables Faust to slice off portions of soul life a loaf of goddamn bread reserved for his very own private dream sandwiches. He uses these metaphorical sandwiches to mold his reality and make whatever he wants happen. For 10% soul, you can find your own soul mate! For 30% you can be strong and sexy as an athlete! It gets a little obnoxious as every time you look into something with a reflection, his reflection appears and tries to convince him to chop off pieces of soul to buy a new pair of sneakers or something.
The gameplay in this is similar to pretty much every fucking Final Fantasy and Bayonetta in that it really requires is one button. Where it differs is that you have to select with the mouse, so it requires a little more effort. But that is ok. This is about the story, the characters and it is really not that long. There are also none of those pesky game obstacles to slow you down, so I got through this whole game in about 1.5 hours. Granted, the more observant have already called my bullshit because they located the stats at the bottom of the page. Let me make that bigger for you ; ).
So there are some RPG elements in this game: Health, Manipulation, Intelligence and Charism(a). These stats actually have an effect in-game as well. If you have high manipulation, you can use your jedi powers to make people tell you things you want to know. High intelligence lets you out think stupid people. High Charism(a) lets you charm your way out of some shit. Overall you can look at these as chat modifiers. You will generally end up in the same place every time, but these stats let you choose some new boxes or open new opportunities through discussions. Another stat that will appear in the lower left corner of your screen is your soul. It shows you, in percentage form, how much of your soul you still have left. The more the better, trust me. Without revealing too much you have am epic showdown at the end, and how you choose to spend your soul decides how you do in the epic showdown. Even for those with no concept of the source material, it should go without saying that being frivolous with your soul makes this game end badly for Faust.
One thing that really got me in this game was the terrible use of English, but the developer of this game is based in Brazil and has an option for English on the main site, so they don’t English too well. More’s the better, honestly. What was supposed to be a dark and mysterious tale turned into a quirky dark comedy about a guy with a tattoo on his liver, or something. There was also some serious gypsy magic in this one, too. This is a good game for the experience. It really can’t even be called a game, either. It’s an interactive experience. These guys call it a PlayComics game, but it’s an interactive experience. And it is well done, too. Despite the broken English, the dialogue flowed together really well, which is an accomplishment considering this is the equivalent of a “choose your own adventure” novel. It really highlights why games can’t really give you total freedom because every last step outside the boundaries has to be programmed in. This game takes what equates to a dizzying tangle of dialogue possibilities and brings them all back to the same storyline points elegantly. The music is also enjoyable in a cafe, but if you are into that sort of thing, you can download it, too. The best part about this game is that it is only 4.99$ on Steam. 6.99$ with art and soundtrack. If that hulking second dollar figure is too daunting for you, there is always the option to get the DLC later, which includes the music and art.
Of all the things that bother me about this game, nothing frustrates me more than the possibility that it will be passed off as just another indie game on Steam. This game has a lot more to offer the standard gamer than just art and relation to a piece of literature. It has a soul of its own that it tries to grant you in the process of playing. It makes you think about things and weigh yourself in a new light, and that is the purpose of art. To affect you deeply enough that you carry a piece of it with you. I just want to know why the woman that is your soul mate carves the symbol of chaos into your chest to protect you. Fucking whatever, I don’t know what kind of love-pain rituals Europeans are into these days.
Huzzah! This is my 50th article! Time to Celebrate with a giveaway! I will be linking this sentence to the details shortly. Stay tuned!