As I traversed the area around me, I noticed a tick that formed in me, causing my mind to wander. It was no longer about getting out of here alive, I was suddenly more concerned with whether or not I carried an even number of items or not. My Obsessive Compulsive mindset had struck, and I could not concentrate on the task at hand till I found out whether or not the items I held were the right amount. Soulblight’s “Taint” system was in full effect, and it does wonders for selling the pure role-playing aspect lost in many other RPGs.
Developed by the Polish studio My Next Games, Soulblight is a top down, procedurally generated RPG game for PC. The Temple is a now forsaken place holding the secrets of forgotten machinery. At the heart of a magical anomaly is a tree, shrouded in a mystical liquid, which calls to the powerful with visions of grandeur. The game asks: “Do you dare see its power? Do you wish to drink from the Soulblight?”
The developer presents the game as a throwback to the literal meaning of the RPG, and based on the effects of the Taint system, the game’s core mechanic which influences everything, it’s not hard to start actually role-playing while you traverse The Temple. In my playthrough I had obsessive compulsion, which gave me a debuff if I held an odd number of items or I went too long between checking items and artifacts around me. This tied into my gameplay neatly, and I had to tailor my experience around this mindset. Do I keep this item and take the debuff, or do I ditch it to retain an even number? Do I go over here to inspect something, knowing full well that chest might be trapped, or take the debuff? Those choices matter.
The Taint system ties directly into effectiveness in combat. If someone had a disorder where they couldn’t get past having a certain number of items on them, then they might be distracted when doing a hard task, such as fending off a monster. These traits are the main source of your strength. As you fulfill your Taint system quirks, you gain effectiveness with your weapon. Weapon types also play a role, and learning how and when to use a certain type is important. Weapons like greatswords are incredibly effective at range, but leave you vulnerable close up. Conversely, the club I used was incredible closer, but not too close. Finding that sweet spot is important, especially if you’re already dealing with the effects of the Taint trait you possess.
It’s interesting to see in play as well. It was one of the few times where I felt I was truly “role-playing” a character and not just doing things for the possible reward. It was freeing in a way, and really drew me into the PAX West demo.
Soulblight is currently on greenlit on Steam, though no official release has been given just yet.