Fractured Soul will likely give 3DS players anxiety, as it pays homage to all those punishing NES games from the 80s and 90s. What we have is a soulless but somewhat entertaining side-scrolling adventure with a unique twist, one that brings both the top and bottom screens into the equation. Not a terrible effort per se, but a punishing checkpoint system and lifeless presentation, in addition to a somewhat shocking $11.99 price tag, make it a tough sell.
As the story goes, the robotic hero gets stranded on some outpost swarming with enemies. The only way to survive is to shift parallel dimensions, and this is where the developers took advantage of 3DS. You'll notice that each level appears on the two screens, but with slight variations. The scene on top, for instance, may include a couple platforms absent from the scene on the bottom. Conversely, the touchscreen may have a ladder or laser wall.
That said, the goal is to press the right bumper to switch between two characters, one on each screen, to navigate your way to the end of a particular level. Switching to the top screen will let you avoid enemies below, while double jumping proves especially useful, providing you perform a mid-air swap. This also means that, at times, you must watch both screens simultaneously, or simply make a leap in good faith.
The creators put an emphasis on speed runs, but we didn't care much for breezing through stages, as the gameplay feels more methodical. Not only that, but it's hard to avoid taking damage while on the move, especially when the character cannot shoot diagonally, forcing us to jump and fire at the same time. Also, the conspicuous lack of checkpoints forces players to restart from the beginning of a level.
Fractured Soul's biggest issue, however, is the obvious lack of personality. We never felt attached to the game's protagonist, and the barebones presentation puts this title well behind the classic hits it seemingly emulates, namely Mega Man and Metroid. As for the cost, $12 is a lot of money for a downloadable 3DS game, especially one that doesn't necessarily put its best foot forward.
With this in mind, we don't hate Fractured Soul, but considering the higher profile games on the eShop, this one may only appeal to the more hardcore players.
What's Hot: Intriguing concept, tight platform controls, somewhat diverse collection of stages.
What's Not: Restarting levels from the beginning, cheap deaths, little to no personality, retails for $11.99, doesn't make use of glasses free 3D.