Mega Man meets Ikaruga in this innovative dual-screen game.
Fractured Soul stars Jake, a man in a space suit who is split between two alternate realities. Each reality is represented on one of the DS's screens. Players can switch between the two screens at will as they make their way through levels. While the levels on each screen are similar, differences will force players between them. A wall might appear in one screen, but not the other, or a platform might only exist on the top screen, for instance. This turns what might otherwise be a simple action game into a title with a great mix of fun, challenge, and inventiveness.
The game includes both Mega Man-style platforming and shoot-em-up levels. The developer was influenced by Treasure shooter Ikaruga, even for the platforming levels, and it's readily apparent. In Ikaruga, players could switch polarity of their ship at will to absorb enemy fire matching their polarity. Here, the dynamic feels similar, though it's a little trickier having to shift focus to the other screen.
Fractured Sould features a number of environments, each which changes the dynamics of the second screen. While the initial levels have the same properties on both screens, later levels change the balance. For instance, one screen may be a fiery furnace where the player can only survive for a short time. Gravity might be flipped. Or one side may be flooded, altering jumping physics.
Because of the asymmetry, it may take a little getting used to switching between the screens. The game apparently went through heavy focus testing to get the difficulty balance right, but planning and quick thinking is required for success, and mastering the gameplay is rewarding.
Fractured Soul is also geared for speed runs, and once players get the main game down, it should be a good challenge to see how fast they can flip from screen to screen in a race to the finish. There are also bonus items positioned to entice people into dangerous, hard-to-reach places.
Fractured Soul makes excellent use of the dual screens, resulting in an innovative and fun retro-styled action game. There's just one little problem. Except for Australia, where N3V has taken the reigns, the game still needs a publisher. I hope they can find one soon; more people should have the opportunity to play this game.