Overview – developed by Zoo Corporation and published by eastasiasoft, Beat Souls is an intense rhythm action title with an anime edge. As the Shrine Maiden Mikoto, battle the Yokai through dance to put them to rest, by dodging hazards and collecting the Beat Souls. This title is available for Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4/5 and the Xbox family of systems, with links to each version at the bottom of this review.
Disclaimer: before I get into the review, I would like to thank eastasiasoft for providing the copy of Beat Souls that was used for this piece. The provision of this software has not influenced the contents of this review, all thoughts and opinions contained within are my own.
Now with the introductions out of the way, let’s get into the review. I will be skipping the story segment and be moving directly into the gameplay, as there is little in terms of plot to discuss.
Gameplay – Beat Souls is a fast paced rhythm action title, where the player must dodge hazards and collect the Beat Souls on screen to score points. During each stage, the track scrolls with the hazards and beats running down. The player must move left and right, using her Otomo souls to collect the beats on screen by moving Mikoto or the Otomo themselves. Mikoto has a set number of lives that will be reduced by one if she makes contact with a hazard or beat, ending the stage if she runs out of life.
Collecting the beats will add to a combo meter on screen, with each beat adding up and increasing a ranking meter on screen as well as the score. There is also a fever meter that will fill up with each beat collected, activating a special fever state when the bar is filled to a specific point and a mark on track is crossed. Fever increases the score multiplier and lasts until the end mark is reached, taking damage before fever is activated will reduce the meter, potentially preventing it from activating.
When the stage ends, a ranking based on the performance will be provided, ranging from poor to excellent. Alongside the rankings are two challenges per song, first is the no damage achievement from making it through the stage without losing a life. The second is a full combo achievement, which can be earned by hitting every beat without missing or taking damage for the entire song. These are extra bonus challenges for the play to attempt.
As the player progresses through the game, new songs will be unlocked with one of three characters, each having their own unique look and music style. The songs will vary in speed, with a BPM on screen to give an idea of how fast the song will be. The songs will also have a difficulty attached to them with a second, harder version of each song that is unlocked after completing the first version of the song. This doubles the song variants to play from 45 to a total of 90.
The songs will become more complex and difficult as they progress, with the addition of more complicated patterns and the need to switch between yellow and blue beats. With the tougher challenges for the hard variants of each song that push the player, with each challenge increasing in complexity when it comes to the tougher tracks. The tougher tracks are beatable, but there is a need to practice to perfect each song and clear bonus challenges.
There is a level system also included in this release, with each cleared stage giving experience that levels up the player, unlocking stages in the special hell mode at specific milestones. The infinite mode also has an online ranking where players can challenge others, with the highest score being added to the worldwide rankings. As well as the level system, there is an achievement system where players can unlock new characters, each with their own unique skills that can be used in stages.
The achievements that can be unlocked include collecting beats, clearing songs on hard and reaching specific levels, which don’t add much in terms of gameplay but add value to the player. These extra achievements and the infinite mode add to the replay value, giving players more incentive to continue playing the game after clearing the songs.
Now with the gameplay covered, I will be moving onto the other aspects of this game, starting with the controls.
Controls – the controls for this release are very simple, with the thumbstick and d-pad being used to move the player left and right. The face buttons are used to jump hazards and to switch the color of the Otomo souls, with the shoulder buttons moving the Otomo to the left and right. These controls are comfortable and feel right when played in handheld and/or docked mode. The game also plays well when using a pro controller or Joy-Cons, with zero lag or input issues when playing the game.
Difficulty – there is a gradual difficulty curve with this title, where the songs will have simple patterns that are relatively easy to get full combo scores. The difficulty does increase dramatically over time, making it very tough to score perfect runs of each song, but the characters that can be unlocked and their skills can make it easier. Practice is an important part of the experience, in order to score maximum points in the standard songs and to climb the leaderboards in hell mode.
Presentation – there is a very distinct visual style for this release, with an anime art style that has a neon cyberpunk flair to it. The environments and character designs have a cutesy design to them, with bold elements and thematic designs that fit each character. The soundtrack for this title has a lot of variety to it, with rock styled tracks that contrast well with synth based instrumentals. Some tracks are separated into short and long versions, extending some tracks to add a little variety to some compostions.
Final Thoughts – I had a good time with this release since I enjoy rhythm action titles. This title has its own distinct style to it and makes it a unique experience, with the cute neon anime art style and gameplay mechanics. I can happily recommend it to fans of rhythm action games, as there is a lot of content and challenge on offer for everyone who enjoys the genre. This is a complete package, with the variety of music tracks, achievements and the ranking mode included for worldwide competition.
In the end, I give Beat Souls a final score of 5/5. This title is the complete package for modern rhythm action fans, with a distinct art style, a good variety of music tracks, fun gameplay mechanics and an achievement/ranking system that is rewarding for players to keep playing. If you want to check this title out for yourself, links to each version will be below.
Link to Nintendo Switch version (HERE)
Link to PlayStation version (HERE)
Link to Xbox version (HERE)