SoulSet

Score: 9.0
2016

This somewhat short visual novel has an interesting mystery to be solved with a diverse group of characters. The protagonist Mariko wakes up in a basement of a mansion, with most of her memories gone. There are several other people present too, but everyone seems to be hiding something. A magical barrier surrounds the mansion and the group of people have no choice other than work together in order to get out.

Amnesia plot is of course terribly overused in visual novels but SoulSet happens in a fantasy world, so fiddling with memories doesn’t really seem unbelievable at all. The real question in the game is if everyone really lost their memories, and if/when they get some of them back, are they being upfront about them.

The game is a mystery thriller, it’s doesn’t have many horror elements and mostly it’s not scary at all. The bad endings especially have some descriptions of gruesome deaths in them, but that’s about it.

SoulSet has a nice set of characters, most of them are interesting, vivid and even likable. They’re not just basic cliché stereotypes. The protagonist Mariko is also refreshingly different from typical otome leads. She’s rather flirty and assertive, so most of the time it really feels like the player is controlling the game and things aren’t just happening randomly.

Romancing makes up a significant portion of the game, though it is not forced on the player. Mariko is usually the one who advances the relationships, so player has a pretty good control over the romances. The game has a rather short time line, so some of the romances seem quite rushed, but considering Mariko isn’t exactly a prude, they don’t really seem unplausible. While the game has no explicit CGs or detailed sexual descriptions, there is some implied sex and tons of innuendo.

While the romances aren’t really compulsory (though of course some of them are if one wants to see all the endings), SoulSet requires the player to go through many of the bad endings (one specific for each character), in order to pick up clues that will enable the player to progress towards some of the normal or good endings. The bad endings are pretty fun though, and they do indeed reveal a lot about the bigger mystery.

There are a couple of hidden extra character routes inside the normal routes, and after collecting all the “red clues”, there’s a possibility for the “true” route with 4 different endings. So while a single playthrough of SoulSet is not terribly long, there are a lot of routes to go through. I like how the different routes seem to have some kind of connections to each other. What’s especially fun in the game is that some of the things that don’t seem to make sense – or at least any difference – are explained later on.

Like the romances, the endings themselves are a bit abrupt, but I wouldn’t call them unsatifying. There is no voice acting and the CGs are quite sparse with somewhat clashing art style to the rather beautiful sprites, but all the negatives of the game are really quite minor. I would recommend the game quite widely to any VN players. Steam has a free demo, which one should try at the least.

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