I wanted to talk a bit more about SoulSet but I’ve decided to keep my reviews spoiler free, so here’s another post that tells a lot more about the characters and plot. With the plot of this game it’s quite impossible to stay vague about certain reveals, so heavy spoilers ahead.
To recap the story a bit (though I wont go through all the events in this post):
In the beginning we see a young Mariko escaping her burning manor with a deadly injured dragon companion. She meets Feathor, a necromancer, that makes a deal about fusing the dragon’s spirit into Mariko in exchange of some dragon’s blood.
After this prologue, Mariko wakes up in a cellar, not remembering anything besides the first encounter with Feathor. She meets a few other people and is told that they are in a mansion surrounded by a magical barrier, and everyone has lost their memories.
Mariko is obviously older than she was in her only memory. And despite her mansion been burned down in that memory, it seems she is currently in the very same building. So what is actually going on? Is everyone – anyone – speaking the truth?
I’ll go through the routes in the order I played them.
I started with the “first” route (from left to right) because it was first and I like red heads. Of course this was a route with only bad endings then, bah. Though the game expects you to play most of the bad endings first anyway.
Marco is a young man, maybe even just a boy, who seems quite confident and knowleadgeable (and flirty) for his age. It doesn’t take long for him to reveal that he is actually much older than he looks.
The younger girls in the game are 19 or something, so all the romance options in the game are adults, and I definitely prefer so. I mean, it can still easily feel a bit inappropriate to romance someone in a body of a teenager or romance those 19 year olds with characters that are actually senior citizens in youthful bodies (getting to this later on), but to me it’s still very different than actually wooing 15 year olds or even adults whose sprites looks like they are really only 10.
Anyway, Marco is very cute and seems to know a lot more than he’s letting on, but the mystery stays very much a mystery in his route. No matter what she does, Mariko will end up crumbling to pieces by a curse.
For my next character I picked Shira. Initially I wasn’t really interested in her princess looks, but the actual game play revealed that she had a fun personality which made me like her rather quickly. The game also hinted in the direction of her most likely not being a cis woman, so I was eager to see what this route had to offer.
Shira’s route is a rather cute one – there really isn’t anything disturbing in this route apart from the gruesome bad endings of course (where suddenly a succubus runs rampant killing people). Shira is a snarky but quite sweet and trustworthy person.
When things are getting intimate she will reveal that she actually has “boy parts” after all. The story doesn’t dive terribly deep into her gender indentity, but gathering from what she tells Mariko, it seems she is not exactly a trans woman, more likely she is a demi girl or some other non-binary transfeminine type.
I personally think the whole gender bending plot is handled pretty well. It’s meant to be just a part of Shira, not defining her completely, or going in to preaching mode (which is not necessarily a bad thing, but I really wouldn’t see it fitting this game). She just is what she is and the player can be just fine with it.
I’m not sure what would happen if the player chooses the less accepting dialogue options with her, I guess they will probably just result in the normal ending instead of the good one. (Although I definitely wouldn’t be against some karmic death after being mean to someone like Shira.)
Shira’s bad ending revealed that there’s something wrong with Apris, so I picked it next. Not that I wouldn’t otherwise, I prefer taking the male routes and I usually like the silent types. Apris is kind of grumpy though, not just silent. He directly warns you to stay away from him. The bags under his eyes are a funny addition, though obviously he is still very handsome.
It doesn’t take terribly long for Apris to admit that he is actually possessed by a demon. So, it’s the weird succubus from Shira’s route? Yes, it is. The poor guy has been stuck with the demon for most of his life, and he doesn’t want to sleep, because she will gain control then.
This is a rather adult route with lots of violence and sex. Mariko wants to help Apris, but if the relationship isn’t strong enough, she will blab the whole demon thing to Marco, who will want to outright kill Apris. Where’s the nice boy now? Aaand, it’s possible for the player to be completely in on this plot. All this will result in several bad endings with people being ripped apart, but the clue from Shira’s route also gives the player an option to enter the demon’s own route. It’s not exactly a romance route, though the succubus does try very hard to get into Mariko’s pants.
If the player has good enough relationship with Apris, she decides to help him on her own – or actually with the help of Yvonne’s weird cat familiar. She will enter Apris’ dreams to keep the demon busy while Apris can rest. The dream will end up in some kinky sex with the demon (can be skipped if preferred so) with the possibility of having the demon stay in Apris’ hot body. Not a hard choice there.
After the kinky dreams it’s possible to continue kinky sex with Apris himself. Despite the constant sexing up, this route is actually pretty sweet too. You get to help Apris and he seems very happy about being with you. Apris has had to endure a lot, and this is one of those routes that will make you feel bad for choosing something else after it. Why am I not helping him? Though luckily in this game some other routes will include at least plans to help Apris get rid of the demon.
Yvonne is a nice and unfortunately also quite boring girl. She’s kind and that’s about it. She has some magic abilities and a strange cat familiar but those are hardly even addressed in the game. To me it seemed Yvonne’s route is only meant to be a shortcut towards Feathor’s route and sadly it shows. Mostly I just felt pity towards her.
So the elusive Feathor from Mariko’s past pops up in this route, and he seems to be (still) kind of a dick. He will actually kill Mariko with his own hands just to spite Marco. There’s an interesting dynamic there, that really leaves the player guessing. Exactly, who is Marco in this.
Feathor at least can be survived but not really romanced through this route. It is revealed that Mariko and Feathor have been a thing – for decades, staying young by magic. Not that it’s been a sweet thing, more of a very destructive relationship. So basically this means that the granpa Feathor and grandma Mariko are kind of preying on the 20-year-old characters. I’m not quite sure how I should feel about it.
This route also finally addresses the whole “there’s a dragon soul inside of Mariko” issue that has been almost completely forgotten after the prologue. It is actually quite a neat reveal. The player is the dragon soul, picking the choices instead of Mariko herself. This explains why sometimes Mariko fights against the player choice and end up doing whatever she wants. Too bad this bit of info is hidden in this single route with such a small portion of it too.
Shirr obviously is another character hiding things. Okay, so basically everyone was hiding something (except maybe for Yvonne who blurts out her returning memories very fast) but it seemed that Marco and Shirr had some real insight to what the hell is actually going on. Shirr seems kind of weak and shy but is it an act?
She’s injured and it’s revealed that the demon showing on the other side of the barrier attacked her. Soon enough it is revealed that she is Shira’s sister (which was already hinted on on Shira’s route) and she never even had her memories taken. She was Feathor’s agent all along. And for some reason she even has a crush on that dirtbag.
To me the whole dom/sub thing with Shirr was really iffy. It seemed that she was already kind of abused by Feathor and it didn’t sit right with me for Mariko to go all dominatrix on her. She’s young, exploited and injured. Somewhat unfortunately Shirr’s romance route was something that the player had to go trough in order to unlock the hidden ending from the True route. But I guess that in a way romancing Shirr would mean saving her from Feathor, at least.
I think it was in this route (or it might have been Yvonne’s, it’s been a while now) that the player also learns that the demon stalking people outside the barrier is a descendant of Mariko, and supposedly Feathor was supposed to marry her. It’s all very weird and messed up with different timelines and realities and the unhealthy relationship between Feathor and Mariko. Apparently somewhere in this multiverse Mariko also gave birth to a baby she named Marco.
After collecting all the red clues, the true route became available. Red was Marco’s colour, so I was very much expecting these results. This route finally started to “bleed reality”, meaning blending some events from other routes into this reality, tying all the experienced routes together.
This route is kind of funny how most of people just take up and leave the mansion, and that’s it. So much of the weird and complicated stuff from earlier routes seem so redundant now.
The player finally gets to have a real heart to heart with Marco. Who is he then? Mariko’s or Feathor’s son? Nope, he is actually Feathor himself, just another version. This is something I did speculate, though I hadn’t strongly formed an opinion towards anything.
The red hair was a glamour – sniff. While Feathor had been jumping around the different timelines, he managed to accidently duplicate himself as a younger version. The younger Marco is the same person but then again he is not. He’s not as cynical and selfish as “the original” Feathor.
So, I’m definitely relieved that the “son Marco deal” was a red herring, considering the sparks of romance that had been in the air. So there might not be incest but Feathor did seem to be interested in some threesome selfcest at least… Well, he definitely is a character. He also seems to really enjoy torturing the other version of himself.
At this point it is Mariko’s choice. She can blow off both of Feathors and decide to be a super necromancer by herself. Or she can choose to be with Feathor in one of his forms. I seriously cannot fathom why on earth anyone would choose to be with the dick Feathor, but Mariko’s kind of twisted herself, so I guess that option can be found plausible. The Marco version is a clear improvement to his personality, and he’s the one I could possibly forgive.
There’s also the hidden ending, which is a threesome with Mariko, Marco and Shira. I find it rather unbelievable that Feathor’s sexual relations would have never strayed from cis women, but okay, maybe that’s not the main point of this ending. These three are kind of cute together and considering the twisted history between Mariko and Feathor, this romance seems a lot sweeter than what Mariko and Feathor originally had. Though I still feel that Shira could probably do better with romantic partners. But I guess it’s not an overall bad choice to go for immortality and adventures with a couple of strong necromancers.