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Games with SOUL

SomaSpice

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Hey agora bros. Let's talk about games with soul, at least those of which you consider to embody that trait. Preferably, let's keep it to games with a small budget and development theme, but if you consider that a project from a larger studio just oozes soul, say something like Yakuza, No More Heroes, or Drakengard, that's perfectly fine.

Here's one of my picks:

The Friends of Ringo Ishikawa:

H2x1_NSwitchDS_TheFriendsOfRingoIshikawa_image1600w.jpg


A game made by a 30-something ruski with a passion for martial arts and delinquent manga. A passion project above all, developed through years and several iterations until it found its proper voice. It was made on basically no budget, stringing together whatever resources the dev could find. And it turned out amazing despite its limitations. The sprites were made by the dev's boomer dad, the martial art moves were referenced from pictures of the dev performing them, and the soundtrack is an extemely well selected array of royalty free music. Even with these constraints the sublime direction and taste of the developer managed to stitch together a coherent atmosphere and tone for the game.

The gameplay is beat-em up style inspired by river city ransom combined with an open world and some simulation aspects. Besides fighting and progressing the story you need to take care of the protagonist's needs, social life, training, and schoolwork.

The main attractive of it, in my opinion, is that it paints a vivid vignette of the turning point in a man's life where he must conciously abandon his youth. Friends drift away, opportunities and circumstances twist people's lives onto strange directions, and as much as someone may struggle against or try to avoid reality, the comforts of known life have to be dropped at some point and one must step onto the unknown. Even when relying on others for support, the burden of living must be carried alone.


 

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shinobu

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What is soul anyway? Clearly mainstream triple A games don't usually have it, and for everything else we just call it soul if it has some set of qualities we like and a certain type of aesthetic, but it varies too much between each person. Also, the time in your life when you play it can influence your judgement of it.

I don't know if it's about a certain "something" that seeps through the art, music and/or mechanics, independent of its quality, or if it is about the integration of imperfect parts into something good. Maybe it's just a synonym for obscure, since a lot of people love finding hidden gems. Anyway, some of my picks would be
  • YU-NO
  • Yume Nikki
  • LSD dream emulator
  • Eastern Mind: The Lost Souls of Tong Nou
  • The Touhou series


A possible answer hit me as I pressed the post button. It's individuality, isn't it? When a game sets itself apart from a world of ultra-polished clones, it finally has that originality that you haven't felt when playing most of its contemporaries. Maybe. Or maybe it's just when game good and not bad.
 
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SomaSpice

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It's individuality, isn't it?
Yeah pretty much. As I understand it, when people say something has soul it means that something has a unique creative identity which is distinguishable and well executed.
 
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Angelo

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Dependes, for me Super Mario Galaxy 1 is a very soulful game. Other examples:
-Persona 3
-MGS3
-Re4
-Bayonetta
-The binding of isaac
-Sonic Mania
I'm willing to bet that everyone who's played Mario Galaxy 1 and 2 would agree that 1 had more soul, whereas 2 seemed to be lacking in something despite being a beautiful game with a great soundtrack.

For me, a game has to be immersive and impress some kind of profound feeling on you to have soul, but I don't consider the feeling of nostalgia as a marker for soul, since anything you did at 14-16 will be viewed through a nostalgic lens, regardless of its quality.

Games with SOUL:
Kirby Superstar Ultra
Earthbound
Final Fantasy 9
Cave Story
Don't Starve
 
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monk

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hard agree with the binding of isaac. for me, kingdom hearts 1, 2, and 358/2 are filled with soul, individuality or whatever you wanna call it. i haven't played other games in the franchise but, from my experience, those are emotionally crafted works of art. (definitely not nostalgia) and now i'm off to check out the friends of ringo ishikawa
 
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LincolnJames

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God of Thunder from 1993/94 was my favorite game as a kid. Back then it was shareware and came on a 3.5" floppy disk. Today it can be found for free on Steam. (Big thanks to the dev for not trying to squeeze a few bucks out of people unlike the majority of old studios.) I'm not sure it has soul in the way OP defines it but it certainly captivated me in my single digit years and provides a lot of nostalgic fun today.

64061.jpg
 
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SpheralBloom

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Okay so I haven't finished it yet, but there's this game called The Longing that I've been really into. It's based off of a Kyffhäuser folktale or something.

1652761179814.png
1652765806063.png


The concept is really cool. Basically, the king is asleep for the entire game, and tasks you to wake him up after 400 real-life days have passed. The timer at the top is always counting down, even after you shut the game off. After that, the game just opens up. You can explore, decorate your room, find cool landmarks, get high on shrooms, etc. There's no goal other than waking up the king, so everything you do up until that point is up to you.
A lot of this game is about patience. You walk, draw, mine, and open doors very slowly. Some paths will even be inaccessible until a certain amount of time has passed. It all feels so refreshingly unique. The music feels pretty somber, which really sells that mysterious and lonely atmosphere. The art style is also rad. It gives off old storybook vibes.
More people should definitely try out this game. You'll need patience, sure, but the sense of discovery makes it worth it.
 
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Jessica3cho

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moon-hunters-ps-vita-ps4-2016.jpg

View: https://store.steampowered.com/app/320040/Moon_Hunters/


I absolutely love the game Moon Hunters and have since its release. From the art, to the music, to the story, to the gameplay, I think this game embodies what one might call 'Soul'.
Its just too bad the development seems to be on halt. I heard its getting a Switch release, but its still been years since any major release and consoles still aren't caught up with the last major PC release...

Edit: I guess the Switch release came out a while ago. Unfortunate.
 
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Jorm

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One game i think is really soulfull is the game Bad North by Raw Fury. It's a really small rts rouglike game (you can probably finish it in less than 1h), but i think it really nails the concept and soul of the islands in the north sea and the british isles. You try to stop an viking invasion throughout several islands that gets harder and harder.
It gives you the feeling of that each island has history, and the ambiance of a nervous lonlines it creates at the beginning of each level is just great.
The artstyle is a sort of minimalist, clean and cartoony style. The characters all look anxious in a way, like they know what theyre getting themself into. The art and design is made by the same guy that made townscaper (says a lot about the style and aesthetics of the game).
1652804557522.png

The only bad thing about the game is these guys. They can shoot themselves with their own bows.
1652803497324.png
 
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Blockhead

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Hey agora bros. Let's talk about games with soul, at least those of which you consider to embody that trait. Preferably, let's keep it to games with a small budget and development theme, but if you consider that a project from a larger studio just oozes soul, say something like Yakuza, No More Heroes, or Drakengard, that's perfectly fine.

Here's one of my picks:

The Friends of Ringo Ishikawa:

View attachment 28354

A game made by a 30-something ruski with a passion for martial arts and delinquent manga. A passion project above all, developed through years and several iterations until it found its proper voice. It was made on basically no budget, stringing together whatever resources the dev could find. And it turned out amazing despite its limitations. The sprites were made by the dev's boomer dad, the martial art moves were referenced from pictures of the dev performing them, and the soundtrack is an extemely well selected array of royalty free music. Even with these constraints the sublime direction and taste of the developer managed to stitch together a coherent atmosphere and tone for the game.

The gameplay is beat-em up style inspired by river city ransom combined with an open world and some simulation aspects. Besides fighting and progressing the story you need to take care of the protagonist's needs, social life, training, and schoolwork.

The main attractive of it, in my opinion, is that it paints a vivid vignette of the turning point in a man's life where he must conciously abandon his youth. Friends drift away, opportunities and circumstances twist people's lives onto strange directions, and as much as someone may struggle against or try to avoid reality, the comforts of known life have to be dropped at some point and one must step onto the unknown. Even when relying on others for support, the burden of living must be carried alone.


I feel like this is the perfect example of a game with soul. I feel like Ringo isn't a perfect game by any means (the objective is unclear, there are stats that exist that are hard to understand exactly how they affect the game, etc.) but it's a game that puts forward emotions through the routine of its gameplay. Soul I think also comes from having gameplay elements that allow you to just have leisure in a world that is not your own sometimes, which is something that I think a lot of AAA game studios miss out on.
 

Ataxtia

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I guess something like world of horror really gives me the look of a game with some passion. Yeah, the dev cycle is hell for the game, but it's such a lovely title with some cool pixel art. Well, not really pixel art, the dude does all of the art in Microsoft paint. still looks amazing though
1652848919025.png


It just really feels like a passion project for the dev, a love letter to classic Japanese horror, the feeling of being a powerless student looking into supernatural things that you really shouldn't be looking into.
 

JihyoParkXX

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- dark souls 3
- soulcaliber
- pokemon soulsilver
- bleach heat the soul 7

I might be messing around but in all seriousness I do believe these games have SOVL.
 
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Dinny

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Sky: Children of the Light might be as simplistic as they come in terms of gameplay and story, but damn if it doesn't have some of the most immaculate vibes I've seen from a game in quite some time. Flight controls smooth as butter, soaring through vast, colorful dreamscapes filled with pitch-perfect sound design and backed by one of the loveliest OSTs I've heard. It's made by the same group that made Journey, so that explains everything.
 

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