• Add Review
  • Subscribe
  • Nominate
  • Submit Media
  • RSS


Soma Spirits is a traditional RPG modeled after the Dragon quest series, created by SgtMettool in RPG Maker VX Ace. The game focuses on simple puzzles using a creative 'mirror world' mechanic and has multiple endings. It was voted RMN's Game of the Year for 2016.

Long ago, the world of Soma was divided into two halves after a devastating war. One half became known as the World of Joy, an exuberant land of free-wheeling chaos where worries are non-existent, protected by a cheerful and kind spirit named Heart. The other half became known as the World of Sorrow, where people are crushed under the weight of obligation and responsibility, protected by a somber but dutiful spirit named Soul.

Heart and Soul are brothers, and although they couldn't be less alike, they have a mutual respect for one another, and seek each other's aid when it becomes clear that Soma is slipping out of balance. Two powerful spirits, Form and Dissonance, warn Heart and Soul that only one side can survive and the other must be eliminated. Form commands them to purge the world of all Sorrow, while Dissonance warns them that a World of only Joy will be chaos and Sorrow must prevail. Heart and Soul must decide which of the two can be trusted as they journey across Soma helping those whose hearts are out of balance.

For Heart, every day is the best day ever.

The game plays out in a series of dungeon-crawler segments broken up periodically by short cutscenes. This is where the game's primary mechanic comes into play; the player navigates the world of Soma by traversing between the world of Sorrow and the world of Joy, which are nearly identical in structure but have some important differences. Passages that exist in one world might not exist in the other, and switches can affect things in both worlds. This template is paired with some simple puzzle-solving mechanics to create a new challenge in each dungeon, providing some welcome innovation to the traditional RPG puzzle mechanics.

Which world you are currently in also affects the capabilities of your two party members, Heart and Soul. While in the world of Joy, Heart becomes dominant, and he gains access to a variety of potent magical offensive abilities while Soul has access only to support abilities such as healing and buffing. In the World of Sorrow, the opposite is true and Soul is dominant. As a general rule, creatures in the world of Sorrow are more dangerous, but Heart and Soul have access to different elemental attacks and learning the weaknesses of the monsters in each locale can influence in which world you have the greatest advantage over enemies.

Encounters are non-random, though somewhat difficult to avoid, and the game doesn't require much if any grinding to succeed. The difficulty curve is fairly low, healing items are abundant and cheap, and your characters always warn you when a difficult fight is ahead, meaning the game is pretty breezy but satisfying to play. Rather than coming from obnoxiously powerful enemies, most of the game's challenge comes from managing the abilities of your two party members and understanding the strengths and limitations you have in each world.

At the end of each dungeon locale you will be confronted with a troubled soul who is out of balance. In general, these characters are torn between their obligations to others and their desire for freedom, and Heart and Soul must decide what the best solution is; to give the person their freedom, and take away their sorrow, or force them to accept their responsibilities, and take their joy. I appreciate the care with which most of these scenarios were crafted in that neither choice represents an obviously correct solution and both sides have merit. The choices you make in this game are not mere window dressing but have real implications and consequences, and how you resolve each of these scenarios determines which of the game's five endings you get.

While the dungeon-crawling has some innovation to it and the combat is simple but fun, the game's real strengths come from the presentation of its setting and characters. Soma Spirits achieves a rare feat in the RPG Maker world with all the graphics and music being completely custom made and conveying a wonderful old-school aesthetic. Everything is bright and vivid, with the custom soundtrack from SpecialAgentApe bringing everything together in spectacular fashion. Don't you dare play this game with the sound off, the music is absolutely essential to the experience.

The World of Joy is so vibrant and Heart so exuberant that it is absolutely infectious and won over even my cold, black heart in only about thirty seconds. The world of Sorrow is almost comical in how over-the-top dreary it is and I immediately liked Soul's cynical but still very charming demeanor. Both characters are a lot of fun and I feel like the only real missed potential between them is they seem to get along a little too well considering they're complete opposites. I guess it's hard to imagine anyone Heart wouldn't get along with, though. Each of the characters in need of help throughout the world of Soma comes across as effectively sympathetic, which can make deciding to rob them of their joy a difficult decision to make.

These monsters are too cute for Soul's tastes.

As mentioned, the game has five endings, determined by whether you choose to take away the joy or the sorrow in the world, and which of Form or Dissonance you ultimately side with. The game does have a 'true' ending, with the way to unlock it being fairly obvious and probably being the choice most players will make on their first pass through the game. But each of the endings does alter the game's final chapter pretty radically, with the final dungeon and boss being very different in each, so its worth it to try to see more than one ending, and there's even a New Game + feature for people who want to see multiple endings, and even an optional super boss, giving the game a lot of replay value. About the only thing I can think of to improve the experience would be a difficulty setting to provide more of a challenge to experience RPG players.

Soma Spirits is a rare accomplishment for RPG Maker, an absolutely captivating experience that accomplishes virtually everything it sets out to do, and does so wonderfully. It also captures a decidedly 'indie' vibe that's hard to put into words but really catapults it to a level beyond what you see in most other titles. If you like traditional RPGs this is a must play.


Pages: 1
Great googlyboogly! 5 out of 5! That means so much to me!

I'm really glad that all the effort paid off. I'm overjoyed that it was a wonderful experience for you!
Circumstance penalty for being the bard.
I've done over a hundred reviews and I don't give out five stars to just any game. You earned it, friend.

About the only thing I can think of that would improve the game would be a difficulty setting to make things a little more challenging to veteran players or to challenge the player on a New Game+.
You're magical to me.
A great review for a wonderful game ^_^
I should finish playing Hero Man.
I should finish playing Hero Man.

I dunno why but I keep forgetting I made Hero Man. Lol. It seems like such a distant memory now. Even if it was only two years ago.

(Was it really only two years ago? ._.)
It's cause I wasn't involved with that one ;)
Pages: 1