Stop the revived emperor and his terracotta army before they wake up the sleeping dragon and dominate the world! This is your mission in Lost Artifacts: Soulstone, a strategy game from 8floor Games brought to Xbox by SPL, where you will be joining forces with Claire and her friends while venturing for 40+ levels of resource management quests against the clock in a colorful and simple game for all ages. Put your explorer hat and let’s find a way to stop the emperor! But we better watch out, because since he has the millenary terracotta army at his disposal, we will soon discover that the emperor may have something on his sleeves waiting for us.
What is Good?
- Sound: Some simple and highly enjoyable music will give the pace for your adventure. The sound effects for your actions, characters,
andbuildings are also very good, reminding me of good and old strategy games like Warcraft and Age of Empires, but without the violence contained in these titles. Everything in this game is very child-friendly.
- Comics: The story of the game is told in some interesting comics book-like scenes, with some good graphics. I just wished them to be more present, more numerous, throughout our adventure, since they are the only glimpse about the story we have while playing.
- Visuals: Scenarios and items from the environment are colorful, especially the buildings, which have a good amount of details. And it’s cool to spot the differences between fully upgraded buildings and their initial versions.
- Gameplay: The gameplay in Lost Artifacts: Soulstone is too simple to be called engaging, involving or any other similar adjectives. You command your characters to gather resources, destroy obstacles or to build or repair structures. As you advance in the game, you will have at your disposal some spells that will make your characters work faster or stop the time, because the only challenge you have in the game is to complete a list of tasks before the time runs out (or aiming or the three stars, if you are a completionist). To do so, you must figure out the best sequence of actions. It’s good for younger players, who will have an easy to understand and easy to complete game, but for veterans or more experienced players, it’s waaaaay too uninteresting.
- Controlling your characters: To give orders for your characters, you will use the left stick to control the cursor and select items or resources to gathers or constructions to work at by pressing the A button. And that’s all. You have 10+ more buttons in Xbox controller to help you but instead, the developer opted to keep it more loyal to the PC version of the game. Well, at least you have a button to center the cursor and (later) some hotkeys for your spells.
- Game modes: This is a game so easy and simple that surprises me to see another mode for it on the settings screen: you can choose between Casual Mode, ‘for players familiar with casual games’, and Easy Mode, ‘without time limits’. I doubt it was really necessary. Those aiming for the 1000G, on the other hand, may find it useful (though I couldn’t confirm if collecting all them in easy mode would unlock the last achievement).
What is Bad?
- Visuals… again: Yes, the visuals will be mentioned again. Although the aforementioned colorful items, scenarios and buildings, all elements in your screen are very small. Characters animations are too simple, and most of the elements are in low definition. I don’t expect a simple game like this to have 4K graphics with stunning light effects and full HDR colors… but we all the raw power inside your Xbox (especially if you got an Xbox One X), we can and should always demand more. The game interface isn’t the best there is. The level select map has too much information on it and it’s impossible to pan the camera or zoom in or out over elements at the scenario
- Repetition: It’s not only the music that will be in an almost endless repetition (they are only four, but they are good, so I’m not mentioning it here… oops, I just did), but the gameplay is really tiresome. Your tasks consist in building or restoring something, stocking up some resources or to chase away some soldiers from the terracotta army, with little variation between one and another. Some more variation in your missions would have been much welcome to this game.
Lost Artifacts: Soulstone | Score: 40%
I love the fact that each day, more and more publishers port their games to Xbox One. Be it a previous exclusive for another platform or a game previously unavailable for consoles, thanks to that we were able to play great titles like Hellblade Senua’s Sacrifice (when talking about competition), Asdivine Hearts (when talking about mobile games) and Darkest Dungeon (when thinking about PC games), for instance. But not every game has received the same attention and appropriate adjustments while being ported. Unfortunately, Lost Artifacts: Soulstone falls into the second category. It is a simple game, indeed, but the port didn’t upgrade anything in the title. The whole experience, while good for achievement hunters or younger players, misses any kind of interesting challenge that makes it attractive to other publics.