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Soul Grinder review: a shmup that's more frustrating than fun

I am not a fan of trial-and-error gameplay; the kind of gameplay that forces you to replay a level over and over again because there is no way of knowing what is ahead; a game more about level memorization than pure skill. Soul Grinder, a new shmup for iOS, Android and Ouya, incorporates such gameplay and ends up being more frustrating than fun.

I had fun with Soul Grinder at first, when the difficulty wasn't much of an issue, but all that changed quickly as I found myself dying because I had no idea an enemy or obstacle was going to pop up right in front of me. Feeling like I never had a chance is a feeling I never enjoy when playing a game and, near the end of the first world--there are three worlds of eight levels each and then a final boss battle--that feeling became constant. On top of that, the controls are just a bit loose and, in a game that requires quick reactions and precise movements, even the smallest of control issues is exacerbated.

I wanted to like Soul Grinder; it has a nice art style and a solid selection of unlockable masks for changing up the way your character looks; there are many pop culture-themed masks, from Sub-Zero to Jason to a purple Power Ranger, never officially named of course--the Sub-Zero mask is called, "Ice Ninja." But, despite quality art, decent music, and some fun ideas, the trial-and-error nature of the game ruined the experience and I ended up beating the game just to shove it in the game's face, not because I actually wanted to.

*Soul Grinder is available now on iOS for $0.99 and will be available on Ouya and Android in, hopefully, a few weeks.

Soul Grinder (iOS Universal)


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