The latest console port from Tonguç Bodur, Finding the Soul Orb, debuted on PC back in 2020. The console conversion, following in the footsteps of The Dead Tree of Ranchiuna, has been published by eastasiasoft. Exactly why this title was chosen from Bodur’s extensive catalogue is not known, but as you’ll learn in this Finding the Soul Orb review, we’re very glad it was.
The Dead Tree of Ranchiuna was an interesting title. A walking simulator with no pretence in hiding the fact, it delivered a commentary on social politics. Specifically, how it can be used to persecute without evidence. Finding the Soul Orb takes a different path. It’s a medieval fantasy game, with wizards and magic and werewolves and more besides. What the subtext is here – if there even is one – is far less obvious.
The game plays from a first-person perspective. The opening section sees the player rowing ashore with no information as to where they’re going, nor why. Immediately the visual design is striking. Much more intricately detailed than The Dead Tree of Ranchiuna and perfectly setting the scene for exploration. The opening strikes comparisons to Resident Evil Village; high praise indeed given the assumed respective budgets for each title.
The plot is revealed very gradually as you encounter specific glowing placements that deliver a short text-based back story. It’s not the most elegant solution, but it works. In some chapters there is also a bit of voice-acting, mixing-up the delivery somewhat. Oddly however, the voice comes from the titular soul orb. A flying blue orb created from a falling meteor. As you do.
Despite the fact that you are armed from the very first level, it would be a misdirection if this Finding the Soul Orb review were to imply it was an action game. Bodur himself states that the “core aspect of this game is the atmosphere” on the Steam store. You may shoot the odd werewolf, but this is certainly the least interesting aspect of the game. Generally speaking, the crossbow is used to solve puzzles. Which Finding the Soul Orb delivers in much greater frequency than The Dead Tree of Ranchiuna. Thankfully.
In fact, there’s an obvious indication that some of the (extremely) limited combat or a puzzle lies ahead. When you’re not about to encounter a use for the crossbow, it’s put away. Automatically. As you approach a new event, your avatar brings it out. At first it feels like an odd design decision, but it’s coming from a perspective of not being an FPS. And indeed, for an audience who may not play FPS games regularly.
And that’s exactly where Finding the Soul Orb lies. It’s not an FPS, but is bringing some lukewarm FPS action to a walking simulator. It’s an interesting new step for the formula, but at the same time feels like the pacing hasn’t been adjusted to accommodate the new gameplay elements. If you loved The Dead Tree of Ranchiuna, there are far worse ways to spend an evening than with Finding the Soul Orb. It’s an thoroughly enjoyable experience in it’s own right. Just don’t go expecting the same attention to detail in plot delivery.