Void Sols is the minimalist Soulslike you didn’t know you needed | Hands-on preview

by on March 28, 2024

The Soulslike genre, as a concept, has been pretty thoroughly explored over the last 15 years. We’ve had it in fantasy worlds, sci-fi worlds, anime worlds, huge open worlds; with swords, guns, fisticuffs, lightsabers; with 2D graphics, 3D graphics, isometric viewpoints, top-down viewpoints, in first person, third person – there’s even a Soulslike coming where you play as a crab. So doing anything new with the genre is pretty difficult. Void Sols, from Finite Reflections Studio, is attempting to innovate by stripping out a lot of pesky distractions like 3D graphics and over-designed bosses to put a minimalist spin on the concept of dodging and backstabbing anything that gets in your way.

I played a preview build that begins with your unassuming little triangle waking up in a prison. Presumably the triangle is intended to represent whatever heroic fantasy stalwart you can imagine, with the quite straightforward goal of leaving the prison.

Void Sols

You have a sword right away and will shortly find a bow for ranged combat, and you light little beacons to act as save points. If you die (and you will) you’ll drop all your Sols and need to pick them up off your corpse. Being top-down means you can’t see round corners, and you being in darkness until you light torches scattered about the place.

Thankfully, this means enemies can’t see you right away either, and requires them to get a good look at you before they can relentlessly pursue you. For such a simple idea, combat is surprisingly smooth and responsive. You’ve a dodge, a backstep, and can mix light and heavy attacks with the aforementioned bow. Enemies don’t really swarm you, but a stamina meter means you’ll need to be careful not to try and dodge too many hits in quick succession.

Despite a handful of extra modes that are already available, such as the endurance-like Nox Trials mode, I can’t help but feel that Void Sols lacks a little substance at the moment. It’s minimalist by design of course, and I’ve no doubt the combat will deepen as more weapons and abilities are unlocked, so fingers crossed there’s a lot more to be seen later in the game.

Void Sols

That said, it manages to be pretty atmospheric, thanks to the Spartanly detailed environments and oppressive gloom. You never know what’s waiting around each corner, though when you are beset by hostile geometry you don’t have an awful lot of options for dealing with them. Any game attempting to recreate the thrill and nuance of classic Soulslike combat in such a format is always going to hit roadblocks like this, and although there’s a certain satisfaction to the melee feedback, it’s hard to say just how deep Void Sols will get. It’s an immediate fit for the Steam Deck, though, if that’s your bag, given the simple aesthetic.

Anyone looking for a new type of Soulslike challenge might well find Void Sols worth tangling with. The section I played presents a dark, grimy world with interesting, if simplistic, combat that nevertheless demands to be explored and beaten by anyone brave enough.

Void Sols will be coming to Steam.