Soul Tolerance: Prologue Review – Artificial Inelegance

Soul Tolerance: Prologue caught my eye the first time I saw it, and somehow managed not to get lost in the shuffle due to its beautiful HD voxel art. Unfortunately, the art design is the best thing about Soul Tolerance, and while I could talk about it all day I have little else positive to say about my experience.

Soul Tolerance opens with a somewhat lengthy and overly philosophical explanation of the premise. Humans died out 130 years before the start of the game. Robots driven by hyper-intelligent AI are life now, especially in the absence of even plants and animals. In a somewhat Psycho-Pass fashion, the Mother, the all powerful being that rules over the world, has a strict directive for monitoring the AI of all robots to make sure that they aren’t becoming predisposed to commit a crime, and also to make sure that they are not achieving consciousness – known in the game world as Soul Tolerance. It’s a fascinating premise, I admit, and the philosophical questions posed at the start are thought-provoking rather than derivative.

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Between this and Rain Code, perhaps Rainpunk is a blossoming new cyberpunk subgenre?

Enter you, Unit-12, a fresh new bot who has been created just moments ago to investigate Hokkaido for a bot that has achieved consciousness. Your prime directive is to find out who it is and bring them in at any cost – you’re even given a credit card with infinite money (that you can’t spend anywhere, but we’ll get to that). Exploring the ever-raining streets of the small open world city, you’ll speak to everyone you can to get lore information while trying to follow up on your only lead, a Cybermonk who may know more. All good so far. Here’s where it falls apart.

Nobody in this city wants to talk to you. No one wants to help you. No one will provide services to you that they render to other bots freely. It is infuriating. I have a list of examples a mile long, but I will try to make my point succinctly. Soul Tolerance is one of those point-and-click adventure games where you’ll speak to one character, they need something from another character across the map, and you bring it to them in exchange for information or an item. Except in this game, when I brought the few NPCs who didn’t tell me to jump in a hole what they were asking for, they didn’t provide me with anything. Nearly every time I solved some kind of puzzle, I gained access to a new area and was just rewarded with lore. I spent almost all of my four hours with Soul Tolerance completely lost.

Of the perhaps 30 robots I was able to talk to, maybe 8 didn’t spit in my face and tell me to shove off.

My main goal is to get inside the temple and meet the Cybermonk. However, the monks don’t like that my joints are so loud. I spend literal hours talking to everyone in the city, completing every tiny quest, and at the end I find myself no closer to actually accomplishing this. For instance, I came across a parking lot that was closed off and needed a key card. I searched for a key card and found it a bit later attached to someone’s car. Great! My spirits high, I headed to the parking lot only to find an excommunicated monk giving a sermon. Perhaps he can help me get into the temple! Oh, to be young and naive again.

After exhausting a very long and boring dialogue tree with him I have no new information and no new items. I find a bot’s three robo-cats that have gone missing and return them. A simple thank you. I fix a robot spider by getting it a new battery, and it only gives me information I already have. I find a store, finally, where they sell new robot parts and do repairs. Of course, I must need to get my joints oiled here. No, the cashier says they’re booked up for oilings today and Unit-12 says “Ah, too bad. Oh well.” I meet a nursebot who does robo-surgery in a back alley, get blackmail dirt on her, and am unable to use it to do anything but hear her life story. She mentions she could help me, but the option for her to actually do that never comes up. The other six shops I find have nothing to say to me and nothing to sell me.

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The voxel art tori gate and holographic tree are beautiful, but the second you walk in here a bunch of monks gather and tell you to get lost and offer no assistance.

I find a bot in a back alley, who has info on how to get my joints oiled, but won’t tell me because I can only pay him with a company credit card. I meet a bot who takes me up a tall tower to see the city, and there is nothing to see and he has no new information. A long series of quests later, I find myself able to enter the Red Light District, something that has been looming over me as an answer to my many troubles. I keep hearing someone in there might be able to help. I walk in, talk to the two robot prostitutes I am able to speak to, and am given no new information nor help. A message pops up that an escaped convict bot is hiding in the red light district and that I can arrest him for extra money. I find him immediately and cannot interact with him beyond him telling me to shove it.  There is nothing else in the Red Light District. My inventory is full of junk no NPCs have any interest in. I have wanted to scream for hours, and I finally do.

The controls, which are point and click to move, are clunky. I don’t understand why WASD movement isn’t available. The camera moves very slowly and there’s no way to adjust it. At least it ran very well, 144 FPS with no frame drops at 1440p on ultra settings on my RTX 2060 Super and Ryzen 5 3600. Small blessings, I suppose. I don’t believe I had any bugs or glitches, but the way that the conversations with these NPCs refused to let me progress in any way had me really wondering. I should note that this game does not currently even launch on Steam Deck, as is indicated where the Steam Store Page says its incompatible.

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Speaking to everyone, doing every quest available, and completing every puzzle in the city brought me 0% closer to seeing the monk.

I cannot describe how infuriating, frustrating, and obstructing Soul Tolerance is at every turn. Every time I solve a puzzle I am rewarded with nothing. Every time I complete a quest, I am rewarded with nothing. Most of the NPCs that I can speak to won’t even speak to me, and half of the ones willing to help me repeat the same information at me I’ve had for hours. The vendors won’t sell me anything or even acknowledge me, and after looping the entire town and every back alley four times I am 100% sure I have exhausted every avenue to reach the Cybermonk as I was instructed. Whether it is a bug that is halting my progression or poor game design, I haven’t had an experience this frustrating with a video game in a very long time. Despite it boasting some of the most beautiful art design in games this year, I do not recommend Soul Tolerance: Prologue to anyone.

Nirav reviewed Soul Tolerance: Prologue on PC with a review code.


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