Windows Phone 7 launched with 30 or so Xbox Live titles. With so many games coming out at once, a few were bound to be overlooked. One such title is The Revenants: Corridor of Souls from Chaotic Moon Studios. It's a simple title with a couple of unique gameplay mechanics and a creepy theme.
Revenant isn’t a common word these days, so you could be forgiven for not knowing its meaning. A revenant is someone who returns from the dead (like a ghost or a zombie). In Corridor of Souls, the titular revenants consist of the spirits of creepy, crawly animals like spiders, scorpions, and frogs.
To find out more about the Corridor of Souls, head past the jump.
Lots of corridors
Each level in The Revenants contains a series of rooms, viewed from an overhead perspective. Random assortments of ghostly enemies spawn in each room. Once the player frees them all of their souls, the game automatically proceeds to the next room. So it goes – room to room, stage to stage, until the player runs out of lives. The Revenants doesn’t actually have an ending; like classic arcade games, it’s all about getting as far as you can with as many points as possible.
Combat works like the classic arcade game Qix, except the player isn’t anchored to the room’s walls. The player controls a nameless ball of white light (a newly-formed spirit, according to Xbox.com). If an enemy touches the ball, you die. Tapping anywhere on the screen moves the ball, while dragging your finger forms a purple trail behind it. Cross the trail before it disappears (i.e. draw a circle) to create a vortex. Vortexes suck in and destroy enemies for several seconds, releasing their souls as purple orb pickups. Each soul adds to a bonus meter that awards extra lives when filled, so it’s important to grab souls before they vanish.
Chasing high scores
A score-based game needs a satisfying scoring system, and that’s where Corridor of Souls excels. The more enemies caught in a vortex, the more points the player earns. It’s all about netting as many simultaneous enemies as possible. Vortexes can be made around each other (a circle within a circle), but they can’t intersect. Thus players must decide whether a few large circles or several small circles better suit the situation; you don’t want to be stuck unable to catch an attacking enemy because there’s no room for another vortex.
Each kind of enemy in The Revenants acts differently. Frogs don’t move much, but they stick out their tongues at the player. Centipedes start out small and become more difficult to catch as their bodies elongate. Scarab beetles and mice immediately chase the player, while some enemies are oblivious to your location. They generally overwhelm with numbers rather than cunning – on the higher difficulties, it gets hard to find a clear path to draw a vortex without running into a bad guy.
Graphics and sound
The Revenants won’t win awards for its visuals, but they get the job done. Rooms have little details like blood stains on the floor, discarded shackles, and animated torches. Each type of enemy gives off a different colored light. Vortexes create an impressive warping effect on the background. The game has only one tune, but it’s suitably creepy and tense.
Corridor of Souls’ Achievements mostly involve accomplishing creative things with vortexes. Omnivore requires you to capture 5 or more different enemy types in one vortex, while you get Synchronicity for capturing three or more enemies in each of 3 simultaneous vortexes. Each of the game’s three difficulty levels also has its own Achievement for scoring a certain number of points – these proved frustrating to go after. Easy was no problem, but most people probably won’t survive long enough in Normal or Hard for those levels’ Achievements.
The Revenants isn't the most complicated game out there. Once the developers had an engine, some enemies, and room graphics, that was pretty much it. The Xbox.com product page claims:
The game follows a newly formed spirit as it finds clues, solves puzzles, learns spells, and captures other ghosts. The goal is to absorb their powers and transform your character from a weak, insignificant spirit to a powerful Revenant ghost-god.
That sounds cool, but none of it (except capturing ghosts) is in the game! Puzzles, any kind of story, and a feeling of progress would have improved the experience greatly.
The Revenants is quite a challenge – sometimes a bit too hard for gaming on the go. The player must fully concentrate at all times. Lose focus for a split second and the swarms of ghosts are guaranteed to take you down. On the harder difficulties, it's not uncommon to be completely swarmed by enemies with no clear path of escape.
Other times I died because my finger obscured some tiny enemy as I tried to draw a vortex. The game offers the option to move with or without your finger on the ball of light, but moving with my finger somewhere else on the screen didn’t feel right.
The Revenants: Corridor of Souls harkens back to a different time, when save points and endings weren’t expected from video games. Still, chasing after high scores and staying alive for as long as possible can be a fun challenge. If that sounds like your thing, definitely give it a try. The core game play here is quite solid, but I found myself wishing for a bit more meat to the game.
The Revenants: Corridor of Souls costs $2.99. You can grab it or the demo here (Zune link) on the Marketplace.