Windows Phone 8 gets its first strategy RPG: Spectral Souls

The late January release of Skulls of the Shogun for Windows Phone 7 and 8 might have quenched some players’ thirst for a mobile strategy game. But you can never have too many strategy titles, and besides, Skulls (while not a casual game) is not the most hardcore strategy game in the world. Windows Phone still needed a true strategy role-playing game like Final Fantasy Tactics or Disgaea that could keep a player busy pretty much forever.

Japanese developer HyperDevbox recognized that need, and now they’ve published the very first strategy RPG for Windows Phone 8: Spectral Souls.  Originally a retail Playstation 2 release, Spectral Souls promises hundreds of hours of role-playing goodness for dedicated players.

This is why we don’t break mirrors

Spectral Souls tells the tale of the Seven Year War taking place in the fantastic realm of Neverland. At the outset, the evil Demon Army (you were expecting them to be good guys?) destroys a small town called Petun. This sets into motion a three-sided conflict, as the established human army and a new rebel army clash against the demons and each other.

Tactics time

As the tale unfolds, players will be thrust into battles against both humans and monsters alike. The combat takes place on small battlefield maps. Each character has a certain range of movement and a unique assortment of attacks and skills they can draw upon in battle. It feels very much like Final Fantasy Tactics, so that’s definitely a good thing.

This game also introduces more complex attack techniques such as Holding, Charging, and Chain Attacks. Hold allows a single character to chain multiple attacks together for increased damage, while Charge requires the participation of multiple characters. Chain Attacks occur when a character performs specific attacks one after the other. It’s all very complicated, but the game does at least explain it to you early on.  It also provides a dauntingly large Tutorial menu that basically functions as an instruction manual.

So much game on the go

Spectral Souls really feels like a full Playstation 2 S-RPG squeezed onto a Windows Phone. It opens with an anime-style intro (that doesn’t give you enough time to read anything) complete with lyrical Japanese rock song. The graphics won’t amaze anyone, but they’re up to par as far as this genre goes and certainly higher resolution than Skulls of the Shogun’s. While the story is told entirely through text, the music is quite good and consists of 52 different tracks.

The actual controls rely on a virtual d-pad and buttons, which takes a little getting used to. A larger or repositionable d-pad would be more comfortable, but this one works well enough. As for the buttons, I recommend switching to a style that puts the A button on the right side instead of the left. Nobody wants to reach all the way to the middle of the screen every time they need to confirm options or advance the text.

Size and value

People who balked at the $7 price of yesterday’s The Amazing Spider-Man release will possibly have a heart attack when they see how much Spectral Souls costs: $12.99. Yes, that’s a lot for a mobile game, but for comparison, Final Fantasy Tactics (there I go mentioning it again!) costs $15.99 on iOS. This is a full retail console game squeezed onto phones, and it really offers an immense quantity of gameplay.

For some people, every phone game should cost a dollar, and no game will ever be worth more to them. That’s a very unhealthy attitude as it would prevent larger projects like this from coming along. If game makers adhered to that value proposition, we’d never get anything but puzzle games and Angry Birds clones. If $7 or $13 is too much for you no matter what, you’ll just have to be content with small casual games. /soapbox

Get your strategy on

Spectral Souls requires Windows Phone 8 and unfortunately does not offer a trial. But if you like the genre, it’s a safe bet. The download is 575 MB, so you’ll need more than 2 GB (possibly 3 GB) of free space to install it. Get it here at the Windows Phone Store.

Alternatively, the Windows 8 version for PC and tablet costs $15.99. Get it here from the Windows 8 Store.

Thanks to Ben Sillis of Republic Publishing for originally tipping us on this game!

QR: Spectral Souls

Paul Acevedo

Paul Acevedo is the Games Editor at Windows Central. A lifelong gamer, he has written about videogames for over 15 years and reviewed over 350 games for our site. Follow him on Twitter @PaulRAcevedo. Don’t hate. Appreciate!

  • 12.99?
  • Holy s**t
  • :-0
  • I don't think the price is the real issue here, because you're getting a LOT more for your money than a $.99 or free game. The real issue in my mind is whether phones are really an appropriate target for games with this degree of content. I'd typically sit down and play a game like this for a couple hours at a time, and I'd really rather do that on a larger screen like a PC or console. Don't get me wrong -- I'm super happy to see this kind of stuff coming to WP. I'm just having a hard time wrapping my head around how insanely long it would take to complete a game like this in 10-15 minute chunks...
  • Lower cost could attract more customers and income would be nearly the same but it would be much more popular. I don't play games a lot but I can easily buy .99$ game. Never to buy expensive game even if it's interesting.
  • Lowering the cost to $0.99 might work for simple games that anyone might want to play, but for a fairly niche genre such as this, I don't think dropping the price that far would really bring a 13X increase in payed downloads.
    While there is obviously a lot of consumer benefit in having cheap apps, I think a lot of harm is done by the expectation that NOTHING on a phone should ever cost more than $1.  This is a full game that cost $50 when it first came out and provides HUNDREDS of hours of gameplay.  Granted, I agree with people who question wanting to play that much on a phone, but I think developers should be encouraged to offer the option of high quality/high price apps or games.
    I actually saw a review for a $2.50 app that said it was a great app, and he used it every day (obviously the trial version), but $2.50 was too much.  He said to bring it down to $1.99 and he would be all over paying for it.  He was complaining (and giving a low rating) to an app he used EVERY DAY over $0.50.  There is nothing else of any importance to people that they will quarrel over such a small aount of money for.
    Sorry for the rant, but it bothers me to hear people say they will NEVER buy an expensive app, regardless of the quality.  Volume doesn't magically make up for cheap prices all the time, and you are basically precluding high-quality apps from even being attempted.
  • Very well said, dude.
  • This is my concern too, I got the snes emulator that they released not long ago thinking I'd play it all the time, but realised I'm just not gunna play full real games on my phone.
    With that said, I may pick it up for Win8... :D
  • snes emulator on wp8? yes please and where can i get it?
  • SNES 8X
  • Thanks i found it shortly after typing that and have since uploaded some classic games to my skydrive zelda link to the past in my palm on the train to work :) awesome nostalgia.
  • I would be happy with this price if it got you the Windows 8 version included. Otherwise, the most I would pay for a game - even one of this scale - is the £5 ($7/8) or so that AAA publishers are charging, like Square Enix.
  • I just got wet.
  • Lmao epic comment
  • Hahahaha
  • Me too, I got dripping wet.
  • Boing
  • Nice review Paul, this week game makers have been keeping you busy. Nice role playing game, keep them coming.
  • No heart attack...just ignore.
  • I would buy this in a heartbeat if it were Xbox Live enabled.
  • We've asked the dev about why it's not an XBL game. Will report on it next time I talk about the game.
  • Awesome. You guys do everything I want to do. If you're ever hiring, hit me up. :P
  • Ditto!!!
  • We are not currently an XBOX Live developer. However we will see what is required so this title can be expanded for XBOX live. Thank you for the comment.
  • Thank YOU for bringing this to us! I for one am more than happy to have paid the $12.99, and I want you to know your efforts are supremely appreciated by many. It is my hope that Windows customers treat you well.
  • yea if microsoft dosn't make this xbox enabled they are pretty stupid one look at this should be given xbox status *just need to add achievements for people like me :p *
  • yeah with achievements and maybe even a little cross buy/play option with 360 and this would be a killer app indeed sign me up.
  • I might have to purchase this. Off Topic -Check out My Country guys. It's like Sim City
  • I love My Country!
  • Oh yeah me too..
  • Oh wow! i  cant wait to try this!
  • I have been playing it for a couple of weeks now. I have reached the young city era and am on level 31. The eras seem to stop there, maybe unless I purchase more land.
  • tempting...wish i would actually finish games i buy for once 
  • +1 LOL
  • I like the hard core death thrash metal game till you die music in the game intro
  • +1,000
  • 12.99????????? this isn't Steam.
  • But it IS a former ps2 game. I think $12.99 for over 100 hours is a BARGAIN. I challenge you to find many games for any platform, mobile or not, that offers 100 hours of gameplay for under $20.
  • ANY Final Fantasy game or any that have a high replay value. Even angry birds with 3 star achievements.
  • Do you know what Final Fantasy games go for on iOS? Very similar prices to this, and Tactics actually costs more. Also, the amount of content and work that goes into an RPG is approximately 1,000 times greater than what goes into a physics puzzle game like Angry Birds.
  • Defend your purchase all you want, all I am saying is if I can't use a mouse and keyboard and sit comfortably, its not worth more than 5 bucks to me on a small underpowered screen. And yes, FF on WP is 6.99
  • Sure, because it's a dirt-old game. But Final Fantasy III is $15.99, IV is $15.99, and Dimensions is $19.99. Also, I'm not defending my own purchase. It's the concept of pricing games higher than a fire sale that I defend.
  • Shouldn't I have the OPTION to pay $15-$20 for a mobile game if I choose? The bottom line is, if there wasn't a demand it wouldn't exist as a mobile game in the first place and also, it's the market that sets the price. If no one ever purchased this for $12.99, the price would come down. It's basic economics. Obviously there's a large enough group of individuals who happily pay premium dollars for premium content. SO much so that HyperDevbox brought this title to THREE mobile ecosystems. You may not want to pay that much, but stop with the fake hostility towards people willing to pay for what they want. I hear Angry Birds chirping your name, come to think of it.
  • Counter-strike: source offered me 1800 hours of gameplay for less than 10$, lol.
  • Do you make a habit of laughing at things that aren't funny?
  • The price is fine as long as you get windows 8 and wp8 versions at the same time. At this time, it is not possible. Hopefully, windows blue will solve that. I would love to have my saves synced betwene w8 and wp8 :)
  • Skulls of the Shogun accomplished this, so we do not need to wait until Blue, they just didn't want to implement it
  • I figured that saving on the cloud would do the trick. What I meant with Windows Blue is the rumer that stores will be combined into one store. That way, I can buy both of them at once. I do not have plans to pay 25$ for the two versions but I might pay 15 for two versions.
  • As far as we are aware the stores can not mix. 
    looking at the title you mention though. it is a microsoft title. maybe they can break their own rules??
  • People have to purchase each version of Skulls independently. But the save files between all three versions are shared across the cloud - that's what they meant.
  • Love this!
  • I'll gladly pay 13 dollar for a real game, compared to 1 dollar for the time wasters that fill the store these days. Will be checking this out, shame it doesn't have a trial option.
  • I wouldn't have an issue if there was a demo and/or live support. A $13 blind purchase (while your insight is very helpful) is going to be a hard sell to WP users. Ahhhh...I'll still probably buy the damn thing.
  • Yeah I have a realistic view of how much time/money goes into game development and realize that its still a better deal than the old gameboy days for portable gaming and even compared to moderd DS/3DS/PSP/Vita.
    But having not trial for a game that is pricer than most "AAA" phone games? Even those shallow $.99 - $5 games have a way to try before you buy. At least I could see the Youtube video attached to this story and get and idea for the game flow ( it looks like its right up my alley). But videos aren't built into the WP app store infrastructure so they better hope they are good at grass roots marketing if they want to sell a ton of copies because people just casually browsing the store are going to balk unfortunately. And then the developer is goind to say "WP sucks because not we didn't sell a lot of copies"
    Honestly the only reason I'm hesitating is because my 920 heats up like the sun on some games/apps. I had skulls of the shogun trial overheat and crash several times so I didn't purchase that game. In the end a comparable game (final fantasy tactics) cost around the same on the most popular mobile phone gaming platform (iOS) so at least thisdoesn't appear to be a case of artifical inflation or price gouging just because its a WP app.
  • must agree.. 13$ without a trial to check it out first... I dunno. 99cents is no biggie, even 2 or 3 dollars isn't much on a blind shot... but 13$, I could get a decent amount of gems in GW2 for 10$ so at that price it's in direct competition with my MMO addiction of choice, without a trial that's a hard sell. 
  • Bought it without hesitation. 50% purely for supporting the game market with what really is a pittance, 50% because i love the game concept and graphics.
    Also, if we think what I "saved" on asphalt 7, its basically priced like any other game, making it mad cheap for the quality instead of simply "very cheap".
  • I like this post and agree with your purchasing reasons very much. Just wanted to let you know.
  • Yeah, sorry $13 is too much for a phone game. I don't care what the game is, $13 is too much. I don't why the software companies are being biased with WP users charging so much for games while on IOS many games can be found and seen for $1, new and old releases.
  • People like you, I believe, are holding this platform back.
  • No, I fully support the Windows platform. With that being said, that does not mean that I will drop $13 whenever a game comes out to say that, "I support the platform".
  • Of course you shouldn't buy a game if it doesn't interest you. Let's just understand that there are larger, more expensive games on every mobile platform. It's important for niches like RPGs to be filled, even if they cost more than other games.
  • $13.99 on iOS and $12.83 on Android. Yep, they sure are gouging us Windows Phone users. ;)
  • Sorry but like others have posted a comparable games, like Final Fantasy Tactics, are $15.99 on iOS; so this is not a case of price gouging WP users like you want to believe.
    iTunes link ot FFT:
  • £9.99 here in the UK... I do like a bit of strategy RPGing, but I don't know how often I'd play this on my phone... The Win 8 version is £11.99, and I'd be much more likely to play it on my laptop. On a related note, if that £11.99 netted me both PC and phone versions, I'd jump at it.
  • Looks really good, does this burn through battery? Ever since I updated to portico on my HTC 8x my battery has been taking a beating.
  • I only played it for about 30 minutes, but it doesn't seem to push the hardware as much as Asphalt 7 and Amazing Spider-Man (i.e. the phone didn't get that warm).
  • Thanks Paul, asphalt, Spiderman, and both 8x emulators drain my battery even when charging, kinda hurts the experience when I have to worry about the battery all the time. Do you know if portico is responsible for the increases power drain, before the update I don't remember having this problem.
  • I really think it's just a result of how much certain games push the CPU and GPU. The best you can do is make sure you're using a 2.1A charger, turn brightness down, and/or turn off things like cellular data and Bluetooth.
  • Ok thanks, just checked and my charger is a 0.2a charger.
  • .2A is really... really low. A typical charger is 1-2A. My kindle charger that I use now is 1.8A. My charger that the phone shipped with is 1A. You have 5x less power delivery (power = iV btw) than a typical charger. That's probably why your phone charges so slowly.
  • I've been using a charger from a old flip phone of mine because my brother threw mine out thinking it was his broken one. It does take forever to charge but, my phone still drains like crazy when charged, can't figure it out.
  • ''because my brother threw mine out thinking it was his broken one''. Gosh,that's gotta hurt now.
  • hahahahaha WTF? I got better deals and better gaming on my Xbox with the past GoD Sales!!!
    Portable gaming is for nuts.
  • And what do you think those GoD games (all of which have been out for months or years) sell for when they're not on sale?
  • C'mon. Halo 4 and resident evil 6 is just out.
  • Yeah, but those didn't cost less than $13. RE6 did go on sale for $20, but mostly because it failed to meet sales expectations at retail.
  • $12.99   bwahahahahahahahahahaha....
    ...looking forward to the article that reports Spectral Souls is pulling WIndows Phone development due to "poor sales"
  • You're right. What do we need RPGs for, anyway?
  • This is definitely one of the more expensive games. I might fork out 10 bucks max for a mobile game. Heck, I got CS source for five bucks and that game never ends.
  • Oh my freaking god i want to click buy so badly. I have been dying for a good jrpg game like this on WP. It looks epic and the art style is stunning. I already have Doom&Destiny and Dragon's Blade X but id delete both for this. The price is the only hiccup but i will sleep on it. Glad to see the platform getting some great apps. Finally the flood gates seem to be opening.
  • Lol, me too but without a demo I don't want to drop 12.99 unless I know its good. I'll probably just look at some video of it on YouTube to decide.
  • Looks soooo good want to buy it but ive go 1.69gb left and my 820 is telling me i need to free up space??!!
  • Yep, you need 4x the space as the size of the game. An annoying Windows Phone quirk.
  • I wouldn't mind spending my cash for this game, as it actually looks pretty cool. Unfortunately there isn't any trial available. And without knowing if I really liked the game, I rather not spend my money for it. I hope the publisher will add a trial later on, as I expect others wanting to take a look at the game first before investing this considerable amount of money.
  • The iOS version has a trial, so hopefully the dev will offer one for this too eventually.
  • Too much expensive + No ACHIEVEMENTS (xbox) = no buy. Sorry M$ but you gotta release more xbox games to have my cash ;)
  • The Xbox games are the ones released by Microsoft. This was published by a 3rd party. And if you won't support them when they're independent, why should they jump thru the hoops to make an Xbox game? Its an amazing looking game, and even without achievements im tempted to get it. Only thing stopping me is I just shelled out $250 for tires and $30 for Dishonored. Probably going to get it next paycheck.
  • Same here (waiting for payday).
  • Hahahaha I see what you did there you took the S out of the abbreviation of Microsoft, being MS, and turned it into a dollar sign because it looks like an S but somehow indicates that Microsoft, a commercial entity, is interested in making money! Dude you is hilarious with your social you do lectures?
  • If we want to have more devs for WP8 then we should support high quality (albeit more expensive) games like this more often. that's how you build a platform.
  • How are the loading times? I'm tempted to buy it but gonna hold out a little while longer in hope of a trial.
  • They're pretty fast: 2-3 seconds from title screen to actual gameplay.
  • There are no load times.
  • Awesome!
  • Looks intriguing...
    I'd pay for it, mostly likely will pay for it...
  • If im not mistaken Steins;Gate HD on iOS costs like USD $35. So, this one for 13 bucks is not ridiculous yet...
  • Great game bought it and am playing it controls seem easy graphics great and quick i am enjoying it have managed to grasp the basics need to play more now
  • Us dollar 12.99 ?????//
  • You don't have (=moticons or $ymbols..? @_@
  • I remember when all games were $15-50US. This was in the early to mid nineties. I find it sad that people will pitch a fit about paying $13 for a game. Sometimes you just have to take a chance. I used to have a pile of CD-ROMs that were shitty games I bought and didn't get pissed about spending money on a game I didn't like.
  • Personally? I use my phone like I used to use my DS and PSP. So yeah, it has to be constantly plugged in, but I love me some mobile gaming and more content is more than welcome in my world. And cheaper than PSP games
  • I'm excited for this. Does it come in Japanese too though? Only English?
  • I'm buying, but this should really have SkyDrive backup. I advise other buyers to email the dev as I am about to...
  • I reset my phone last night so I could have enough room to install asphalt 7. Now I don't have enough room to install this already. Fuck.
  • I have 2.23GB of free space and I can't install this.
  • Not sure what you guys have that's taking up all that space lol. But if its pictures and videos then make sure they are uploaded to SkyDrive and delete from your phone. You can always view the SkyDrive camera roll tile like before just not all that space is on the device. Idk just trying to help!
  • For me, just one big question - does it save to the cloud?
    I gave up deep Windows Phone games because through upgrades or flashing the couple of times I did, all of the game save data is lost. To have played games like Final Fantasy and The Harvest where I spent many hours only for it all to be lost has made me a bit hesitant to pull the trigger on these types of titles.
  • Seriously, why waste time on lost uh, time... =s
  • After reading the article, it really make me wanna buy it. But, after watching the video, found out it's yet another game on touch device failed to use touch input and still rely on virtual on screen d-pad. That, kind of put me off with money that I'm about to spend on it.
    I'll wait until it go on sales :P
  • Devs long ago figured out that pure touch input is silly and gimmicky and correctly prefer to emulate a superior input device...
  • Is it silly though?? I think they're just frightened and uninspired children who pretend to be professionals...WHEN I figure out how to fully take advantage of the maximum effect of touch controls, my game will see the light! @_@
  • WILL THIS GAME RUN ON 512 MB RAM????????
  • yes tested on a Nokia 620 and a Nokia 920
  • Those of you who ran out of space on your phone, get an app called Shrink Storage (it is free from the Store). Click fill space, wait for 10+ minutes until you get the confirmation message. Wait for 30 seconds or so, and then close that message. Restart your phone and wait for 30 seconds or so, during which WP8 will try to delete cache files to release space. Then, go back to the app and click free storage.
    results may vary but my phone released about 4GB more of free space after one run. (Probably because I downloaded Asphalt 7 too many times unsuccessfully and they all got stuck in the cache.)
  • I have 3.5GB of free space and I still can't download it. Something else is wrong.
  • Link, I BELIEVE it needs min 4GB free :/
  • I had about 3GB and couldn't install. I released some space using that app and was able to install with 6GB+ of free space.
    I need to hurry up and finish the big games I bought if they keep releasing good games like this.
  • I don't understand why a half-G download requires 2GB of space..? =[
  • Because the download is half a G, then it needs to extract, which is more than the DL size, THEN it must install the game, and subsequently delete the installer and DL files.
  • If my phones 'Other' storage wasn't taking up 5GB of space on my 820 then i might consider buying this.
  • If this is too much to spend on a game of this magnitude, you clearly need to get a better job. Its about two beers here in Norway.
  • Hanhua Yin, thanks for your Shrink Storage tip. I gained 1 gig! Now to wonder if i might buy this game. Because it will cost time and patience...
  • I would like Diablo 1 on my phone :-)
  • I think the fact that the dev is on here responding to comments and questions is awesome. I'll be picking this up for sure when I upgrade my phone.
  • Android version was $14.99 and the game is 1GB. The game sucks compared to games like Dungeon Defenders.
  • They're completely different genres.
    Please help me find a way to save or provide me with a contact number or email address so that I may ask for a refund. Thanks much.
    -Oliver Smiles
  • Nevermind. The sky ISN'T falling! I found a contact number AND the save feature.
  • Oh, I forgot to mention: It is a disservice to this game and to Nokia Lumia 920 to buy it for WP8. The game deserves to played on a much larger screen and that's not the 920's fault.
  • Is it really the first strategy RPG? Doesn't "Doom & Destiny" qualify?
  • Doom & Destiny is just an RPG or J-RPG. The battles aren't strategic in the same sense as this game.
  • Looks really nice.  Not my genre-of-choice, but looks great.
  • Looks good, vandal hearts I think was my favorite I have never been much of a tactics fan.
  • Freed up 1.97 gig to install this but i still don't have enough space! Got 2.45 gig of 'other' stuff. Used the storage cleaning app, not sure what else to delete... How much space do i need!
  • I have now got 2.4 gb free and still cant install it!
  • Installed on mine fine no space issues on my lumia 820 i still have 3.5gb left, am enjoying this game too
  • Yay games!
    Price shmice, support the devs working hard to bring good games to wp8!
  • What do you guys think of the gameplay? Is it straight forward or does it still need some tweaking?
  • I don't think the price is the issue, it's the lack of a trial. Mobile games need a trial, and while I'm not a fan of this genre they might get more sales if they let people try it first. Not having a trail does them a disservice of getting more eyes on their game. As it stands, I'm not even considering purchasing this game because I'm not dropping $13 on a game I've never seen.
  • Now i have 2.67gb still saying i have to free up space!!??
  • Ok, i have been playing This game for some time now, and i have to say in impressed! The value of gameplay you get is Alot! Including a huge tutorial everything is explained to the slightest detail. I used to play Doom & Destiny which was alot of fun. But the strategic gameplay of this game is much more evolved than any RPG at this moment. Yes, i agree though that this still needs a trial for those who find 13 dollars too much. But on the other hand, if you are a fan of the genre, you don't need a trial!
  • Well ive deleted all my games bought a 4gb msd card, ive got 3.02gb space on my phone 3.82gb space on card and its still saying clear some space on my lumia820?? This is starting to do my head in???????
  • Not available in my country Indonesia :-( while the windows 8 version is available.
  • I give up, feel im missing out big time
  • Really addictive this one and well made
  • This is one massive game and doesn't use that much space , but if you are short of space just use the phone storage cleanup app it works great or if you have an updated Nokia use the storage check in settings