Ultra-Indie Spotlight Sunday: Symphony Of Seven Souls – Symphony For The Devil
Symphony of Seven Souls is the story of a musician. One who is so determined to make beautiful music that mere mortals cannot inspire the sounds they need. Without anywhere else to turn, our hero seeks out help from the only sensible place left; from the spirits who are left wandering the world. Walking through the dark streets, you must find and perform for seven souls in order to gain their help in creating the best, and probably most blasphemous, symphony orchestra.
There’s a preconceived notion about video games with ghosts. In video games, we generally assume (often correctly) that the phantasms are antagonistic to whatever we are doing (activities such as defiling crypts, breaking and entering into old mansions, conducting profane rituals, etc). So when a game about souls from the great beyond does not involve fleeing from them or sucking them into a magic vacuum, the title sticks out among the rest.
Developer Chris Evry, known also as Katanalevy Games, is a master of the gruesome and the gothic. He’s created perhaps the most gothic game of all time, Symphony of Seven Souls, which is about playing the violin as you walk around PSX of Bloodborne’s Old Yharnam. Rather than the spirits haunting this seemingly abandoned city being your enemy, your mission is to delight them with your beautiful violin music, enchanting them into joining your orchestra.
Non-Wanky Game Recap:
Symphony of Seven Souls is a traditional first-person walking game. But where other similar titles would have you collecting various doodads and keys, this game has you playing a violin. And very well, I might add. Hold left click to hold up the bow, right click to play. You may stop and start at your leisure, but I found myself playing continuously throughout. Other than that, Symphony of Seven Souls is a game about looking around for ghosts to join your band.
For one thing, the aesthetic is top notch. Symphony of Seven Souls is reminiscent of Katanalevy’s previous Ultra-Indie Spotlight Sunday’d game, Daemonologie. With an extremely dark and gothic setting, premise, and of course, hauntingly beautiful violin music, SoSS creates a tremendous atmosphere that kept me both fascinated and on edge.
On top of that, Symphony of Seven Souls seems to be a new take on the ghost story genre. Not even ghost-infatuated paranormal hunters on those ridiculous shows can create such a noble goal as wanting music so beautiful that the protagonist is willing to go beyond death to create it. While undead bands are probably not a new concept (yes, I know about Hollywood Undead and The Zombies), communing with the spirits through music is creative and fascinating.
It’s not until the very last part of the game where something unsettling happens. While Symphony of Seven Souls has a tremendous atmosphere that kept me on edge, I did understand that there wasn’t actually anything dangerous out there. Sure, there were ghosts about, but they mostly just stood around waiting for you to play your tune. This took a bit away from the stress, but then, maybe that’s just not the point of this game.
How To Fix It:
Since adding in a goblin or ghoul to chase you around while you fiddle your fiddle would be out of place, I have one other suggestion that could amp up the horror in Symphony of Seven Souls. Seeing how core to the game the music is, I might incorporate some spookier tunes as you progress. After all, it is about recruiting the deceased into your symphony. Why not make your violin sound ghostly as well.
What makes this game so interesting is not only that Chris Evry is so skilled at making the most gothic imaginable settings. Symphony of Seven Souls reimagines the relationship between two aspects of a horror trope. What sort of connection could a player have to a ghost that is not fight or fright? Certainly I struggle to think of any, but inviting to your band is without a doubt one of the most novel ghost story ideas I’ve seen in recent memory.
Download Symphony of Seven Souls for free on itch.io by clicking here.