Anime JRPG Review Strategy

Soul Nomad – Review | Prinny Presents NIS Classics Vol. 1

I’ve played an awful lot of NIS titles. They were pivotal parts of my childhood and, yeah, I played practically all of them. Soul Nomad & The World Eaters is one of the very few games that I haven’t dabbled in (until now), so I was quite excited to see what interesting systems and mechanics were jigged and altered from a standard NIS entry. I wasn’t very impressed.

Kinda Shoddy

From the get-go, let’s talk about the port. The port sucks. This is the second half of the NIS Collection Volume 1, and it is easily the lesser of the two games and NIS thought so too. Why do I say this? They did nothing with this game. At all, from what I can tell. This is a PlayStation 2 game, with the bare minimum graphical enhancements and zero quality of life improvements. The game looks hideous, at all times. It has a disgusting blur on everything from maps to characters, and it was honestly fairly painful to sit through – at least on the TV. It looks substantially better on handheld. But still, old eyes are not designed to endure imagery this blurry. Quality of life issues start and end with game speed and animation canceling – neither of which exist making Soul Nomad painfully slow to play.

Now that that’s out of the way, let’s talk about the actual game. The world was ravaged by a nefarious “god” called Gig and his legion of World Eaters. World Eaters are leviathanic monstrosities that can destroy entire cities in a single attack for the record. Gig is killed, trapped in a sword, and then left to rot for about 200 years. The sword is given to you, Gig becomes your personal satan and you have to go on a jolly jaunt to save the world. 

For what it’s worth, the story in Soul Nomad is pretty good. It manages to balance the seriousness of the game’s tone and themes with the comedic elements in a way that, whilst not on the level of Phantom Brave, certainly felt well-executed. My biggest gripe is that there is too much of it. As much as I enjoy a good story, I play these games for the gameplay, and when there are endless cutscenes expositing plot details between every battle, it got tiring. The story isn’t bad, but it isn’t good enough to carry this much weight.

Soul Nomad - Magic Circle

Gameplay Doesn’t Save It

Unfortunately, the gameplay isn’t all that fantastic either. It initially showed some promise, but it quickly lost a lot of its momentum and ended up feeling rather enervating. Your main character is the focal point of every battle. If they die, it’s game over. Thankfully you aren’t alone. In Soul Nomad, you control squads. Each squad is composed of 1 or more characters. Your main squad summons in additional squads at the start of the game, although this has a monetary cost for doing so. 

In terms of in-battle mechanics, a squad can move and typically perform one action. This could be attacking, attacking with a special finisher, or using tactics to buff stats. You can also use items that have all manner of funky effects once you dig into them a bit. It just all feels bland. There’s very little in terms of strategic depth here. You just move and hit things. There are no flanking bonuses, or benefits for teaming with other squads – it’s all so…boring. You move and watch an animation play out of things dying, then repeat.

Whilst the port lacks any game speed enhancements, Soul Nomad does allow you to skip the lengthy battle animations and replace them with short variants. This is nice, but that isn’t the real issue with the combat pacing. There are a lot of enemies in any given stage of Soul Nomad. Watching as 15 enemies all slowly take their turns moving around the shockingly large battle maps is time that could be spent doing literally anything else. There’s not much going on here, and when that tiny morsel of fun is obfuscated by layer upon layer of tedium, it doesn’t exactly make for a recommendable ride.

Soul Nomad - Combat

Interconnecting Mechanics Don’t Do It Either

Outside of combat, the game is equally tedious. Building squads is way more hassle than it’s worth. Squads need to be assigned to Rooms, and Rooms are entirely random. Your squad formation, squad bonuses, and the number of characters who can join a squad are all down to a dice roll. Why you can’t just pick the room you want and fine-tune your army to your specifications is beyond me, but here we are. 

There are three locations characters can be placed in a room, Front, Middle, or Back. Each class has a different attack based on location, so there is some strategy involved in unit placement. I found very little reason to have unique squads though. For most of my playtime, I stuck to recycling the same formations over, and over, because they were effective, both in terms of combat and cost. The game doesn’t really encourage you to experiment, and, if I’m being honest, doesn’t do enough to explain the system all that well. 

So when I wasn’t bored experiencing the story, I was bored playing through the missions, or bored waiting for a specific room to appear so I could put a boring squad together. I got the distinct feeling that Soul Nomad was trying to seem like it has more going for it than it really had. I lost interest after a couple of hours, and then it became a slog from then on. You can, at least, go through the grinding motions that permeate most of NIS’s work. You can generate a dungeon within a Room and go kill the inhabitants. This makes your Room better and provides you with exp, money, etc.

Making Thing Look Pretty

You can also find decorations. Decorations can adorn your Rooms and provide powerful buffs to your squad. Not interacting with this system, in particular, will make your life a living hell as not increasing your character’s stats makes them feel like a soggy bog roll. Like everything though, it felt very by the numbers. More powerful decorations do have some pretty interesting effects, but these are not easily obtainable without using a guide or having preexisting knowledge of the game. 

Soul Nomad, as I eluded to earlier, is also bloody ugly. I imagine in its heyday, the game looks quite the part. Animations in particular are flashy and energetic and the sprites are clearly well made. It’s all too blurry though, and the battle maps don’t help matters. They are literally just blurry, top-down maps you might find in a Dungeons and Dragons sesh or a grid-based board game. They look terrible and drag the game’s visuals even further down the ladder.

Voice acting and music is your typical NIS affair, by which I mean it’s pretty good. The OST has everything from traditional NIS whimsy, to zany jazz to more emotive and epic pieces. It does the job well and is supported by mostly great voice acting. Gig grated on me a little bit, but other than that, I don’t have many complaints.


Overall, Soul Nomad & The World Eaters kind of sucks. Visually it’s an eyesore, narratively it’s a slog, and gameplay-wise it’s boring. What is here is just underwhelming from every angle, and the shoddy port does it absolutely no favors. This just isn’t worth your time.


Platforms: Nintendo Switch

If you would like to see more Strategy games, you may be interested in our review of Disgaea 6. Or of course, you can find our review of Phantom Brave which comes paired with this in NIS Collection Volume One.

Many thanks go to NIS America for a Nintendo Switch review code for this title.

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