The Soulsborne franchise contains some of my favorite games of all time. FromSoftware's masterpieces really clicked with me back in the days of Demon's Souls and truly cemented themselves as favorites with the release of Dark Souls and Bloodborne. And Dark Souls III is my most-played of the bunch because I adore it so.
Why am I telling you this? Because our game this week is billed as a Souls-like for Android. Featuring third-person action and combat, a battle system focused on stamina management, and a sometimes brutal difficulty, Pascal's Wager is perhaps the closest we'll see of a Dark Souls/Bloodborne-like game on Android. Animus also comes to mind, and maybe we'll talk about that series in a different week.
First things first: this isn't Dark Souls on Android. It lacks the finesse, the incredible and obtuse storytelling, and excellent voice acting of the Soulsborne series. Pascal's Wager is an admirable attempt at mimicry, but it ultimately fails to live up to the grandeur it so desperately seeks.
However! It scratches the brutal action RPG itch, and it's a pretty good game in its own right. Not only does it tell an interesting story, but it provides a fun journey along the way. Though things are a bit on the nose for a Souls-like, Pascal's Wager is intriguing with some good lore, and I found myself wanting to learn more, even with the exposition dumps. I think the plot would be an excellent book that I would happily read.
Where Pascal's Wager slumps is in the voice acting. My god, it's bad, like 90s English dubbed anime bad. The actors place emphasis in the wrong places, utterly fail to inflect appropriately, and sound so dead inside that I cringe during the cutscenes. If money weren't an object, I would strongly advise the developers to re-cast and re-record the whole thing. If anything is going to put you off of this game, it's this.
But the combat is very good and immensely satisfying. Pascal's Wager does a nice job of rewarding your skill and perseverance, a key part of the Souls-like formula. Too often, people think it's the difficulty that makes a Souls-like, but I would argue there's a whole lot more to it. But I digress.
You will play as four different characters, each with their own weapons, movesets, and strengths/weaknesses. You can switch on the fly outside of combat, and it really adds some nice diversity to the game. Contrast this with your singular character in Soulsborne, often locked into the build you've chosen, and you can see why some might find this interesting. It actually reminded me of Mortal Shell's different shells you can swap between. It's cool.
So, Pascal's Wager isn't Dark Souls for Android. It's definitely a Souls-like, however, and one I found to be really enjoyable. Although, be warned: use a controller. The touchscreen controls are fine, but the game is too brutal and unforgiving to deal with them. You will fail unnecessarily if you try.
And that's Pascal's Wager, a name I don't find all that fitting for the story it tells. But whether Souls-likes aren't your cup of tea or you're looking for other games to play on your phone, we've got you covered with a big roundup of the best Android games. And if you're interested in past Game of the Week entries, we've got plenty for you to check out.
Game of the Week
A mobile Souls-like
Billed as a Souls-like for Android, Pascal's Wager certainly delivers. It might lack many of the things that make Dark Souls great, but it succeeds in most of the right places. That voice acting, though.
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