You'd be forgiven for thinking Soft Body is a very unambitious game at first glance. The simple 2D graphics give the impression of a simple Flash game, however upon digging deeper we found that it's incredibly ambitious in its attempt to bring two genres together as one.
Soft Body blends the action/puzzle genre with a twin-stick shooter as you take control of a yellow snake and a red “ghost" snake in an attempt to paint the surrounding world. As you paint, the surroundings change, and you're faced with obstacles such as enemies shooting projectiles, which can be carefully avoided by using the painted surfaces as shields. Each level generally contains a number of smaller objectives as well.
Things get much trickier when the game introduces the twin-stick element. At times it's necessary to attach the two snakes together to solve a puzzle, while at other times you'll need to take control of them individually with the thumb-sticks to solve puzzles simultaneously.
The majority of Soft Body's puzzles are a test of your peripheral vision, hand-eye-coordination, and your ability to control the left and right thumb-sticks at the same time. As a result, you'll find yourself being blind-sided by enemies and dying quite often, however immediately pressing X will restart the level right away, which we found convenient. Deaths never feel cheap throughout the game, as you'll almost always be to blame for any mistakes, and many times dying will actually help you better understand the puzzle at hand.
For a puzzle game, the action gets quite chaotic at times, and it leads to some spectacular moments of narrowly dodging what should have been a death. Despite this, the game manages to still maintain an air of calmness and serenity through its soundtrack and ever-changing visuals.
That said, levels are split into two modes, and you can really ramp up the intensity by opting for the more difficult Hard Game over the easier Soft Game. The latter is divided into three chapters with 36 levels in total and is actually quite easy the whole way through. You will need to rack your brains on occasion, but we mostly breezed through this mode.
Hard Game, on the other hand, contains 25 levels of sadistic torture. While Soft Game levels experiment with twin-stick puzzles, Hard Game takes it to a whole other level. These levels will test your limits and at times will break your brain with the ridiculous amounts of co-ordination, concentration, and peripheral vision required to succeed. In fact, some of the hardest levels start to feel like they're impossible to beat unless you're ambidextrous and have two sets of eyes. If that's not enough, there are also New Game Plus modes to unlock for both Soft Game and Hard Game to make things even harder. It's here that the game overdoes the difficulty and borders on frustration – especially considering that you'll need to replay certain sequences.
While Soft Body initially strikes a nice balance of difficulty, the later levels become far too complex, which is a serious problem as being able to solve these puzzles comes down to your physical attributes. Without the necessary reflexes or hand-eye co-ordination, there's no possible way for you to progress through these levels, even if you understand what you're doing wrong and what you need to do to solve it. Fortunately, we found the game's first set of levels to be a very enjoyable challenge and a unique spin on the puzzle genre.