SOOT is a terraforming simulation developed by Ceiba Software and Arts and published by Badland Publishing. I should disclaim that I was only able to play soot until the end of the first chapter which was about 2 hours. I got too bored to continue, so this review is based on what I’ve experienced during the first chapter of the game.
SOOT’s progression is split between the comic book style cut scenes and the terraforming missions on different planets. Core gameplay loop consists of going to different planets and constructing buildings on them to mine or create or ship resources. There is a balance you need to keep between the 7 chemical components while building things which is where SOOT turns into more of a puzzle and strategy game.
If I’m being honest, most of my time while playing SOOT was spent looking at numbers. The game gives you objectives to finish levels, some examples of those objectives are; get oxygen numbers above 8000, refine 5000 ore, ship 2000 raw ore, get carbon levels below 5000, etc. During my playtime I would spend about 2-3 minutes setting up the planet to generate the resources needed to complete the quest and then for the remaining 15 minutes, I just waited for numbers to go up or down. While the core systems are quite solid and the levels could have been a lot more fun to play, they aren’t. Objectives are too boring, and every level feels the same regardless of the planet.
There was one specific level which had a time limit. And it was the only level I needed to plan and strategize in, which made the level actually fun. If more levels were centered towards obstacles and time limits which restricted you, the game would have been a lot more enjoyable.
There are also 2 other sections of gameplay that occur during story moments. These are simple puzzles to keep the player engaged between terraforming levels. While one of those puzzle sections felt unintuitive the other felt underdeveloped and just put there to add variety.
The game has a futuristic steampunk setting and environmentalist overtones. I liked both of those things therefore I was more interested in the story parts. Our protagonist Doctor Mackenzie finds Commander Mason’s mission logs and we play through Mason’s missions replaying his memories of them. It was interesting to follow Commander Mason’s logs and progress Doctor Mackenzie’s story at the same time. However, there were a couple of times where I found sentences that just didn’t make any sense. But overall SOOT’s story was engaging enough to keep me playing the game.
The graphics and artwork is pretty good. I liked how characters, buildings and planets looked. My favorite part was planets going from green to brown as I terraformed on them. The animations from the buildings and planets are nothing special, but they don’t look weird even when sped up.
I had no frame rate problems or glitches during my playtime which is always a positive. Soundtrack and sound effects didn’t strike me as anything special but they also didn’t sound out of place or unfit.
The biggest mistake SOOT makes seems to be level design. While it had a nice concept and solid core mechanics, they failed to execute their ideas properly through their levels. But once again I should say that I only played the first chapter, therefore if the game and levels changed significantly during chapter 2 and 3, I wouldn’t know.