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Paws and Soul is an indie third-person narrative adventure that goads us to discover the cosmic connections between the life of a wolf and that of a man through karma and reincarnation. You step into the paws of a wolf and explore a dreamy magical world, look for clues, and follow the cookie-crumb trails of past conversations. The game promises a peaceful atmosphere devoid of combat or tough puzzles where you can breathe a sigh of relief and relax while looking at life and its journey from a completely different perspective.

Games like Journey, Dear Esther, What Remains of Edith Finch, and Firewatch have shown us the depth of narration that can be introduced into games that might otherwise be perceived only as walking sims. Paws and Soul is a walking simulator at its core, but is it a worthy successor to the greats of its genre? Let us find out!

Story & Narrative

You play as a wolf, who during the course of the game’s 3-4 hours-long campaign, breaks the fourth wall to narrate the story of the game. On your journey through a mystical world, you encounter ghostly memories of parents Mary and John, their son David and his wife Elizabeth, and another side-story involving a French woman Michelle and her partner Josué. Through key moments in the lives of these people, you piece together an overarching story that deals with some strong mature themes.

In the story of Mary and John, you come across themes such as the burden of expectations from a parent, disagreement regarding the right way to raise a child, and the aftermath of an ill-fated but expected fallout of a failed marriage. Their child David, who is one of the central characters of the game, has to face being sent to a private boarding school, confront bullies, and battle stereotypes of toxic masculinity. He starts dating Elizabeth from his school, whom he later goes to college with, and eventually marries. Their story centers around sacrifices, anxiety regarding life choices, the pursuit of career growth, marital discord stemming from the reluctance of having a child, and reconciliation. A small note of warning: the ending of the story is sudden and tinged with sadness.

Paws and Soul Paws and Soul

The bonus side story is that of Michelle – and the only one where you can choose to alter the flow of the story. Michelle goes through a lonely childhood, befriends her neighbor, adopts a puppy called Caramel, dates a cafe waiter named Josué, helps friends in her life, and stands up to bullying at her workplace.

The stories in Paws and Soul are quite straight forward, but their tones are erratic at times. Some story beats are even missable, if you do not explore all the nooks and crannies – this spoils the continuity. The story themes are serious, but their treatment is shallow and fleeting. Tragic events keep happening to the characters in the game, with small flashes of happiness. The elusive nature of human relationships is laid bare, but the game story sorely lacks the depth that is needed to help empathize with the characters.

Gameplay & Mechanics

The gameplay suffers heavily from clunky controls, crude animations, and an achingly slow traversal speed. The wolf and the ghost animations feel stiff, and the scale of the wolf compared to the ghost’s seem a little off. There is almost no feedback to movement – the jumping is floaty, and there is no perceptible impact on landing. The one good thing here was the auto-running, without which much of the game would have felt like a chore. The collision meshes of the game feel hastily implemented, as it leads to numerous clipping issues.

Paws and Soul Paws and Soul

The minimal HUD is welcome, although the inconsistent UI design in the world interactions can make you feel that the game is incomplete. For example, there are lots of glowing rune stones scattered throughout the levels, which by game logic might make you think they are interactable – well, they aren’t. Fireflies in a dimly lit forest – nope. Items that often attract your attention are plain window dressing. Beautiful glades give way to icy tundras and sweltering hot deserts – the biomes change frequently, but have no connection with the story.

You sometimes get prompts to dig up or howl at crystals – but what do they do? Boring empty caves act as conduits to other levels and offbeat tracks often end up in a clearing with absolutely nothing. The world boundaries are erratic and whimsical – you never know when the wolf will turn around by itself and tell you for the umpteenth time that that way is definitely wrong. One of the highlights of the game, the butterfly abilities, are sparsely used. Floating and glowing butterflies often give you timed powers like a higher jump, sight through illusions, and super speed. I liked the mini-puzzles – but those too were underutilized. By the end, you will be left wondering – how can a game with so much potential get dragged down by these absurd design choices?

Visuals, Performance & Sound

Paws and Soul was made on the Unreal Engine. It has a quaint yet good art style with low poly graphics. The game has some aesthetically pleasing piano music tracks, but they go away at times, and I didn’t find any connection with the story pacing. There is also the case of a strange whistling environmental sound in some of the levels – not finding the source of it left me puzzled. One more department that needs to be worked on by the devs is the voice acting – it ranges from overenthusiastic to completely listless at times. There were some minor FPS hiccups in a few levels, but they will most probably be fixed in the release build.

Paws and Soul Paws and Soul


Paws and Soul is a soulless walking simulator that deliberately avoids leaning on its positive game aspects that work and instead runs after a tired narrative in an empty world.

Disclaimer: PC (Steam) review copy provided by the developers with no riders.

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