Thursday, November 8

Review: Varion [Nintendo Switch eShop]


Since the Switch has been so successfully positioned as a great system to herald in the return to couch co-op gaming there have been quite a number of varied multiplayer offerings on the system to date. Due to this fact, coming up with something that feels distinct and delivers a good time can be quite a challenge. The latest title coming to the bat is the slick and neon-tinged Varion, and thankfully its creative take on a local multiplayer shooter shines quite brightly indeed.


The central hook is a simple one, but changes up the typical formula quite dramatically. While your varied crafts you can choose from cosmetically are each able to shoot at one another, direct hits won’t score you points here. In order to blow up your opposition you’ll instead for forced to ricochet your shots off of the walls. While in many games ricochets could happen they were typically an afterthought, something you may be able to luck into but your focus was usually on hitting people directly. The shift to banked shots being your only method makes for some more interesting tactics though, at times including simply rushing an aggressive opponent since that actually can make you harder to successfully kill.


There’s no doubt this is more ideally played with up to 3 friends but when I played with bots they tended to be pretty competent without typically being cheap, which is nice. There are a variety of power-ups that work both offensively and defensively to help tempt people toward predictable spots but grabbing them can definitely give you an advantage. I really appreciate the mix in the game configuration between pre-set modes and the ability to tweak and customize a bit as well. Restricting or expanding the number of bounces shots will have before dissipating is a great example of a setting that can drastically affect how a round is played so this and other settings that allow for fine-tuning are very much appreciated.


If the typical local multiplayer shooting fare has seemed to get a being tired and dull I’d tend to agree, the genre has been in a bit of a cookie cutter rut on the whole for a while. Varion is a breath of fresh air and not only looks pretty fantastic, it also changes up just enough to help it stand out in the gameplay department as well. So the next time you’re searching for something a bit different to play against some friends when you get together it’s well worth a look.


Score: 8

Pros:
  • Anything with that neon-lit TRON aesthetic always grabs my attention
  • The seemingly simple rule that direct shots won’t do damage significantly alters the normal strategy for this sort of game
  • Some smart power-ups and an ability to tune the rules to your liking is much appreciated

Cons:
  • While the bots do a decent job of putting up a fight this is really a game meant to be experienced with some friends or family
  • Ultimately though it does an admirable job of setting itself apart from the competition the mileage of the game is heavily dependent on tastes and too much play at once may well burn people out since there’s not a massive amount of variety in it