Friday, March 1

Review: Riddled Corpses EX [Nintendo Switch eShop]

As you may have observed, and I’ve likely mentioned just a few times, I’m a huge fan of twin-stick arcade shooters and the Switch has been a terrific platform for enjoying that genre to date. When releasing such a game on the platform the challenge now is in trying to stand out, providing some new hook to grab or keep attention on your title instead of one the others. In the case of Riddled Corpses EX the choice seems to have steered in the direction of everything being pretty large, making it quite handheld friendly, and pixel art zombies… not a bad combination.

Your goal in the game, I suppose obviously, is to mow down zombies, grab power-ups and gold, and try to last as long as you can. For the most part you’ll tend to move slowly through an environment (the streets, the desert, and possibly some corner of Hell, among others) and then stop for an extended wave of attacks, moving on once you’ve cleared through the threat. In general you’ll want to be sure to shoot and destroy any objects you see, whether that’s oil drums, cars, or anything else that you think could be explosive. These will ignite and zombies nearby and help move things along nicely, usually helping you get your combo meter going as well.

To the game’s credit the ability to choose your mode may, to me, be what helps make it more likely worthwhile to people with different tastes. The ability to upgrade your character in Story Mode by using gold you accumulate in your runs may appeal to some people since it allows you to slowly make your character more and more powerful, which then makes the game easier so you can get further. In some ways I think it’s a bit cheap that the Survival mode also uses these characters though since it makes how long you’re able to last partially a function of how much grinding you’ve done to juice up your character’s base firepower, a bit of a cop-out. Thank god for Arcade mode which instead has you start from the ground floor each time and slowly levels and powers you up as you go (though the need to grab an item that places itself randomly to level up can be a bit annoying at times).

In addition to my concerns with the game not being very well-balanced at its core and being overly reliant on people grinding to buy their future success there are some other quibbles I have. With everything being so big and chunky (again, though, this is great in handheld mode) there’s a tendency for the action to get a bit muddled visually with things starting to overlap. While it isn’t a constant problem it does have a tendency to lead to surprises at times as you struggle to see everything going on or coming at you clearly, especially when you have pretty large bosses on the screen and a lot going on. Power-ups and gold that end up just on the edge of the screen or even slightly off-screen can also be annoying since they’re not only tough to see but you’re also then vulnerable to enemies who happen to be just out of sight as well.

In the end, I’m a bit torn on this title. If you play mostly in handheld mode I think it’s more worthwhile since not all titles in the genre are as well-suited to play on the go as this one. That said, I’m not a fan of the fact that you’re pretty literally grinding and buying your way to easier play over time or new characters, giving it an almost mobile game feel but without the option to purchase upgrades with real money. If you’re looking for something to invest time into and don’t mind the grinding you may well consider this method somewhat of a plus though as well. The game has some merits, and is certainly challenging, but you’ll need to look at it through the lens of what you’re looking for to determine if it’s a match for you.

Score: 7

  • The action is big and chunky, making it well-suited to portable play
  • An option to go for a more traditional style of play in Arcade mode versus a grind-and-unlock system in Story and Survival modes
  • Mechanically everything is smooth and sound and explosive objects in many areas can make for some strategy and fun

  • Runs can get pretty repetitive relatively quickly
  • The need to grind quite a bit to get new characters or simply boost the power of the character you’re using to help last a little longer can get irksome
  • With the chunkiness of everything on-screen there are times when the screen gets a bit too full and the action gets muddled