Friday, June 22

Review: Alchemic Jousts [Nintendo Switch eShop]

One thing that the mobile space has done a good job with in the area of experimentation, taking simpler concepts and combining them in some new ways. One of my daughter’s favorite mobile games is Little Alchemy, a title where you start out with 4 base elements and then experiment with combining them in what becomes a massive number of ways to create new elements and eventually even creatures. It’s a great creative concept. Alchemic Jousts starts with that same base and melds it with a bit of strategic combat, providing a result that’s certainly new but that struggles to be very engaging overall.

Similar to games like Little Alchemy you’ll start with some basic elemental skills, which you’ll slowly use to combine and create new ones. Unlike those other games, where the emphasis is simply on that one hook and exploring, Jousts inserts a pretty basic rock-paper-scissors “battle” into the mix. While there are a variety of modes (and levels of difficulty) that will change up your focus and objectives you’re ultimately in a strategic chess game where you’ll need to work to counter your opponent both offensively and defensively to pull out the win. These match-ups will then provide you with what you’ll need to continue to explore and unlock newer skills which you can then use selectively to help yourself be more effective in future battles. This creates a somewhat rewarding loop where you’ll continue to make new discoveries and then experiment with different combinations to find how best to use them to your advantage.

Unfortunately, even with its provisions for variety in the nature of the battles you’ll engage in and the opportunity to discover over 180 different skills, it all ultimately feels about the same so the core loop really needs to be appealing to you to keep grinding through. I give credit to the developer for finding a new way to utilize the base alchemy game model and apply a new concept to it, all with some very cute animations and cool discoveries along the way, but even when you change up the battle modes with some variety their somewhat slow and methodical pacing can feel slow. Granted, there are times when you need to carefully consider what to deploy after your cooldown has expired to try to either defend yourself or try to get a leg up on your opponent, but on the whole the head-to-head portions end up involving quite a bit of waiting. However, if you don’t mind the very casual pace and enjoy relatively light strategy mixed with periodic opportunities for discovery you may find it appealing.

Score: 6.5

  • Very much something unique in the Switch library
  • Provides some strategic challenges in a variety of forms
  • Quite a lot to discover and experiment with

  • For all of the variety in battle modes the way they play out is ultimately very similar
  • The pacing can feel glacial at times
  • Doesn’t make a great case for needing to be played on Switch