Friday, August 3

Review: Guts and Glory [Nintendo Switch eShop]

Ahh, physics games… how you manage to simultaneously be funny and frustrating all at once. When implemented well, the weirdness of the controls in these games can work pretty well even when they make performing normally mundane tasks challenging. When implemented poorly, well, the laughs tend to evaporate in a hurry. Unfortunately on the whole Guts and Glory falls into the second category. Though it can shine through in some areas and with some specific characters, as a whole it kind of collapses onto itself as uncomfortably as its funky ragdoll physics characters do within the game itself.

The game really breaks down into a gauntlet of different types of challenges that you’ll need to complete with a variety of characters. These include people in or on bikes, motorcycles, cars, and even a propane fueled rocket lawn chair. After a brief introduction to any given area and style of play in general things will ramp up quickly and you’re going to have to demonstrate some skill to complete course, dodge lethal obstacles, and generally avoid death. This is where the tightrope walk of physics games and their controls come into play. While you’re never really supposed to be in full control if things get just wonky enough the laughs and fun just drop straight into aggravation.

Unfortunately, the one thing Guts and Glory seems to be the most consistent in is its inconsistency. You’ll likely find that you can manage well enough with some characters but there’ll be others you just want to throw your controller over from the get-go. One mistake I think was made was with the speed of the game though, since this greatly contributes to how unrefined and jerky the controls feel most of the time. The controls feel almost digital the majority of the time, with next to no nuance, but in many situations you really need to be able to make fine adjustments and it just isn’t going to happen. In an attempt to remedy this there’s a slowdown mechanic, and using this for a few seconds at a time does generally smooth things out and less aggravating. The sign of the mistake is that there’s not much of a cooldown on this ability and there’s no limit to how often you can use it. If they’d just split the difference in control and speed between the two I think much of the time there could be hope, but so much of the time you’re struggling to make even routine adjustments in your steering and it’s aggravating.

To make matters worse as often as you’ll manage to die or need to reset the fact that getting back into the action takes quite a bit of time really saps the energy out of things. A few seconds would be fine, but when you’re pushing double digit load times to go back and try again waiting becomes a pretty substantial part of your experience. Throw in periodic freezes and jitters and it gets to be a real mess.

While there is certainly enjoyment to be had with Guts and Glory there’s no getting around the fact that there are substantial obstacles in the way. If you’re persistent and enjoy silly physics games you’ll likely be able to latch onto a few people who you can enjoy playing through levels with. Myself, I was drawn to the low-tech PilotWings rocket chair madness offered by Larry. As a complete package, though, there are simply too many problems to make it worth recommending to most gamers.

Score: 5

  • Some people will enjoy playing with specific characters
  • It has its moments of silly fun, without question
  • Heavy use of the slowdown feature greatly improves control

  • With so much failure and dying, load times to start up again are a real bummer
  • Controls with some characters in some scenarios go beyond bad and into awful
  • There are periodic issues with hiccups, freezes, and overall jankiness