Saturday, January 12

Review: Samsara Deluxe [Nintendo Switch eShop]

At this stage in the Switch’s lifespan it may still feel early but in a number of genres the console already has some deep and quality representation is many genres. Unfortunately this means that competing for eyeballs and dollars continues to get trickier and in order to make a splash it continues to take a bit more effort. While there’s nothing particularly wrong with Samsara Deluxe, a relatively subdued and charming puzzler that will challenge you to think carefully about how you place various blocks to progress, it’s also a pretty vanilla overall experience. If you’re thirsting for a twist of creativity that’s not terribly taxing it may suit you, just there are plenty of other puzzlers that are a bit more interesting out there.

You’ll play the game trying to help a young boy get a portal on every level. To help him get there you’ll need to carefully place blocks of various kinds, most are just steps of of some sort, in the right configuration to help him get there. The trick initially is just that if you place the block below the horizon you’ll put them in a sort of shadow realm and an inverse version of it will be represented in a usable but ghostly form on the top. Further in you’ll also have a shadow version of the boy to manage, as well as various portals, which further complicate the formula though the base mechanic is always roughly the same.

To Samsara’s credit you’ll have to be a bit creative with how you apply the rules to get through some puzzles. Steps can work in two different directions and sometimes you just want to use their flat sides. Perhaps the trickiest part is that you drop the pieces in the negative space and they’ll end up in the same horizontal position on the top but perhaps not in the same vertical one. There are some puzzles where I found it to be a bit aggravating that you can’t simply drop down a small level, somehow that will cause the boy to fall through everything and you’ll fail, but you do get over it.

In the end I’d definitely say you should give the video a look to see if the style of play suits you. It’s methodical and can throw you a challenge but between the ordinary presentation and how fundamentally basic the gameplay mechanics are it’s hardly a must-play experience either. In an eShop full of intriguing puzzle games many flavors Samsara Deluxe may be unique but it still struggles with just being very average.

Score: 6.5

  • Clean, though simple, presentation
  • Conceptually the style of play is unique on Switch

  • There’s nothing about it that screams “must play” in a crowded puzzle genre on the eShop
  • While new elements get introduced over the course of the levels it never really takes off to the next level in terms of interest