Thursday, February 21

Review: Rotating Brave [Nintendo Switch eShop]

The marriage of the portable versatility of the Switch and the indie community has produced some interesting results no doubt, but I’m not sure I’ve ever played anything as unusual as Rotating Brave. Credit to the developer for absolutely “going for it” the basics of the gameplay are approachable and have many similarities to the recently-released Downwell in many regards. However, it absolutely has a hook going for it that helps it stand apart from everything else.

As you progress through stages one demand is that you rotate your Switch, turning it 90 degrees at a time, to change the feel of play from being vertical to horizontal. Granted, this helps the play get stale less quickly as trying to fight gravity constantly as you’re essentially falling (well, or climbing) to progress is quite different from scrolling side to side and taking out enemies in a more traditional way. Rather than having a gun or a simple forward slash though, your character lives up to the title with a spinning attack that gives the combat a pretty different feel, especially since it is key to you trying to slow and control your fall.

As you progress through levels you’ll occasionally see openings you can go into that will either represent a chance to see memories which will slightly heal you or hit a shop where you can use the crystals you’ve accumulated. Upgrades in the game vary pretty wildly in their effects and aside from their core cost you’ll need to be mindful that some of them also come with downsides like diminished attack energy. In particular I found the one that exploded enemy corpses to be useful though in the side-scrolling orientation it wasn’t typically as handy as in vertical. As you play and accumulate more general experience you’ll gain a different sort of orb-based currency you can use to start yourself off with perks, which can be helpful, and you’ll also unlock new and more powerful skill attacks which you can only use once they’ve charged up.

Of course this need to rotate your Switch presents some real problems as playing it almost requires a stand that isn’t set too far from you where you’re able to keep up with changing which way it’s situated. Another issue is that with your spinning attack being the only way to dispatch enemies (no jumping on them) and the way it works you’ll find you’re pretty vulnerable at times, especially when enemies are right on top of you. There’s a perk that lets you attack as you jump that can be helpful with this but it can make for some frustrations when you struggle or get hit by a close enemy just because your attacks are powerful but can feel a bit clumsy in certain situations.

In the end I applaud the effort here, as Rotating Brave absolutely has a feel and hook all its own.That said, I would very much exercise caution when considering it since playing it on the go or in docked mode aren’t great options. In order to really experience and enjoy the title will take a bit of work, and that’s a hard obstacle to ignore, but be assured that if you want to try out an action roguelike that’s simply a bit different it can be worth the trouble.

Score: 6

  • This is a game that could only really work on the portable and versatile Switch
  • Offers up a challenge and variety with its perk system, making individual runs often feel quite different
  • Moving from falling to side-scrolling to jumping up keeps the style of play fluid

  • Not being able to realistically play the game without having it on a dedicated stand of some sort with the JoyCon detached isn’t likely ideal for everyone
  • The nature of your attack can make you annoyingly vulnerable to enemies who get close to you and this can be aggravating at times