Saturday, February 2

Review: Tangledeep [Nintendo Switch eShop]


When it comes to indie RPGs on Switch there aren’t all that many choices, so when you see something with a classic 16-bit style reminiscent of the likes of The Secret of Mana and other notables it grabs your attention. Now, before you go too crazy with excitement it’s worth noting that this isn’t an action RPG but is instead a more turn-based affair. That said, with it sporting a load of character classes, a staggering number of things to do, and a generous degree of user control over the degree of challenge it can be a lot of fun… at least once you manage to take the time to understand it all.


Starting out your first critical choice will be how you want this all to go down. If you’re looking to just have some fun you’ll want to go with Adventure mode, where you’ll die but can continue to work with the same character. Moving up a notch to permadeath roguelike style there’s Heroic mode, which is tougher but at least will allow for some progression across your former characters. If you’re looking for pure aggravation there’s also then Hardcore, where on death the game will delete your save file even. Brutal, but I like the fact that in theory any kind of gamer can enjoy the experience the way they choose.


In terms of class customization there are also a load of options. You’ll choose between melee and ranged, physical and magical, and variants in between. You may need to take a few for a spin to see what suits you, with the key often being special abilities tied to each class that have some pretty varied effects. It’s these skills that make your stamina as much of a priority as keeping an eye on as your health. While your base attacks do some damage you’ll quickly get yourself into trouble in Tangledeep, and effective use of your skills is what will keep you alive. On top of the core game itself, where you’ll explore, loot, and try to stay alive there are also multiple types of dungeon challenges, pets, daily challenges, and more so if you’re into the core experience you’ll be able to get some serious miles out of it.


Where things aren’t so good I’d say primarily rests with the menus and interfaces. Obviously designed with PC gamers in mind, who have access to a keyboard and mouse, movement, navigation, and even the inventory screens take getting used to and calling them cumbersome would be generous. They do get the job done with some practice but not helping matters is perhaps having too many options. It’s overwhelming when you’re trying to get started and there’s simply a lot to take in. If you take it slow, experiment, and try things out you can begin to understand it all but though the game has a tutorial it feels like that only scratches the surface for the most part.


If you’re willing to put in the time and get accustomed to Tangledeep there’s a rewarding and unique experience to be had. I can’t say I’ve played anything quite like it on the Switch and the sheer variety of options available to you means a ton of longevity, you’ll just need to get over the hump before it clicks. If you don’t mind the turn-based pacing, and can show some patience it has a lot to offer.


Score: 7.5

Pros:
  • Options, options, options
  • Scalable difficulty that should allow anyone who’ll put in the time to enjoy the game the way they want to
  • Challenging roguelike gameplay with plenty to learn as you get better

Cons:
  • The PC-focused interface is cumbersome and quite overwhelming to navigate early on with a controller
  • There’s so much depth and so many things to wrap your head around it can be slow going at first
  • If you’re looking for something more dynamic in terms of the gameplay you’ll likely be let down by the turn-based play