Wednesday, April 24

Review: Vandals [Nintendo Switch eShop]

It’s hard not to have mixed feelings with transplants from the mobile space sometimes. While there are great games that play well on a tablet or phone that also then translate wonderfully to the Switch and justify their presence there are others who don’t. Whether it’s a function of them playing poorly with a physical controller (some not at all) or that there’s just not enough meat on their bones to feel like they belong on a dedicated game system it just doesn’t always work out.

In the case of Vandals we have a title with pretty pretty cool presentation layered onto what amounts to a relatively generic puzzler with a unique artistic hook of sorts. You’ll play as a kid armed with some spray paint looking to make his mark (literally) in different city locales. The problem? There are cops on patrol who are in the way. The key is in getting their attention to divert them from where you want to go, which can be done by whistling or throwing an object somewhere to distract them, and then sneaking around a way they can’t go like through a fence. In order to complete the stage you also will need to put up some art, with an option to get to a starred spot for an additional bit of challenge.

When it comes to issues first and foremost the controller support is so sketchy that I would have rather they didn’t include it at all. While you’d think the pointer controls to paint would be the killer it’s actually the simple act of moving around that was amazingly aggravating. I don’t know what’s going on with the delay and how wonky it ended up being but when not using the touchscreen the game is pretty well unplayable. Even using touch controls in handheld mode the delay in movement can be annoying, as it wastes time and can result in you making unnecessary mistakes at times if you get impatient. Also, while initially making some spray paint art is novel I suppose very quickly it’s just another obstacle to getting things done and I’d just make a squiggle to move on.

Overall Vandals has a solid look but not much else exciting going for it. The puzzles are nice but not revolutionary by any means and both the issues with controls and delays are core issues with fundamentals that can’t be brushed aside. Additionally, if you really enjoy making spray paint art enough that it thrills you on every level you could simply work in a paint program and knock yourself out. Vandals just struggles to make a strong impression and is weighed down by more problems than positives.

Score: 4.5

  • Looks pretty good
  • If you’re really into making pictures in spray paint it has you covered

  • Playing in docked mode is painful in terms of the controls, and the delay in movement as a whole is annoying
  • For the most part the puzzling feels very generic
  • After you’ve spray painted your third wall or so the novelty of that on every level wears thin quickly