Saturday, May 25

Review: Back In 1995 [Nintendo Switch eShop]

With indie games first impressions can be everything, the hook that pulls you in and gets you invested in the experience as quickly as possible. Sadly, not all games seem to have a great understanding of this, or perhaps count on some sort of nostalgia for past titles that they’re emulating to carry your interest. That’s very much the case for Back In 1995, a title that’s obviously looking to tap into the love people feel for the likes of the original Resident Evil, Silent Hill, or perhaps Alone in the Dark titles. The problem is, the lack of personality, problems that were once technical limitations but now just feel like lazy design, and overall awfulness just permeate the experience.

You’ll play as Kent, who is trying to reach a radio tower that’s somewhat far away in a post-apocalyptic city. To get there you’ll need to do some exploring, kill some monsters, manage your inventory, and more often than not be a bit bored and frustrated. In the classic Resident Evil you were a bit on edge and I don’t think anyone will forget the early game when jump scares and sudden surprises effectively got you engaged. Here, you’ll start by meandering around non-descript corridors of pretty well empty rooms where you’ll run into what I can only describe as floating turd monsters. It doesn’t exactly strike fear into your heart so much as make you perhaps let out a surprised laugh.

It feels like this game is looking to emulate the general look of the time and took every shortcut that offered (tank controls, low poly objects, muddy and awful textures, fixed camera angles) but then didn’t invest in making it at all compelling. Resident Evil and other classics were pushing the limits of their technology to tell a story so they made the most of what they had, this is instead aiming down visually and then has no real signs of passion or care to make the experience scary, fun, or remotely interesting. If you’re jonesing for the old days break out a classic system or perhaps an emulator and immerse yourself in those titles you loved directly, this is just a shell that looks like those experiences but is pretty hollow inside.

Score: 4.5

  • If you love tank controls, this has them!
  • Feeling like modern games with all of their details stink? Take a time warp back to earlier low-poly days

  • Visually this captures all of the limitations of some classic survival horror titles but none of their charms
  • “Monsters” that exhibit weak AI and aren’t scary in any way