Monday, July 8

Mini Reviews: July 8th Edition [Nintendo Switch eShop]

With quite a lot going on at the moment I’ve had to pull back the time I’ve been putting into playing and evaluating all of the games that come my way. I’ll always post gameplay of the titles I get but while I don’t feel comfortable committing to full reviews for titles I do want to at least summarize my thoughts on them. So these are the quick summaries on my thoughts on games I’ve played, highlighting the ones that are stand-outs when appropriate.

Slay the Spire [Nindie Choice!] - While deck building games would usually fall into the category of titles I’d file under “an acquired taste” the Switch now has 2 rock solid titles with that style of play that have proven mainstream friendly this year. While SteamWorld Quest went more story-driven and static though, Slay the Spire very much embraces a roguelike approach instead that keeps it challenging and surprising across many attempts you’ll make with its heroes that each have a very different style. There’s definitely a learning curve here, as you’ll need to experiment with different combinations of cards to work out which synergize the most effectively together and which you’re better off without. For true roguelike or strategy fans this is absolutely a title you won’t want to miss out on, it easily lives up to the positive buzz it has been receiving.

War Tech Fighters [Nindie Choice!] - While there have been a few big robots battling in space games on Switch to date none of them have quite clicked for me. Though War Tech Fighters takes a little getting used to it’s the first that has put the overall package together in a way that’s compelling, if perhaps a bit repetitive. Strangely one of the elements that made me a believer is the use of the somewhat cinematic finishers that you can use to dispatch your enemies once their health is sufficiently low. You have a small boost to incentivize you doing them and thankfully the wealth of ways your mech will finish off enemies manages to make it fun, even if it ends up stilting the flow of gameplay. While it may lean more heavily on popcorn fun than some may prefer, a bevvy of upgrade options and a sense of flair help it to climb to the top of the genre heap on Switch.

Graveyard Keeper - Ever since the release and massive success of Stardew Valley I’ve been waiting to see what games it would inspire. Surprisingly, there really haven’t been many to date but now we have Graveyard Keeper stepping up to the plate. Certainly the elevator pitch for the game would be “Stardew Valley but with a morbid sense of humor” and that would be an accurate assessment on the surface. Dig a little deeper and spend some time with it though and there are some clear differences beyond just the gallows humor. Functionally many of the tasks and general routines are very similar, with you needing to explore, learn skills, acquire equipment through purchase or crafting, and make friends. Where Keeper comes up short is that it isn’t as structured and well crafted. Progress is slow, quest goals tend to string together too many tasks, and on a general level the game feels a bit more like a refined rough draft than a carefully composed and polished masterpiece. There’s no doubt fun to be had here, it can just be a lot of squeeze at times for not quite enough juice.

Red Faction Guerrilla Re-Mars-tered - If you’re seeking third-person shooting action with a healthy dose of destructions peppered in while this title may show its overall age it can still offer up some fun. Since it includes all of the game’s original DLC there’s a plentiful amount of content to work your way through, the question is whether what often feels like generic gunplay will sustain your interest throughout. Your missions will keep things moving with the best often being those that demand you wreck buildings using a number of means but repetition will still slowly set in. In part you can blame that on the sparse martian environments you’ll be working through which lack in distinction so mentally it all begins to meld together. Still, it has just enough to set itself aside as a unique experience on the Switch that it has some merit.

Q-YO Blaster - Let’s face it, there are simply a ton of shmups on the Switch and they come in all shapes and sizes. In terms of personality Q-YO Blaster does at least distinguish itself, with an odd sort of pixel art style that packs style and no lack of ambition. Indeed, some of the bosses almost look inspired by the likes of Cuphead in their scale and loving details, though in more of a 16-bit form. Where things are a bit more shaky is in the gameplay itself which more often than not feels a bit generic unfortunately, and the difficulty doesn’t help here with stretches that feel a bit too easy punctuated with sudden jumps. That said, if you enjoy the likes of classics like the Parodius series and want something a bit more unorthodox it makes for a great choice.

Redneck Skeet Shooting - Ugh, there are just some games that you can’t understand being released on Switch. Sure, there are mobile ports of all kinds that have made it over, undoubtedly with varying degrees of value and success. In the case of Redneck Skeet Shooting the extremely limited play, dull grinding, and very little genuine content would make it an iffy prospect even on a mobile device. Aside from looking for some sort of lowbrow humor (which there really isn’t any, I just struggle to identify the appeal beyond that) this budget title just has so very little to offer that I can’t recommend it.