Monday, August 26

Mini Reviews: August 26th Edition [Nintendo Switch eShop]

The Vanishing of Ethan Carter [Nindie Choice!] - When a game starts up showing a warning that establishes it isn’t meant to hold your hand I’ll admit my “Ruh Roh Raggy” meter tends to go off the charts. There’s something to be said for discovering a game in your own way and time and if you don’t mind the frustrations that can come with that Vanishing is an unusual, unnerving, and unconventional adventure. Be ready to explore, adapt, and challenge yourself with the reward being what feels like random breadcrumbs that help to slowly begin to paint a picture of what has happened and who is involved. If you give it some patience and your full attention it can be rewarding, just be warned you may be tempted to hit some guides to figure out what you’re doing wrong as you can be prone to getting stuck.

Milkmaid of the Milky Way [Nindie Choice!] - When it comes to adventure games, the Switch is very well (and possibly too well) represented. The good news tied to that is the fact that there are a great number of options and styles to choose from for genre fans. As many as I’ve played on the system I’m pleased to say that Milkmaid of the Milky Way simply feels a bit different. It has come over from a mobile space so it is relatively straightforward with a point and click interface and not a lot of clutter. Puzzles are creative without too often being convoluted and confusing, seeming to hit a sweet spot where you’ll need to make some leaps of faith but may not feel like you absolutely have to consult a guide periodically to avoid screaming. Throw in a budget-friendly price and the few hours this will take you makes for a satisfying bite of quirk and charm.

Gurgamoth - Quick and intense multiplayer experiences can be fun in bursts, and since typically the genre of choice for these titles on Switch usually involves shooting Gurgamoth at least sets itself apart by doing something different. Thrown into an arena that has traps and certain death all around you along the walls, as well as random power-ups, you and your friends (or AI bots) will need to use your limited abilities of thrusting, dodging, and stunning to survive while trying to kill everyone else. The action tends to be pretty quick and crazy but also can be muddled as everyone is trying to nail the timing in striking not only first but with the right angle and timing to be sure to bump enemies into traps. Subtlety and strategy tend to fly out the window pretty quickly but I can see where this could be fun with the right crowd that isn’t looking for nuance.

Edna & Harvey: Harvey’s New Eyes - Contrasting pretty heavily with the likes of Milkmaid of the Milky Way from earlier in the list we have this entry in the Edna & Harvey series. To its credit the characters and animation style have a fair amount of quirk that help distinguish the game. Perhaps a bit more unfortunate is that I found the puzzles even out of the gate to be a bit too complex for their own good, sometimes requiring going down the dialogue tree to get something to progress and other times simply giving you next to no prompts at all of any kind to give you a clue. If you don’t mind the potential need to hit some guides to get you through there’s fun to be had here and an interesting story that allows you to watch your character grow a bit, just be sure you know what to expect.

Mr. Blaster - Well before there was even the now-infamous Worms series there was a great title that my friends and I played on PC called Scorched Earth (or some people just would call it Scorch). Working against an enemy in a somewhat randomly drawn landscape you’d hurl bombs and even more outlandish weapons at each other using your chosen angle and power in the hopes of wiping them out before they got you. Mr Blaster is sort of a bare bones or perhaps stripped for parts version of this experience, replacing random landscapes with planets that move up and down and a fair amount of variety with only a minimal amount of variation as you aim weapons that may look different aesthetically but that only behave differently in minor ways at each other. The result is unfortunately a pretty bland overall experience that simply offers too little variety to be compelling for long.