Thursday, October 10

Mini Reviews: October 10th Edition [Nintendo Switch eShop]

Trine 4: The Nightmare Prince [Nindie Choice!] - A quick admission, while I’ve always appreciated the beauty of the Trine series overall I was just never much of a fan of the overall experience. Through some alchemy, or maybe my tastes as a gamer have evolved, that makes my experience with Trine 4 a wonderful surprise. Smart, absolutely stacked with puzzles, and though somewhat repetitive continually changing things up in small ways I appreciate it is an action puzzling dream, and all the better if you can enjoy it with a friend. As always, each of your 3 core characters have specific abilities that you’ll need to use in concert with one another to chip away at obstacles and discover hidden goodies that seem to be present every few steps. Though I’ll admit the combat, when it happens, is clunky, this is a game first and foremost about challenging your mind and it absolutely manages to do that on a pretty well continuous basis throughout. Far more than just resting on being a pretty game (my typical feeling about the rest of the series), this is one of the most satisfying titles I’ve played this year.

Super Crate Box [Nindie Choice!] - It’s always very cool to encounter games that have simple designs and very few rules but then manage to be so well-implemented that they suck up your time. Super Crate Box is such a game, one that I was introduced to at PAX and that I was eager to spend more time with on release. At its core this is an arcade platform shooter where your goal is to survive and beat your highest score, the trick is that shooting enemies doesn’t move that needle, only picking up new crates advances your score. The hitch? You never know what weapon that will give you. It could be relatively weak sauce weapons you’ll struggle to hold enemies at bay with, it could be something powerful that you may want to keep long enough to help get the situation under control, or it could be a weapon like the Disc Gun that represents as much of a threat to you as your enemies. Throw in an endless flow of bad guys and a relentless pace and this is one of the best pick-up-and-put-down budget titles on the Switch, offering you a quick hit of action that consistently delivers a challenge that feels great for a single playthrough or perhaps a string of an hour or more if you’re determined to get further than you have before.

Neo Cab - When it comes to cyberpunk stories/adventures who knew that the Switch would slowly end up with a collection of them of sorts? I suppose the neon-tinged visuals and semi-futuristic settings that are then possible allow for exploring slightly different narrative territory, and that’s something that Neo Cab does well. Moving to a big city with some emotional baggage, but hoping to rekindle love, you character Lina is a cab driver just trying to make a living. Throw in the complications of your love life, an overarching theme of trying to fight back against the tidal wave of automation replacing human workers, and an eclectic mix of characters you’ll encounter as your fares and Neo Cab creates an interesting world to inhabit for a little while. The degree of agency you have in making choices also sets the stage for replayability, letting people who are curious explore a variety of outcomes and get the most out of the title.

Candleman - When trying to set your title apart in a crowded Switch eShop having a unique visual hook is a good starting point. That’s something Candleman very much delivers on, set in dark halls which your character is able to illuminate, but only for short bursts since doing so will slowly make you melt. While this mechanic, exploring somewhat in the dark and trying to find your way to light other candles along the way, can make for a challenge and even some suspense, it also is a convenient way to cover for what are often pretty generic level layouts. On the plus side Candleman has a great visual hook, is approachable, and can be fun, just be sure to keep your overall expectations in check since it’s just very average beyond that.

One Night Stand - While I can’t say I’ve ever had a one night stand in my life, and that could perhaps make me unable to review this with authority, there’s an honesty and sincerity to this title I found appealing. Waking up next to someone you don’t know, and who it becomes pretty clear isn’t remembering you very well either, this is a game about small decisions and watching how things play out depending on what you choose. Given a moment when she walks out of the room do you rifle through her stuff to get something to work with or just observe? When talking to her do you pursue a particular line of discussion to satisfy your interest or see where she wants to take it? Are you looking to just get out of Dodge or make the most of the situation? With multiple endings depending on your choices you can explore all of them if you’d like and though each playthrough is relatively short I consistently found the dialogue to be honest and engaging. While it isn’t an amazing game, as a study of people and how they react to perhaps somewhat embarrassing circumstances it can be fun to explore.