Monday, January 27

Mini Reviews: January 27th Edition [Nintendo Switch eShop]

SpeedRunners [Nindie Choice!] - This is one of those popular indie titles that seemed like a natural fit for the Switch so it’s odd that it took so long to get here but I’m glad it has arrived. If you’re ready to tackle some extremely hectic running, traversal, and typically more than a few elements of the unexpected you’ll likely have a great time with this one. You’ll choose your character and hit the course with your double jump, slide, and grapple moves always available for quickly wall jumping or avoiding obstacles. In addition, you have a dash which can be recharged (and can be crucial to losing the competition or saving yourself when you’re behind) and a variety of random power-ups you can pick up that add a nice layer of strategy at times if you’re able to use them wisely. The goal is simply to lose your competition and when you’re in the lead that gives you a slight disadvantage as your view will become more limited, meaning you’ll want to try your best to memorize the courses at least roughly as you go so you won’t end up running into traps blindly. There is a single-player story mode that will help you get up to speed as well as unlock some characters, tracks, and other goodies. However, it’s absolutely best enjoyed with some friends, though online play is supported but indie fans should always keep in mind that sustained availability of randoms to play with is always a concern. I do think the inclusion of paid cosmetic content at this in the game’s lifecycle feels disappointing, but I suppose it’s fine in the interest of fairness to the people who’ve bought it on other platforms.

Goodbye Deponia - With adventure game series like this it is somewhat difficult to think of them or review them as stand-alones when, in order to really appreciate them, they’re meant to be played as a series. This final (? you never know) chapter once again finds its protagonist Rufus beset by an assortment of situations both oddball and in this entry sometimes more dark, where he’ll need to get out of a jam through a mix of smart dialogue and some inventive puzzling. If you’re a fan of the classic LucasArts point-and-click adventures this is probably the series that gets closest to replicating that formula overall since the dialogue consistently manages to be unexpected and generally entertaining. If you’ve enjoyed the rest of the series this should be an easy buy, but if you’re just hearing about it now I’d recommend starting with the original Deponia and working your way through.

Mosaic - Do you ever walk through life feeling like it’s mostly full of mundane repetition and tasks that lack in fulfillment? In Mosaic your main character is trapped in such a situation, moving through his day surrounded by grey blandness. However, each new day he begins to see glimmers of beauty, color, and sometimes just outright trippy stuff that helps make it clear that there’s more out there if you’re willing to look at it. Less an actively engaging game and more of a semi-interactive experience Mosaic is creative and perhaps thought-provoking depending on how much you want to consider its message. I would imagine it’s a title where people will move firmly in one direction or another in terms of opinion, so be sure where you stand on the “games as experience first” concept before pulling the trigger.

Worlds of Magic: Planar Conquest - As a huge fan of Civilization, and 4X strategy games like it, I’m always intrigued by new titles being released in that general vein. However, as I found with this particular new kid in the space, creating a balanced and excellent title in this genre is tough to get right. Starting with the game’s tutorial that leaves out far too much detail and proper explanation I didn’t feel well equipped for my first outing and in-game I found it hard to get much direction that was helpful. Perhaps worse, when it came to combat there would be cases where it would give me the impression I was sure to win but then would promptly get my ass handed to me, that really leaves a bad taste in your mouth. I suppose if I wanted to tackle combat manually I would have done better but honestly the interface and experience of that were clunky in a way that made that prospect unappealing. If you’re hard-up for a new strategy experience and are either willing to either ignore the quirks of the game, or read up on-line to get better guidance on how to navigate what feels like a title with some depth, but for me it failed to excite more than frustrate.

FoxyLand 2 - Budget platformers have become somewhat a dime a dozen out there on the Switch, but when you’re in a pinch and looking for some time they aren’t always a bad option. The previous iteration of FoxyLand debuted on the Switch not very long ago at all, and proved to be a decent, if somewhat generic, game in terms of mechanics and challenge. This sequel has quite a lot in common, in particular in terms of the overall aesthetic, but at least in my mind in the big picture it changed in a way I’m less fond of. When you include hidden coins or collectables in your levels they tend to be tied to alternative paths or challenge spots typically. Too often in this case though they tended just to be in unusual places you had to guess at and often plain die trying to find since their openings are situation at the edge of spike pits or other lethal places. This didn’t make me feel skilled or clever finding them, more often than not it just felt cheap. Otherwise it’s fine I suppose but of the two I’d say the first, overall, left a better impression with me.