Wednesday, June 24

Mini Reviews: June 24th Edition [Nintendo Switch eShop]

Tower of Time [Nindie Choice!] - Genre-blending is one of the things I appreciate most in the indie space, at least when it is well-executed. In the RPG space there have been multiple takes on turn-based tactical action, many with traditional strictly-defined grid and some allowing for more freeform movement around the field. I’m not sure any have set themselves up quite like Tower of Time though, taking on more of a straight-up RTS feel in many ways. If you’re a strategy fan this will likely be a huge win, and an opportunity to enjoy a better story and general structure than you’d normally get. If you’re an RPG fan hopefully you’ll like taking combat elements that can often feel stale and overdone and replace them with something that should provide a new challenge. Throw in some well-defined characters, ample rewards for taking the time to wander around an explore, and some challenging battles as you try to optimize your skills against varied foes, and it is a package with its own distinct flavor, trying to set itself apart from its competition… and finding success for better or worse depending on how traditional your tastes may be.

Railway Empire - As simulations of this sort are a rarity on the Switch first I’ll say kudos to the developer and everyone involved for bringing this experience to the platform. In general, this sort of game is always an odd fit on consoles conceptually but the portability factor of the platform really makes the ability to take a more hardcore sim on the go exciting (always keeping in mind that reading the text in handheld can be hard on the eyes). That said, depending on the amount of minutia you’re looking to manage, I’d imagine there will be varying degrees of enthusiasm from person to person with the experience. Throw in controls that are honestly a bit clunky in their transition from the PC, and perhaps some gaps in the early explanations of the tutorials and it can have a bumpy start as well. Once you muscle through that and have your trains running though it works nicely, and for people who love micromanaging every aspect of the operation it will likely be a masterpiece. For people who just love trains and their operation, and perhaps aren’t as invested in having to define every detail to eke out efficiency, it may be a bit too much though.

Urban Trial Tricky - Stunt games such as these are always a bit of a challenge to review since I think expectations of how they should play will vary greatly from person to person. At the top of the food chain you have games like the Tony Hawk series that pretty well defined the genre, depending on your taste you’d have the Trials series off to the side which emphasizes technique, but then with just about everything else it’s a bit of a crap shoot. Tricky lives up to its name at least, putting an emphasis on providing you the opportunity to chain together what ultimately becomes a pretty impressive number of generally satisfying moves. Depending on the course you’re on the general goal and side objectives will vary (and these side objectives are a nice distraction, to be clear) but on a broad level in some cases your goal with be to quickly complete the course, and the rest of the time there’ll be a trick emphasis, whether more guided or freestyle in nature. While I appreciate that a problem I sometimes hit, where a course will be set up in a way that makes you stumble on technique and bring the fun down with a degree of pickiness, the general low-gravity and “floaty” feel of the game brings its own frustrations. There’s just a certain lack of crispness in how your moves and button pressed map to the action on the screen and trying to chain together moves can get visually muddy at times but worse the controls can feel that way as well. If you’re just looking for a budget stunt-focused game it may satisfy, just keep your expectations a bit grounded.

Working Zombies - Really working as a mini game collection you can play alone or with some friends, Working Zombies is a bit of an odd bird. With 3 games that are essentially time-management games in the vein of the likes of Diner Dash (one with you as a stewardess, another as a babysitter, and the last as a hairdresser) and another that’s a slightly more complex variant of games involving routing water through pipes, it has a fair amount of content, even if conceptually some of it is a bit redundant. One area where it can struggle a bit is in terms of control precision, something the likes of Diner Dash avoided with its mouse click-driven style. Here, since you’re moving around with the controller and then hitting your button to take action in some spaces with elements close enough together you can accidentally trigger the wrong thing. It’s not a major issue but the difference in control style does sometimes frustrate when you’re trying to save every second you can. That points to the other issue, the tuning of difficulty. With this type of game ideally geared to the casual crowd playing solo and scoring all 3 stars for your rating is generally pretty brutal, and that’s even from the get-go. Oddly, throwing in a friend or three, aside from adding a bit to the chaos, then tends to make things too inherently easy. Given the fact that there aren’t really casual games of this specific flavor on the Switch it could be appealing, just be ready to truly need to earn those perfect ratings.

Seeds of Resilience - While the survival genre has never necessarily been a favorite of mine I’ve found it quite fascinating to see the variety of what’s possible for it on the Switch. Varying from more action-oriented and casual to hardcore and somewhat strategic there have been incremental options all along the spectrum to choose from. Seeds of Resilience falls sort of in the middle, though immediately a certain bland sterility to the experience is pretty apparent. Lacking in an engaging story or characters of note, or even a sense of mystery, the game slumps out of the gate and unfortunately never manages to redeem itself with its other aspects. Feeling better suited to play on a PC the controls feel clumsy and a general lack of helpful instruction doesn’t help either. There are elements of a survival experience to be found here, but among its genre peers it struggles.