Monday, June 29

Mini Reviews: June 29th Edition [Nintendo Switch eShop]

KLAUS [Nindie Choice] - While puzzle platformers are represented in abundance in the indie space, there are definitely ones that put in some extra effort to stand out. While it may lack some of the bells and whistles the titles at the top tier possess, KLAUS has a lot more going on within it than its initially straightforward presentation suggests. Steadily alternating the focus from pretty smart puzzles, to challenging platforming, to stages with a blend of both the great thing about this title is that it doesn’t settle into a pattern of simply dishing out more of the same but tweaked to be slightly harder. Hidden secrets, some boss fights, and some stages that will simply have to be seen to be understood await, and at a very reasonable price as well. Throw in a story that reveals itself slowly as you play and it’s an overall package that should exceed just about any reasonable expectations you may have.

Yes, Your Grace - Shakespeare, long ago, may have penned “Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown”, but it isn’t until you contemplate being in that position that you begin to understand it. In this title you’ll find yourself at the helm of your kingdom and trying to manage your various affairs of state, difficult relationships with your allies and/or adversaries, and possibly most crucially the challenging spot where these two concerns can intersect. While the rock solid Reigns titles offer a quick-swiping and condensed version of kingdom management in this case you’re a bit more put upon as your family dynamics can greatly complicate the picture as you need to weird their needs against those of your people. Though it isn’t a terribly long play that isn’t to say it can’t be a challenge as you try your best to do the right thing, and most critically who it is that may disagree with you.

Swords and Sandals: Spartacus - While I love an indie title that manages to do something new and unexpected, throw a catalyst like roguelike concepts into the mix, or merge together genres in a way I never imagined, there’s also nothing wrong with executing something familiar well for a reasonable price. Feeling like a long lost slashing action platformer from the 16-bit era Spartacus is all about avoiding traps, hacking at bad guys, freeing your fellow slaves, and trying to find the abundant number of secrets that will aid you in your quest. Once you get rolling the action tends to come at you pretty consistently and the degree of challenge will test you. While in spots the jumping in relation to some trap types can feel a little stilted in general this is a solid throwback to bygone days.

Towaga: Among Shadows - This is one of those titles where I’m a bit torn on how to feel about it. If you simply take a look at it there’s quite a bit to like. The artwork looks great, the shooting action has some variation by blending twin-stick action with single-stick aiming modes as well, and at least initially it seems intent on offering up a challenge. The more you play though, you’ll either deal with its very grindy nature and shrug at the skill walls you’ll tend to hit until you can get upgraded, or you’ll get annoyed by that. Count me in the irritated camp, and with my arcade and roguelike adoration I’d hope it’s understandable. This game’s play style, being honest, is suited to a mobile gaming mentality and I understand it. When you move to a gaming-specific console dedicated controls though I’m really not sure that’s good enough if you want success. Rather than progressing only by playing the game more and being able to afford some upgrades as you go with a simple or a full-blown upgrade system. Keep it straightforward, make it roguelike, but most of all make how long you last first and foremost a function of player skills, not of your patience in dying until you can afford some help.

A Summer with the Shiba Inu - If you’ve read some of my reviews on interactive novel-styled “games” before you’ll know I tend to be in the unenthusiastic crowd, though there have been some exceptional that have trended into the more interactive and user agency focused side that have been rock solid. While it has some cute doggo characters, even refreshing the artwork regularly to reflect some moment-appropriate faces that can be entertaining, aside from the dogs I found it quite disappointing. In particular it’s one thing for the majority of the experience to be a hard-coded script that I’m simply paging through but typically most of the content is the meat of a story. The amount of time this game wastes on uninteresting minutiae that isn’t even relevant to the story is bewildering. No matter how cute it can be this just feels phoned in.