Friday, July 17

Mini Reviews: July 16th Edition [Nintendo Switch eShop]

Radical Rabbit Stew [Nindie Choice!] -
If you’re looking to make a splash on the Switch eShop who can resist some cute killer bunnies mixed with very accessible puzzle action… and boss battles! There’s just a spirit to Radical Rabbit Stew that makes it generally fly by. Perhaps the nature of the puzzling isn’t necessarily original, but there’s a flair in the execution that simply made me laugh. In order to save your friends you’ll need to take on these carnivorous cottontails, smacking them around to ricochet into pots for stew. Of course you’ll want to also figure out how to get the special coin on each stage just to prove who’s boss. New mechanics are introduced at a pretty steady pace and they’re either given a simple explanation or you’ll discover them on your own through a set scenario in-game, a function of clever design that I appreciate. Throw in some boss battles (something you normally don’t find in puzzlers) and this is a clever and fun package of a game that should be enjoyable for all ages.

Rez Plz - This is a title I originally saw at PAX and that impressed me with its morbid sense of humor and somewhat clever puzzling. I say clever mainly because a central mechanic in the game is sacrificing one of the two brothers you control in order to progress. Whether they’re needing to impale themselves on spikes or jump into lava to serve as a platform for the other brother to safely progress the idea, though you’ll then be able to bring them right back (assuming you have enough crystals) and keep going. Of course, there are times where you may lose track of the active need to sacrifice one of your characters, thinking instead you’ll be able to skill your way past an obstacle, but the more you kill each other the less this is likely to happen. It’s probably a game best played and enjoyed with a friend, if nothing else this can make the fight over who gets to die more fun and you can simply better coordinate, though at times when you need to move further apart there can be confusion over who is controlling the screen and having the other player stay still. Going it solo is possible, just at times a bit more tedious, as you won’t have coordination in movements, you’ll need to continue to switch between brothers and position them individually. If you appreciate some humor to go with your puzzle platforming, and are looking for a fun time with someone else, this may be a great match.

Distraint 2 - Sharing nearly everything in common mechanically with the original Distraint, working as a story-driven journey, this sequel stands apart because of its themes and exploration of the main character’s pretty complex emotions. The adventure aspects work well enough but are generally very linear, with most everything involving some minimal exploration, discovery of a key item, taking that to where it needs to be used, solving a puzzle, and then moving on to the next chunk of story to then lather, rinse, and repeat. The most notable aspects of the game would be its dark themes and bits of suspense that pop up from time to time but unfortunately the gameplay itself ends up being quite unremarkable. If you’re looking for an exploration of the human mind and emotions it may have a hook there though.

Elden: Path of the Forgotten - Elden is really an experience where you can see the bits and pieces of influences from other games in the look and feel of the action, but at best it struggles to really come together well. This is the sort of adventure where you’ll need to do some dodging, slashing, and spell casting to knock out enemies, find items, and solve some pretty simple environmental puzzles, but I find it hard to say that it’s satisfying. One issue is certainly the lack of a clear story or even much direction of any kind, from the start you’ll just venture out and begin trying to survive, trying each of the buttons to work out what you have to work with along with a few occasional but limited pointers from the game. The use of the second stick for aiming your spells does make sense in practice but feels awkward overall in its only occasional use, and on the whole combat is then a mix of casting spells that are a bit wonky in terms of hitting enemies, careful dodging, and slashing… but it’s all pretty generic. Perhaps if the somewhat vintage and unique art style draws you in the experience may connect but there are just better games in this vein out there to spend your money and time on.

Never Breakup - Family-friendly experiences on the Switch do exist but can be hard to find, in particular accessible and “good” ones. Never Breakup throws its hat into the ring with a pretty cute look, promising some fun platforming action to enjoy together (as well as some mini games, though they’re generally forgettable). While it somewhat hits the mark in this regard, with you wanting to collect coins as well as a hidden item in each level, the controls and mechanics are a bit on the wonky side. If you try to tackle the game solo this is particularly hard to miss, and there will be times when you’ll be hard-pressed to progress simply because trying to set one character up, then switch, and manage everything one character at a time gets to be a bit painful. With 2 people it improves a bit, but then the other issue I have rears its head and that’s control that’s overly loose and that’s a bummer when platforming is the main thing on the table. In order to do precision platform jumping you’ll actually want to latch onto the ground when you land, otherwise your character will sometimes just wander a little bit and that risks falling off. As you move through the air things aren’t always smooth either, though I’m not quite sure what’s up with that. In the end, it’s not necessarily bad as an experience but it may be a bit too generic for more serious gamers but finicky for the less experienced or coordinated gamers out there.