Tuesday, September 1

Mini Reviews: September 1st Edition [Nintendo Switch eShop]

West of Dead [Nindie Choice!] -
While there are many roguelike shooters on the Switch (and quite a few of them are absolutely terrific) none of them plays quite like West of Dead. The biggest change is in the pacing, switching out arcade-style intensity with the more careful action befitting your undead gunslinger. Make no mistake, this game is absolutely a challenge, and in true roguelike fashion it’s not going to compromise it’s level of difficulty for the benefit of your ego in the early going especially. The thing is, once you get over the substantial hump of Chapter 1 (pro hint: unless you like dying don’t take on the Wendigo in the second level, he’s optional) and get your bearings, as well as a few new weapons and items for your arsenal selection, it does let up. Many mechanics for progression and flow take a page from the Dead Cells handbook, a smart move, though unfortunately the build variety and choice in that title isn’t as present here. Though I love the Mignola-esque art style the darkness mixed with funky geometry can sometimes be annoying as you'll get stuck, and the camera that tries to keep a bead on the action can contribute to occasional issues further. Though perhaps this is a title best reserved for the hardcore roguelike fans who know what they’re getting into, the game’s sense of style matched with the voice of Ron Perlman may compel some new blood to the genre as well. Just don’t say you weren’t warned.

Neko Navy - This is one bizarre mix of elements to make a game. Intense shmup action: check. Bullets and explosions all about you: check. In place of your ship you’ll be taking control of a cat?? When you’re playing indie games there are no rules! Select one of the 3 felines with somewhat varied bullet patterns, strap in, do your best to dodge, and make regular use of your screen-clearing bombs and this is a pretty good time on a budget. Worth noting as well is that the 3 skill levels do a reasonable job of appropriately changing things up with the lowest probably being about as beginner-friendly as you could have without giving up completely and the highest filling the screen and likely making you struggle to save space. It isn’t going to come close to the top-tier titles in the genre but it is a pretty good bit of fun nonetheless.

World of Tanks: Blitz - Free-to-play games are always a bit of a challenge to formally review, but luckily I’m not in the formal biz so I can just get on to breaking down the situation and leaving it at that. I get the appeal of a highly-accessible title like this, and I’ve played games like it before for a while. If you’re into the ground battle action, trying to blow some people up, and the prospect of waging ground battles while incrementally upgrading or personalizing your rig in some way sounds good, knock yourself out. Just be assured that a price for it being free is dealing with a regular stream of inundation encouraging you to spend some real money to advance a little quicker, or get some cool upgrades. You can still have fun not spending a penny, and in general it takes little time to get connected to a match, but what makes the game so easy to get into initially is also an element of what can work against it in the long term. No matter what tank or gear you get the experience will, at its essence, always be roughly the same and while some skill and tactical understanding can help you do better there’ll still be a point where it’s nature is to be more of the same, no matter what special events or alternative modes you may throw at it. If that’s your thing, it’ll be a lot of fun most likely. If you’re looking for something a bit more involved it’s still worth checking out for free, it just may not sustain your interest for long.

Deadly Days - A post-Apocalyptic world. Roaming hordes of zombies. Two survivors with a simple base, a school bus, and a regular need for supplies. That pretty much establishes the full groundwork for this roguelike strategy title. Choose your daily mission, try your best to move quickly but as safely as possible, making as good of use of your powers like airstrikes on a cooldown to cover your people, and hopefully you’ll not only keep up with your needs for feed but find new weaponry and other goodies to help make survival a little easier. Now sure, roguelikes are what they are, and disappointment leading to utter failure is going to happen, but the challenge here is the very loose nature of your “control” over your people. You can more broadly give them encouragement to do something, and they’re mostly good at complying, but as the screen gets more crowded and sometimes things like buildings partially obstruct everything situations tend to devolve quickly and in a way that can leave you feeling a bit powerless. Mixed with there being a bit too much grind with not enough carrot to make it consistently compelling and it can be fun for a bit but has questionable longevity.

Tank Mechanic Simulator - I’ll just admit it, most simulation games like this simply baffle me in their appeal. Sure, being able to live out a fantasy of doing a job you may not be able to pull off in real life could have some appeal. Hey, and tanks are big and destructive so maybe understanding all of the components go into making them possible can be interesting. But really, is going to a bunch of parts, removing the rust from them, sandblasting them, and then priming and painting them all too slowly and methodically really that fulfilling? Throw in the controls and instructions not being all that hot (disassembling pieces can be tricky when you can’t quite line up on them with your pointer) and if you’re really into tank maintenance more power to you but for anyone else it’ll be a firm pass.

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