Tuesday, September 8

Mini Reviews: September 8th Edition [Nintendo Switch eShop]

Spellbreak [Nindie Choice!] - Have you been feeling like Fortnite has become a bit played out? I have… though I think I felt that way pretty early since I always considered the quick-build types complete BS but I digress. Spellbreak is hoping that whatever your grievances may be with that mega-successful free-to-play juggernaut that you’ll give it a look, and considering the price of admission being nothing I think they’ve put together a total package that justifies taking the time. There are absolutely elements in the match structure and gameplay that are the same, dropped onto a large island, there’s a storm that will continue to encroach in order to force players to fight each other within a reasonable time frame, and options to run solo or with others. Where the game veers off into its own territory is where I really appreciate the differences though. In place of weapons everyone is desperate to grab to have any shot of survival Spellbreak instead goes with a magical base, with you choosing which element you want as your core and then allowing you to pick up a secondary gauntlet for another elemental power to compliment. Where the creativity comes in is how you can make combined use of these powers in some situations, opening the door to some more interesting tactical choices when you’re attacking or even evading enemies. Fortnite veterans who aren’t put off by the differences should quickly feel right at home, but even people new to these sorts of games should find the learning curve reasonably accessible. Since it’s cross-platform in theory there shouldn’t be an issue in finding opponents, so get out there and get some spellcasting on!

MX vs. ATV: All Out - When it comes to racing titles on Switch there’s definitely a fair amount of room at the top for competent titles to fill in the generally empty space. I’d say that in particular the off-road racing scene has been dodgy at best to this point. When it comes to MX vs. ATV I’d say there’s a mixture of good news and bad. Starting with the bad news visually the game is sufficient but not terribly impressive either. Though the game has a pretty nice variety of overall environments the textures and sparse nature of them look a bit dated, and some of the physics can look and act a bit oddly at times every once in a while. That said, for its flaws I think there’s enough total content and options you have in the game that off-road racing fans should still be able to eke a fair amount of enjoyment out of it. Whether you like racing on tight tracks in an arena, moving through checkpoints in wildly varying terrain without any strictly-defined tracks at all, or tricking it up for a little fun this has you covered. Sure, the feel is very arcade-y, but that also means it’s a pretty fun time as well. Even with its flaws I’d say this is the best overall off-road racing title I’ve played on the system to date.

Roommates - Given my history of not usually being a fan of visual novels and games that are roughly in that orbit I’ll admit that Roommates surprised me a little bit. You play as a college freshman, hitting campus and staying in what I assume is a very small dorm space with a few very different characters who are both male and female. Perhaps I just didn’t get the right college experience but I can’t tell you how many things in that previous sentence make no sense at all… but we continue. I’d say that the characters in the game are pretty heavily on the predictable side, though most at least have some nuance you’ll learn to appreciate as you go, and that’s a credit to the writing. Whether it’s the nerdy shy girl, the party girl, or any of the other characters in the cast as you interact with them you do get to see more behind them which I appreciated, In terms of the overall picture and your level of agency I’ll credit the game with providing you with plenty of time management options that will affect your stats and which then will influence who you’re able to interact with and how. Whether all of that makes it worthwhile long-term I can’t say, but within this style of game I credit Roommates for putting in an honest effort.

Paradise Killer - This is one of those games where you just sort of need to be well-hydrated, strap in, and get ready for quite a bit of “Huh?” weirdness. It isn’t that the game’s exploration, clue finding, and mystery solving themselves are weird but you’re very much entering an unusual world with its own mythology, unusual characters, and situations. You play as Lady Love Dies, an investigator of the highest order who has been exiled for a ridiculously long time, brought back to find out who is behind the murder of the Council. Really, trying to describe the unusual circumstances and story isn’t something you can do in a sentence or two… it’s bizarre but you go with it. You’ll find yourself doing quite a bit of wandering the island, interacting with some strange folks, and looking for items and clues that can help you unravel what has happened. There can be a sense of aimless wandering at times, with portions of the island that are a bit barren, and you’re not given a great deal of specific direction, but the periodic oddity of it all can help make interactions as you try to understand it all interesting at least.

Road to Gaungdong - Though I consider the concept of giving a delayed payoff for a slow burn type of game a big risk, I’ve learned to give indie games, in particular, a fair deal of latitude. Not everything has to have a clear reward within the first hour, and some games that ultimately end up being pretty great simply take time to get developed and demonstrate what makes them worthwhile. I was rooting for Road to Guangdong as that sort of title, one that would reward your patience with some sort of rich story of family. Considering the pretty glacial pace and requirement of pretty slowly driving across the country, and trying to keep an old car running without blowing your budget, in search of inspiration and new recipes for your restaurant with your grandmother along for the ride, I expected something truly revelatory or at least deeply touching. Sadly, much like you meandering somewhat aimlessly across the country the game itself feels like it’s in too great of need for maintenance and assistance to run and you quickly consider moving on to something a bit more reliable… or at least fun in some way.

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