Monday, October 12

Mini Reviews: October 13th Edition [Nintendo Switch eShop]

Space Crew [Nindie Choice!] -
When it comes to strategy games we’re finally to the point where the Switch has a fair amount of diversity. One of the more unusual entries in the genre was Bomber Crew, a strategic simulation where you’d take control of a flight crew on a bomber, trying to manage your people as well as the plane to successfully fly missions through what were usually quite hostile situations. Space Crew is the sequel to that outing and the move to the final frontier not only benefits the challenge and excitement with new aesthetics, it also brings quite a lot of variety to the missions and threats you’ll need to contend with… resulting in far more surprises and overall depth in the process. Probably the game’s biggest weakness is in the control scheme, which is admirably mapped to the controller (still sadly no touchscreen support) rather than a mouse and keyboard, but has a learning curve to it and when things get hectic. This can unfortunately add to the chaos as you try to move your crew around and keep your ship from being blown to bits, but carefully slowing the action down and trying to take a breath can help you keep it together. Since it deviates significantly from the rest of the strategy pack on the console and offers up plenty of customization options both in your gear and in aesthetics if you’re so inclined it makes for a compelling challenge if you’ve tired of X-Com clones.

Foregone [Nindie Choice!] - One glance at Foregone and many video game fans are likely to mistake it for the incredible Dead Cells… and given that the game’s art and animations were created through a very similar process that’s not a coincidence. It’s the similarities in the two titles that actually make Foregone very tough to review, there’s no denying similarities but they’re also quite different in their construction and goals. Taking on a more traditional Metroidvania style reminiscent of classics from the 16-bit era you won’t have many of the roguelike trappings that both made Dead Cells more varied and challenging. That means the most of all the level designs and flow are dialed in and you won’t have as diverse of options in customizing your build by far (though the melee and shooting weapon variety is appreciated). However, it also means there’s more of a story, overall the learning curve for success isn’t quite as severe, and more traditional gamers will likely find it easier to get into due to its more familiar nature. The game’s most critical component, the execution of combat, works very well here and you’ll likely need to master the use of your dodge and the timing of your attacks to be ready to contend with the game’s various enemies effectively. I did sometimes run into performance hiccups, but in general I’d say they never felt like they interfered greatly with my success either. While the shadow of Dead Cells does loom over many aspects of Foregone, if you’re looking for a rock-solid Metroidvania that mixes melee and projectile weapons in combat effectively and feels great to play more often than not it’s well worth a look.

Juiced! - Old-school retro budget platformers, the Switch has got quite a lot of them… but it would be hard to find another quite as cheery and outright colorful as Juiced. It sports big character sprites, pretty classic play, and a relatively moderate degree of challenge that just about anyone should find accessible, consistent with games from the 8 and 16-bit eras for the most part. That said, there’s not much that helps set it apart from the competition either, so this is one of those titles where you’ll want to give it and other games like it a look and then determine which one is the best fit for what you’re looking for.

This is the Zodiac Speaking - While I’ve generally found first-person exploration adventure-type games like this to be a drag in their pacing I do appreciate that in this case the game has taken on a quasi-historic element of a member of the press chasing down the Zodiac killer to add interest. That said, since the game shares many of my complaints about the genre like too many random 3D modeled objects to pick up and look at for no reason whatsoever, generally very linear construction where you need to do everything in the order prescribed, and how that leads to little more than looking around for an object to advance the story, finding it, returning, and then learning what to do next. If you’re really into serial killers the weakly-utilized Zodiac killer’s presence and involvement may be enough to get you on the hook but honestly even as a huge true crime fan it didn’t add any allure at all. There’s some tension to be had, I can dig the appropriate 70’s style aesthetics, and it tries pretty hard to suck you in, but in general it’s just too spread out with an abundance of tedium in between.

Reflection of Mine - For me, somewhat fittingly given the mirrored nature of the puzzles in the game, I’m of two minds about Reflection of Mine. On the one hand it’s a challenging and pretty clever puzzle game, forcing you to think about what’s happening with your main and mirrored character and how to successfully navigate them through their environments without dying. This can be a plodding experience when you manage to get yourself stuck but for the right crowd it could be a fun challenge. On the other, as a parent of a child who has had mental health issues I found its portrayal of the main character’s multiple personality disorder to be reductive and almost offensive. I suppose as a plot device in a lazy way it makes sense in relation to the gameplay but there’s more than enough entertainment out there that mischaracterizes an issue many people cope with that there need not be more when the game offers nothing to learn, it’s just a device for justifying the style of play.

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