Thursday, October 15

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

Along the Edge [Nindie Choice!] - On a general level interactive fiction titles haven’t been my cup of tea. It isn’t that I don’t appreciate that such an experience could be game-like, having grown up reading Choose Your Own Adventure titles I appreciate a smart branching narrative, I’ve just not found that the level of quality in the writing and total package has been enough to get me fully engaged. With its story involving the mysterious legacy of your family that you’ve never really known, inheriting a small estate in a small town in the country, Along the Edge very much breaks that mold for me and did a phenomenal job of sucking me in. With high quality writing, characters that read as being complex and nuanced in their motivations and interactions, and terrific artwork that changes almost constantly it’s very visibly a project built with love and care. Sure, perhaps the generalized storyline isn’t so unique, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be effective and with many decisions that feel like they carry consequences there’s plenty of motivation to go back and try things out differently once you’re done. While it won’t deliver a shot of excitement you’d find with an action-oriented game if you’re a fan of smart fiction this should be well worth spending some time with.

Ring of Pain - With a variety of titles proving that the tight and challenging strategy of a roguelike can make for compelling play it’s not hard to see some of Ring of Pain’s influences. Much moreso than I think any other game of its kind I can think of, I certainly credit it with having a quick and pretty no-frills flow that is focused on keeping you moving… though at times it’ll feel like your current run was over before it started as a result too I suppose. What’s most intriguing is the way all of the cards on the current level are present and, with some strategy and luck, how they can interact with each other to both your benefit and detriment. This does make for a brutal learning curve at times, and perhaps some experimentation, but it’s also an element that helps set it apart from the more generic pack. If you’re willing to stick it out through the initial beatdowns and get a hang of how best to handle your various choices and risk/reward prospects there’s a solid game here, just expect a fair amount of frustration to come along for the ride, it’s not called Ring of Pain by accident.

Shoot 1UP DX - We’ve been blessed with quite a variety of shmups on the Switch, and with such diversity it can sometimes be easy to assume you’ve seen it all. Enter Shoot 1UP DX. While in a normal shooter you’d grab orbs to power up or gain an extra life here the focus is instead on building your armada right now, with the new ship simply being added to your current crowd. Depending on the situation you’ll want to spread your ships out to maximize your firepower or pull them in to try to dodge your way through tight situations. In addition, as you accumulate more you’ll eventually have ships that fire in each direction, which as you get to later waves you’ll really need in order to survive some tight boss battles. Just to throw in another wrinkle there’s also the ability to choose branching paths at multiple points, either generally keeping things vertical and “normal” or taking on something more involved like moving to side-scrolling, reversing direction, or even throwing yourself into the challenging free flight mode. There’s not a ton of content here, and arcade shooter veterans will likely only get a significant challenge on the toughest difficulty level, but I do appreciate a title that does things its own way so I can respect it for that at a minimum.

Shantae: Risky’s Revenge - Director’s Cut - Having been introduced to the Shantae series on the Switch and enjoyed the hell out of each entry thus far a throwback title sounded interesting. Risky’s Revenge, as someone who was only introduced to the franchise after the big leaps since it was made, I think ends up being more of a historical artifact than something I was drawn to continually put time into. I’m glad that some updates were made to make the presentation a little better overall but most of all there’s no denying that this is a much simpler and less satisfying experience than what we’ve been spoiled with since the release of the Switch. If you’re looking for some nostalgia or just are thirsting for something a bit simpler to work your way through it may be a match but otherwise I’d definitely check out one of the more modern entries.

Postal Redux - One of the original scandalous and exploitatively violent games on the PC an eon ago, the name Postal has a certain degree of deserved reverence. This modestly-updated version is a chance for people who played the original to remember it and for new fans to see what all of the fuss was about. Sadly, as one of those people who remembered playing it way back when and at least being amused by it allowing and encouraging you to rampage and kill everyone in sight with a variety of weapons I’d say it hasn’t aged well. A function of how violent media and games have been since the original Postal was released is that honestly it all feels a bit silly and certainly overblown. Yes, you can gun down or catch innocent civilians on fire and watch them run around screaming but by today’s standards that’s kids stuff. Then, if you remove that shock factor and glee of doing “bad things” you’re left with a game that’s technically not very good. Aiming is wonky, you’re going to get shot from off-screen quite a lot, and in order to progress plain chaos won’t work in your favor, you’ll instead work on tactics that you’ll repeat that work but aren’t necessarily fun. As a historical artifact it’s important that it exists, and some people may appreciate the chance to check it out, but as a game it’s pretty weak by modern standards.

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