Tuesday, October 20

Mini Reviews: October 20th Edition [Nintendo Switch eShop]

ScourgeBringer [Nindie Choice!] -
There’s something about ScourgeBringer that deep down brings back my nostalgia for being in an arcade, pumping quarters into a game that consistently kicks my butt yet still puts a smile on my face. Be warned, ScourgeBringer is a tough and intense slashing and shooting experience with runs that will often end too quickly as you just couldn’t get in the groove. What makes it so worth it are those runs where you break out and get on a tear though, getting the right combination of perks and some luck on your side to smash some bosses and prove to yourself that it can be done. Of course meta progression is also a key part of you building success and overall I’d say the pacing of gaining currency to unlock some absolutely vital abilities feels about right, with you at least gaining 1 coin if you can defeat the first sub-boss. It can sometimes take a run or two to then feel comfortable making use of your newfound power but things like your heavy hit deflecting bullets or knocking enemies into each other are incredibly important to have when you’re in the heat of things. None of the above would matter if the game’s engine wasn’t up to the job but in terms of performance, fluidity, and mechanics I really can’t find any flaws with it. If anything some people may find the action too fast, and watching it can be a bit crazy, but when you’re in the moment it’s extremely satisfying how responsive your character is as you dash around the screen slashing, deflecting, stunning, and smashing. ScourgeBringer is yet another roguelike that stands alone with a pretty unique hook and overall flow while delivering a satisfying degree of intensity and challenge that the hardcore set should find compelling.

Fracter - There’s something to be said for some visual flair to add to the gameplay experience as a whole and when the aesthetics can be used in alignment with improving the action itself that’s always a bonus. Fracter has a great black and white look and really leans into the use of light as part of what you’re looking to do, whether acting as a barrier, a means to activating the environment, or even taking out some enemies. Trial and error does play a part a bit as there’s no real explanation for what needs to be done, and once you’re introduced to new ideas you’ll be expected to apply that to new scenarios. While I wouldn’t consider it to be terribly difficult as a whole, the way the stages play out is at least pretty novel and as you go further you’ll need to work a bit harder to be successful. All in all it’s a pretty unique action puzzle adventure that sets itself apart not just with its look but also the style of its play, not a bad thing when the eShop is full of titles that don’t do as good a job of differentiating themselves.

Alpaca Ball: All-Stars - Watching a game of soccer who can honestly say they haven't taken a moment to contemplate how different the game would look if played as a 1-on-1 or 2-on-2 match between alpacas? I know I have. Whether or not you’ve ever been so inclined that’s what this game is all about and for being a wacky and weird sports game without too incredible an amount going on it actually works quite well. This is definitely a case where the controls being a bit on the loose and imprecise side is intended, though you can certainly learn to be effective, but the matches are more about craziness and fun than serious scoring. You can jump, hit the ball, make a power shot, and do a back kick and there’s more to being successful than it would seem, accuracy does count. Playing through the campaign solo is fine but this is definitely a title more geared towards playing with family or perhaps some friends with everyone a bit tipsy for maximum hilarity.

Terror Squid - There’s nothing wrong with sometimes playing a game that has one core idea in place and just asks you to run with it. That’s all Terror Squid is, and the idea in this case is that you’re moving around a sphere, projected forward seemingly by the bullets in various patterns your ship is putting out. You can only steer, do a quick dash which can be useful in a pinch only, or detonate which will hopefully set off a large chain reaction, destroying the majority of the bullets around. The problem is every time you use the detonate your ship will move on to its next bullet pattern and each new version tends to further complicate things, adding to whatever previous bullets remain. It’s all about simply surviving as long as you can, which to get a high score generally means holding out on your detonations but to do a great job of that you really need to have and execute a plan. There’s not much to it, and unless you love pushing to eke out a few extra seconds it won’t likely appeal to you, but for high score chasers there’s a global leaderboard as well as daily leaderboards to test yourself against.

Cloudpunk - With an interesting steampunk / futuristic look with huge skyscrapers and vehicles flying through the clouds people were excited by early looks at Cloudpunk. When I played it at PAX I was honestly a bit taken aback thinking it still had a while to go since there were some performance issues and in the time I had with it simply not much was happening. Fast forward a few months and here we are, and it’s out, and unfortunately not a whole lot has changed since last I saw it. While flying around the city skylines is at least novel, it’s also where you’ll spend far too much time simply ferrying from Point A to Point B. Sure, there’s often some conversation along the way from your dispatch as you go over the details of the city and your various sketchy activities you’re not to ask too many questions about but the story really can’t buoy what’s a generally dull and performance-challenged experience in places.

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