Thursday, February 25

Mini Reviews: February 25th Edition [Nintendo Switch eShop]

Curse of the Dead Gods [Passtech Games] (Nindie Choice!) -
Roguelikes have exploded in popularity in the past few years, with games like Dead Cells and Hades showing the way the last 2 years in how to make top-tier mainstream titles in the space. Curse of the Dead Gods may be a bit too challenging for a more generic crowd, but if you’re a fan of more challenging far in the spirit of Darkest Dungeon or (I wasn’t going to say it, since I hate when people say it) Dark Souls, it’s a title that does “hard” right. Absolutely swimming in the “risk versus reward” mentality every room you choose, every side passage you run into hoping for loot, and every bit of healing you benefit from at the cost of further corrupting your soul is about giving you choices and (often) then making you pay for them. When you first start out corruption feels like the enemy you’re fighting, and to a degree that’s true, every 100 points of it you receive you’ll take on a new curse. But even the game’s curses are often a matter of perspective and once you embrace them, and get some meta progression perks going, things get challenging and fun. Combat is tough, with your dodge and parry being essential to survival, and there’s a rhythm to it that takes getting used to but that plays with terrific (and appreciated) precision. Once you’ve got a handle on the combat, have made some smart investments with your meta progression, understand which weapons best suit your style, and have learned to use curses to your advantage whenever possible, you’ll find a deep, challenging, and rewarding roguelike well worth your attention.

Ghosts ‘n Goblins Resurrection [Capcom] - Ahh, the tightrope of going back to revisit classic titles that live in infamy. Nobody ever accused the Ghosts ‘n Goblins franchise of being too easy, and Resurrection absolutely honors its traditions for better or worse since it gleefully reminds you right out of the gate that it’s here to kick your ass you once again. The great news is that along with a terrific modern art style and some new elements and stages (though very much honoring the classics as well) the team behind the game have also tried to make it more accessible as well, though perhaps a bit slowly. Aside from the choice of 4 difficulty levels to start out there’s also some meta progression if you’re able to collect butterflies that are located in various places in levels. With these you’ll be able to unlock new perks and abilities that can absolutely save your butt in a pinch, or critically allow you to have more than one weapon at a time you can switch between (a freaking revelation!). That said, the classic limitations of the games highly-annoying static jump and weapon aiming are also present so be warned that even powered up you’re still going to be quite vulnerable with those aspects of play to contend with. It’s hard to say whether non-retro gamers or people lacking nostalgia for the franchise will want to take the plunge with this redux, no matter how well-crafted, but for those of us who have fond memories of its challenging play this is a terrific opportunity to revisit it with some appreciated modern enhancements.

Quest Hunter [2 Zombie Games] - Who doesn’t love a decent action-RPG dungeon crawler where you can explore, kill, loot, and work out puzzles? Quest Hunter has most of those elements present, and it’s great that you can party up with others for sure, but its main problem is that from top to bottom the experience just feels so vanilla. It’s not too easy, not too hard, it fits somewhere in the middle, but it’s then also a bit unremarkable given the competition that’s out there for your attention. With no compelling story or amazing art design to suck you in the hope would be that the combat or puzzle-solving would help to compensate but though they’re serviceable they’re just good. If you’re a genre fan perhaps this will just be a comfortable ride to mildly enjoy but if you’re looking for some excitement and energy this game just fails inspire those feelings.

Anodyne 2: Return to Dust [Analgesic Productions] - Perhaps it’s me, and I’m just an impatient gamer, but this is one of those titles that simply takes too long to get off the ground and even when it did the story threads weren’t enough to justify too much generic gameplay. Moving between a light 3D platforming feel ala the PS1 generation (complete with large and generally empty spaces far too often) and some puzzle action with a 16-bit flair, you can see the effort around you at times but it just struggled to pull me in at all. It all has an arthouse feel to me, and perhaps there’ll be people who want to dig into the story that it’s trying to tell, but with such uninspired play I struggled to be interested.

Taxi Chaos [Orange One] - Hey, hey, hey… it’s time to make some ca-raaazy money… Well, or not. I know I’m not alone harboring a crazy amount of nostalgia for the frantic dodging, weaving, and vehicular mayhem of Crazy Taxi. One look at Taxi Chaos immediately sent me into a spin with hopes of a modern take on that same iconic play. Well, on a mechanical level Taxi Chaos does pretty well everything correctly, you’ll be picking up passengers and trying to get through town quickly to get your fare and then immediately pick up someone else and continue until you run out of time. The problem is that for the most part nothing else came over in translation. Sure, you could lament the lack of the amazing soundtrack, replaced really by nothing but a generic quiet bit of music in the back, but there’s so much more missing here and that starts simply with energy. Your passengers, your driver, the city itself, the lack of the gravel-voiced dude getting things going… and perhaps this is why Sega hasn’t returned to the franchise, for fear of being unable to recapture lightning in a bottle. Unfortunately, no matter how hard you’re jonesing for even a hint of that old magic, Chaos will likely disappoint you with its technically accurate but pretty soulless overall experience.

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