Thursday, March 25

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

Tesla Force [10Tons] (Nindie Choice!) -
My feelings on this title swung around a bit since, at first blush, Tesla Force has a ton in common with 10Tons previous release of Tesla Vs Lovecraft, changing out a more arcade-like roguelike shooter for a more traditional roguelike style. However, once I invested some time and began unlocking new playable characters, perks, and weapons, everything quickly came together. In particular playing as Mary Shelley and H.P. Lovecraft, who both differ in feel from the original Tesla quite a bit, kicked my enjoyment into overdrive. Navigating the map in each zone is also a great addition, as it forces you to do some planning to be take advantage of potential perks in some areas along the way, while being mindful that lingering too long will allow the doom clock to tick away another hour, making all of your enemies more formidable. Yet again 10Tons has proven that they’re kings of making great twin-stick shooters, now I’m just hoping they can revisit another earlier favorite of mine and revisit Neon Chrome to give it an update.

DARQ: Complete Edition [Unfold Games] - With a dark and strange look that feels like it comes from the mind of either Tim Burton, or at least one of his contemporaries, there’s no doubt that DARQ easily catches the eye. Throw in the often mind-bending and gravity-defying nature of some of its puzzles and it, at a minimum, offers up something different and unusual. As things progress, however, it isn’t all happy thoughts. Some sections demand a more stealthy approach along your journey and these don’t work quite as swimmingly as the puzzle sections. In addition, it gets off to a rocky start not really explaining anything at all about the controls or establishing a baseline for what you’re doing, leaving the player to simply doing some trail-and-error experimentation to get started. Neither issue are crippling but they demonstrate a certain lack of overall polish and consistency that hold it back from its potential.

Sumatra: Fate of Yandi [Cloak and Dagger Games] - Harkening back to the classic early pixel art point-and-click adventure, Sumatra: Fate of Yandi has some elements that are satisfying. For one, it has a pretty unique story of survival that just feels different. Rather than focus on humor the tendency is towards a sort of human story of someone trying to get back to their life and family, and that’s cool. In general the puzzles and experimentation then also feel a bit different, more grounded in practicality than what’s typical, and that’s nice as well. That said, the tendency is pretty often towards very linear puzzles and solutions, limiting your creativity and problem-solving quite a bit since once you find given items there’s only so much you can do with them. Regardless, on a budget this should satisfy adventure fans looking for a change of pace.

Black Legend [Warcave] - Tactical strategy titles have begun to show up more often overall on Switch since launch but the consistency of quality in the genre has been spotty. While Black Legend has an interesting premise, with you leading a team of mercenaries into a cursed city with the hopes of buying your freedom and redemption, there’s just something a bit clunky in the execution. The turn-based combat, followed closely by the careful management of your squad and its resources, is where you’ll spend the bulk of your time and while it works the interface could be better and more intuitive. Advanced tactics involving color-based synergies between certain attacks are also a nice touch to try to build in some more complexity but since they’re not explained well and don’t work out in a 100% intuitive manner they’re also a challenge to effectively embrace for a while. If you’re willing to put in the time and effort there’s some worthwhile strategy to be had, but the overall package is a bumpy ride in getting there.

Stubbs the Zombie in Rebel Without a Pulse [Aspyr] - When games from previous generations make a return it’s always interesting to see whether unusual ideas that met with some success then can hold up now. In the case of Stubbs the Zombie it’s a mixed bag at best. There’s no doubt that the oddity of the gameplay, mixing zombie attack action with some elements of strategy at times, is both amusing to a degree and utterly unique. That said, once the rose-colored glasses of novelty wear off, which doesn’t take long, the issues it shares with many titles from its generation come into view. There’s a weird emptiness and sloppiness to environments in many cases, no doubt easier to notice due to the very repetitive nature of general play. Special sequences try to break things up but some can also tend to be a bit wonky in how they control or were perhaps even conceived in some cases. Credit for it being different, just not sure that’s enough to justify the investment of your money and time.

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