Tuesday, March 2

Mini Reviews: March 2nd Edition [Nintendo Switch eShop]

Kill It With Fire [Casey Donnellan Games LLC] (Nindie Choice!) -
While possibly not an ideal game for arachnophobes, Kill It With Fire is what I’d consider a “wacky physics type game” done right, as long as you have patience with its quirks. Each stage consists of multiple rooms full of objects that you’ll want to pick up and sometimes inspect, eventually finding a hidden creepy crawly that you’ll want to squish. While initially you’ll need to use the clipboard that displays your objectives early on you’ll find some hairspray that, when paired with a lighter, will let you have a bit more fun, just be careful to conserve your “ammo” and try not to light the whole place on fire in the process. As you go you’ll find new gear to help you be more effective and have fun, and with patience you’ll often find hidden rooms and goodies to reward your diligence. As is the case with many games with this sort of feel it is by no means perfect, but usually it’s the quirk and oddity that help add to the fun… and there’s nothing quite as satisfying and lighting a red spider who’ll spawn spiderlings on fire, then having them all come out flaming while running around causing general chaos. An odd treat.

Glam [Three Legged Egg] - Challenging platforming is most definitely a thing, with titles like Celeste and Super Meat Boy leading the way in defining how to do “brutally tough but generally fair” with terrific core mechanics and smart level design. While Glam doesn’t quite reach those same lofty heights, I’ll give credit to it getting at least part of the way there by working a few unique control elements like swinging from your glorious hair into the mix. In terms of the layout of the various stages I’d say it leans a bit further into the cheap side with its abundant spikes in some cases making the area you have to work with a bit lean, especially when trying to judge the momentum and angle coming off of a swing. It includes a multiplayer mode as well that amps up the challenge by adding someone who’ll hopefully pair well with your timing and skills if you’re down for group frustration and success. While it doesn’t quite reach the top tier of games of its kind it’s at least a solid effort and worthwhile for people who don’t mind a bit of gritting their teeth.

Forward to the Sky [AnimuGame] - This is one of those games that feels odd to play since it’s almost like it transports you back to another era in gaming, in this case the earlier days of 3D platforming and adventuring. There’s no doubt that Forward to the Sky aspires to push verticality in its design, with you generally ascending stairs or riding a variety of lifts and platforms to reach each stage’s exit, taking out enemies, finding secrets, and trying to collect crystals as you go that will continue to unlock more of the story. The thing is, it all feels very last-gen at best and likely earlier than that, even if visually it has a more contemporary appearance, even if simplified. Perhaps most inexplicably, the price of admission for this game feels extremely high in relation to what it offers, baffling me and making it all the tougher to recommend on its gameplay merits.

Hellpoint [Cradle Games] - I’ve never hidden my general disdain for the rise of the “Souls-like” sub-genre and for me Hellpoint is a terrific illustration of the types of games that have taken on that moniker. It’s one of those experiences that somehow feels both familiar and weird in how it is set up. You can see the influences around in the designs of the stages but then it’s prone to veering wildly towards its own ideas and implementation in places, and unfortunately I’d consider few of those new directions to be a success. It’s upgrade and inventory system menus are odd and unnecessarily complicated since areas like the effects of updating some of your stats are completely unexplained. Unusual animations and game behaviors are also regularly on display and quickly undermine confidence in this being a fully tested and finished product at times. Throw in the fact that a game such as this tends to be very combat-centric and the clunky and generally loose feel of the fighting system ends up generally being the straw that broke the camel’s back. It obviously was made with some aspirations but feels like it has come up short.

The Lost Cube [JanduSoft] - OK, so there’s no doubt an audience out there for games that are challenging, that won’t apologize for frustrating you and pushing you to execute flawlessly in order to progress. That said, there are very different kinds of “challenging” ranging from titles that are mechanically on point but complex and demand your commitment to those that are sloppy in their controls or designs and aggravate mostly due to these shortcomings. The Lost Cube, in my eyes, is unfortunately the latter with overly-sensitive controls on top of an abundance of slippery surfaces that will have you teetering on the edge of the platform you just landed on only to slide off while preparing for your next jump. In the end the stage design is pretty limited in creativity and variety and the setup instead seems to be intended to merely hamper player execution as much as possible to make the play time stretch for the wrong reasons.

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