Thursday, April 1

Mini Reviews: April 1st Edition [Nintendo Switch eShop]

Overcooked All You Can Eat [Ghost Town Games Ltd] (Nindie Choice!) -
Possibly one of the best games to challenge and entertain determined groups either locally or online in this generation, Overcooked started strong and at this point where they’ve brought everything together into one package it’s tough not to be impressed. With the original, the sequel, and all associated DLC packed in there’s a whole menagerie of characters to choose from, a ton of locales and challenges to tackle, and a host of options both local and online for matching up to cooperate or compete with others. What I truly appreciate is how the challenge is still very much there for more seasoned groups but there’s also a terrific assist mode that will change everything into being much more casual and family-friendly as well, opening the door to anyone being able to enjoy plenty of prepping, chopping, cooking, cleaning, and serving. If you’ve already got both games this may be unnecessary but if you’ve been waiting to dive in or only have one of the titles this is a terrific excuse to get a great amount of content at a bargain price all in one.

El Hijo [Honig Studios] (Nindie Choice!) - Stealth games, in general, usually aren’t my bag for whatever reason but while El Hijo heavily involves that mechanic there’s enough charm and variety that it works for me. Initially trying to escape from the monastery he’s been dropped off at and then in search of the people who wronged his family there’s not a lot of story but it’s easy to understand and relate to so that works. As you’re introduced to new spots to hide in or even move through there can be a learning curve at times so it’s critical to check out anything that looks like it has potential or you could waste time trying to get through a spot using a far tougher plan than is necessary but I also appreciate that it seems in places there’s not only 1 way to get through. It won’t be a match for everyone but its cute style and clever variety keep it enjoyable, interesting, and sometimes challenging throughout.

Faircroft’s Antiques: The Heir of Glen Kinnoch [Ocean Media] - Since this is both a casual hidden-item-mixed-with-various-puzzles game and part of a series of other games that are all roughly the same this review is a toughie in a way. Compared to the OG hidden object games these are better made and offer more variety, with objects being much tougher to spot as they’re often well-integrated into the scene and they’re also not a one-trick pony by any means. Stitched together with a light Hallmark Channel movie kind of wholesome feel they’re easy on the nerves and, if you’re looking for something soothing to relax with, aren’t a bad investment of a relatively modest asking price.

Gallic Wars: Battle Simulator [MadGamesmith] - Budget games are always a bit of a gamble, as there are definitely titles that surpass expectations and then there also are those that you wonder whether they were ready for prime time in the first place. Unfortunately, I’d say Gallic Wars, with its overly simplistic scenarios, limited controls, and simple lack of much content of note falls into the less happy category. Sure, the presentation being lacking and there being limits in the complexity of this strategy title would be understood at this price point, but throw pretty clunky controls and simply little fun to be had onto the pile and there’s simply not much redeeming here to note.

I Saw Black Clouds [Ghost Dog Films] - While back in the day I was never much of a fan of the FMV game fad that accompanied the explosion of access to CD drives back in the day I’ve actually been a moderate fan of the recent resurgence of the genre in this generation. When handled properly, and backed by the right story and acting, it can work almost seamlessly and provides a sort of interactive movie feel that’s unique. I Saw Black Clouds, regrettably, I wasn’t so enamored with, a few major problems in particular standing out. For one thing, the illusion of seamless transitions is shattered not just by what feels like longer delays than usual but by poor decision-making in composing the cuts that are meant to be assembled. Background music and other issues that have poor prospects of lining up well really wreck the experience by feeling disjointed, making it feel more like those old days. More critically, though this criticism is more personal as a parent of two children with different challenges and one of whom has had struggles with suicidal ideation, is that its use of suicide and people with impairments feels cheap and reductive. In particular, pretty well opening with a depiction of suicide smacks of “shock value” when the story and overall arc of things could easily have been handled after the fact without it needing to be seen. On multiple fronts it comes through as a clumsy effort and the payoff of enduring it all isn’t enough reward to excuse some lazy characterizations that got you there.

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