Monday, June 7

Mini Reviews: Jun 7th Edition [Nintendo Switch eShop]

Overboard! [inkle] (Nindie Choice!) -
While I typically look to games to provide some action and excitement there are sometimes games that come from less hardcore roots that can still be very entertaining. I consider Overboard to be on that list, dropping you off into a story right after the point your character has decided to throw her husband to his death off the side of a cruise ship with your goal being to somehow get away with it. Working as a mystery somewhat in reverse you’ll definitely need to do some research by talking to a variety of characters to suss out opportunities to blur some lines and throw up some smoke but it’s tricky, and it’s going to take you a number of runs to try to work out a viable path for success. What really makes it work is whip smart writing, in particular for your witty main character who has some great observations and choices that certainly just get her into even more trouble with the hopes of somehow using those actions to your advantage in the end. This may be one of my favorite interactive narratives I’ve played on the system.

Stonefly [Flight School Studio] - Over my time playing games on the Switch I’ve become a sort of connoisseur of weird games, enjoying the unexpected journeys they tend to take you on. There’s no doubt Stonefly falls into this category with its story told in a scaled-down world of people piloting bug mechs in the trees in search of a living and perhaps fortunes as well. Where the game will likely either live or die for most people will be with its control mechanics, which there’s no getting around the fact that they’re unusual and initially quite umbersome. The good news is that if you give them a chance and a little time they do grow on you to the point that you’ll get a rhythm down with combat, which typically consists of stunning your enemies and then working to push them off the edge. Slowly maintaining and upgrading your mech you’ll become a bit more formidable and versatile, and the experience of navigating your way through the foliage is absolutely different and refreshing. If you’re willing to give it a chance and show some patience it’s a fresh and enjoyable experience, just be warned that it is by no means perfect.

Donuts'n'Justice [FobTi interactive] - Ah, there’s just something fun about a crazy shooting arcade throwback, and while saying DnJ gave me a few Narc flashbacks in some respects (don’t get too excited)… this doesn’t get to those heights but it has some common DNA at least. The goal is pretty simple: survive while blowing away bad guys who’ll come from either direction, picking up a variety of power-ups, and try really hard not to accidentally gun down civilians. It’s actually reasonably tough, reminding me a bit of classic quarter-pumpers, which I’d imagine will either be a plus or a minus depending on what sort of experience you’re looking for. It’s not art by any means but it’s at least a well-made arcade-style shooter that looks good enough for the price, offers up some challenge and fun whether you want to take it on solo or even with a friend, and may just have bad guys who look a bit like Guy Fieri throwing Molotov Cocktails at you if that makes you giggle.

Justin Danger [Digital Melody] - In the budget space I always like to see developers attempting to do a little more to help juice up the experience, something that I’ll at least give the people behind Justin Danger for attempting. Working up something that’s a mix of an endless runner in some ways with an adventurous feel somewhat reminiscent of the classic Pitfall it doesn’t qualify as a breakout hit by any means, but at least it has a little more personality in general. Where it falls down is its clear mobile roots that haven’t been sufficiently excised, making for a ton of progressive unlocks and other elements you may deal with in free-to-play or ad-laden titles but not so much when you’re paying even a modest sum for. If you don’t mind that aspect it works, but the mobile-esque grind rubbed me the wrong way pretty quickly.

Nature Matters [Digital Melody] - Decent budget puzzlers are pretty common on the Switch so any factor that can differentiate is a boon. In the case of Nature Matters the edge is the polished art style that can look quite beautiful as you rejuvenate the land while making sure not to box yourself in before touching everything. It’s a pretty simple setup, with mild revisions to the strategy as you go getting added, but it’s very much a casual puzzle experience that just happens to look pretty nice. Lending to its more tablet-based roots the touchscreen is probably the ideal way to play. While the controller is serviceable there’s a tendency for it to be a bit touchy so it is easy to overshoot how far you wanted to go on occasion, requiring you to reset. Not a massive issue, just something to keep in mind if you’re contemplating it.

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