Tuesday, June 1

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

Warhammer Age of Sigmar: Storm Ground [Gasket Games] -
As turn-based tactical strategy games go on the Switch there’s no doubt that while Storm Ground benefits from the Warhammer license it still struggles in a number of areas. Possibly my biggest gripe is simply the glacial pace it feels like every turn moves at, and since so much of what happens in any given battle is repetitive that can be aggravating. In terms of production values the polished look and at least reasonably-good voice acting do try to help pump things up, as does the incorporation of some roguelike unpredictability, but too often the ground you’re treading throughout feels a bit too familiar nonetheless since no matter how exotic your units may look if they still function in very traditional ways the unique edge gets lost in the process. There are certainly worse strategy titles on the console but this fails to really get into the vicinity of the better genre standard bearers in the eShop.

Beautiful Desolation [THE BROTHERHOOD] - First glances at the pre-rendered backgrounds and plain look and feel of Beautiful Desolation brought a bit of a thrilling feeling to me as a classic PC gamer, making me hope for the likes of classic Fallout or Wasteland… but in this case it happens to be a point-and-click adventure so hopes were dashed but that’s still cool. Unfortunately, right out of the gate there’s just something that feels unpolished and discouraging with very little ramping up to get you comfortable with the game’s style and mechanics flying straight into some purely trial and error puzzles before you’ve even got your legs under you. Sadly it really doesn’t break through to any sense of greatness from there, though I’ll admit the story itself has some promise, but the voice acting and troubles with finding where you can walk or exits in the environment can be an unnecessary annoyance. If you have some patience I’m sure you can enjoy the adventure, but overall it just feels like it struggles with too many issues to be recommended more than half-heartedly.

Fate of the Pharaoh [Cateia Games] - A little casual strategy action isn’t always a bad thing, and if you like to peck out some commands to your workers to collect resources, build structures, and generally keep everyone happy Fate of the Pharaoh may be your jam. While probably a bit quicker to play using the touchscreen, the console controls also work well enough to keep your workers busy as you learn the ropes of civilization building one new building at a time. As you go, a careful balance of making sure you have the proper resources and gold coins is vital if you want to keep all of your bonuses but as a whole this is a decidedly casual experience, so you can feel free to take it at your own pace.

Blink: Rogues [Fox Dive Studio] - Cobbling a few ideas together that have shown up in other shooters on the Switch, Blink: Rogues at least seems to have some ambition going for it. You’ll need to be mindful of special enemy colors to be sure to hit them with the right weapons, you can face your ship either up or down in order to properly take on enemies, and you’ll also need to jump from the left of the screen to the right to avoid trouble and grab special items. All of that at least makes for an experience that isn’t generic, but unfortunately it’s also pretty dull and feels unrefined. You really don’t feel very powerful and the way waves come and go just doesn’t seem to have a well-designed flow you’ll see in the truly great shooters. As something different on a budget Rogues isn’t terrible, but with so many varied and terrific shooters on Switch this is low on the list of titles to recommend nonetheless.

Kontrakt [ShotX Studio] - The moment you start it up there’s not a single doubt that the people behind Kontrakt are fans of the highly-regarded and funky shooter Hotline Miami, but unfortunately that high bar also makes for a very tough act to follow. Granted, Kontrakt is more on the low-budget track, so perhaps you can expect for some lowering of expectations but even in some fundamental areas the play ends up being a bit wonky and lacking. For instance the smaller scale of the view you’re given and the overall look of the game can make busting through doors a challenge and there’s a very clumsy and inaccurate feel when you’re shooting at enemies that quickly gets frustrating. In many areas you can see the effort to replicate aspects of what made Hotline so great but in all of them there’s no mistaking the gap in the quality of the execution. As a budget also-ran perhaps you could have some fun with it but if you’ve played the best games in the space it’s tough to drop down in quality and not be a bit frustrated.

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