Thursday, June 3

Mini Reviews: June 3rd Edition [Nintendo Switch eShop]

Astalon: Tears of the Earth [LABS Works] (Nindie Choice!) -
I tend to have a love/hate relationship with retro throwback games of various kinds. Sure, I have fond memories of the 8-bit and 16-bit eras but I’d be a fool to claim that many of those titles couldn’t be improved upon when viewed through a modern lens and with current hardware. That said, when a developer manages to nail the “feel” of those games of the past without falling into all of the pitfalls true games from that era tend to have, it can be something pretty special. Managing your party of three heroes, each possessing their own style of attack, stats, and special abilities, you’ll explore some pretty large areas consisting of a variety of rooms connected in various ways. What’s also great is that every time you perish (which will happen, possibly a lot) you’ll be able to spend gems you collect in each run that you can then use to upgrade your characters or enable special abilities with. When you mix this all together the result is a retro title with both an authentic and modern feel in parallel, and a pretty great experience for people who appreciate a well-made throwback experience.

Winds of Change [Klace] - While interactive fiction doesn’t tend to suit my tastes most of the time there are instances where I can at least step back and acknowledge when something a bir more special comes along in the space. I’d say that’s the case for Winds of Change, a fantasy story set in a world of anthropomorphized wolves and centered on a conflict at a grand scale that, of course, your unwitting character quickly gets drawn right into the center of. While the production value and polish from the generally solid voice acting cast to the distinctive characters help add value it’s really the quality and depth of the writing and dialogue that help it stand out. With numerous key decisions that can be impactful more than one run may be in order if you really want to explore what all can happen, and the quality of the characters is really what helps make that notion appealing.

Sludge Life [Terri Vellmann & Doseone] - People familiar with my tastes from my many reviews are likely well aware of my love for more unusual fare, so with that in mind I found Sludge Life to be a bit of quirky fun. With a pretty basic focus of getting to all of the spots spread out around multiple areas tagged with your can of spray paint there’s not necessarily much depth in the gameplay, but the reward is definitely meeting and briefly interacting with a pretty wide variety of characters. On more than one occasion the dialogue got me to laugh, which isn’t always an easy thing to do with someone on the jaded side, but it’s the unpredictable nature of some conversations that spice things up. Not terribly complicated, or long, it’s a game mostly concerned with the experience and simply enjoying yourself, and sometimes it’s nice to play something a little off-center for kicks.

Mundaun [Hidden Fields] - Walking simulators that have horror elements are a bit of a mess on the Switch and while Mundaun has a far more interesting art style and general feel than many of the lesser examples of the genre on the system that isn’t to say it doesn’t have issues. The great hand-drawn black-and-white aesthetic fits the pretty empty and bleak space you’ll find yourself in, though the barrenness of the environments doesn’t always feel so stylistic as just lacking in detail. If you’re looking for jump scares and thrills you’ll also want to steer clear as this relies more on tension and a growing sense of dread than pop scares, so just be sure to have an idea of what to realistically expect in terms of play. The exploration and puzzles can be a bit obtuse and leave you meandering about wondering what to do next at times but on the whole the experience is surely a unique one, and that at least has some merit.

A Little Lily Princess [Hanako Games] - A Little Lily Princess is a bit of a different flavor from the typical visual novel I’ve checked out on the Switch, in this case being a bit of a period piece with you playing the part of a young lady trying to make her way in a girls boarding school. There’s a fair degree of decision-making, which is always nice, mostly consisting of either what activities you’ll participate in (which will boost certain stats, though not in a way that’s guaranteed for an element of randomness) or who you’ll spend time with. This will lead you down a few different paths to different endings with different characters. It may be a bit niche, but if the story sounds intriguing you should likely enjoy it.

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