Friday, July 2

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

Doki Doki Literature Club Plus [Team Salvato] (Nindie Choice!) -
First developing quite a notorious reputation as a free title, DDLC has finally made its disturbing way to Switch… and with a few extra bits of content to boot, though they’re just niceties and don’t really move the needle much. To be clear, the warnings shown before you play aren’t to be taken lightly, and this game should be avoided by people who aren’t quite mature or those with depression or mental health problems as this is a title that will very likely trigger you in a serious way. All of that said, while in terms of pacing it isn’t a perfect game it’s also quite unsettling and will leave you with quite a bit to reflect on. That would include personal relationships, the mental health issues that can be around you beneath the surface, and certainly traditional romance games that DDLC starts out in the vein of but then takes an extremely hard and disturbing turn… or two, or three from. As someone who is steadily critical of semi-interactive visual novels you’d have to take this statement with a grain of salt, but by a fair margin this is the most compelling game associated with this genre I’ve ever seen, and its themes, imagery, and characters have a tendency to stick with you, pretty well no matter what specific paths you may choose. You’ll need to be sure to be patient, as signs of trouble don’t appear until maybe an hour in and it’ll take being over 90 minutes in before the rails fall off… but there’ll be no mistaking the point of no return and when it all goes to hell. It is absolutely not an experience appropriate for everyone but, for anyone who shouldn’t be avoiding it for various reasons stated above, I absolutely recommend it if you want a shock to your system and likely something to think about.

Procession to Calvary [Joe Richardson] - As a connoisseur of weirdo games I’ve seen a whole lot of different approaches to taking the ordinary and going in a completely different direction then normal but nothing quite like Procession to Calvary. Mechanically playing as a relatively simple point-and-click adventure, what absolutely sets it apart is its bizarre and somewhat Monty Python-esque visual style and sense of humor. Tapping into the world of public domain to use classic paintings and stock music is a smart move, and doing things with that art that are completely unexpected and silly actually ends up being quite a bit of fun, even though undoubtedly it won’t suit everyones’ tastes. While it may not be a perfect experience, and only clocks in with a few hours of play time, Procession to Calvary is a sweet and weird treat that people who seek out unusual tastes should take the time to savor.

Mythic Ocean [Paralune LLC] - While most of the people I know out there are constantly clamoring for the latest adrenaline-fueled shooter, fighter, or action game of some sort, believe it or not there are people who don’t only enjoy a slower pace, but prefer it. Mythic Ocean is a title aimed directly at that crowd, placing an emphasis on exploration and experimentation in who you talk to and the conversations you have with various gods in a variety of underwater environments. It does struggle a bit in terms of providing you with much direction but as you use your sonar to spot creatures to talk to you’ll work it out quickly enough. With full runs consisting of only a handful of hours the emphasis here is on tackling each time through in a different way in order to affect different outcomes. It won’t be for everyone but if you’re looking for something more serene and thoughtful than average it’s worth a look.

The Dungeon of Naheulbeuk [Artefacts Studio] - When you set out to infuse a more typically staid and serious genre like tactical strategy RPGs with a bit of personality that does make it notable. In the case of Dungeon, though, even as much as I love some fun and silly humor I’ll say it trends more towards being crass in a predictable (and a bit tired) way than I would have preferred. What serves as a bit of a crippling blow, even if you enjoy the game’s humorous sensibilities, is that at least in its launch state the experience has some quirks and bugs that could use work. The interface feels like it was more at home on a PC, and though everything has been mapped to work with a controller the scheme is more awkward than the norm. If you like the genre and don’t mind the humor it may be worth persevering for and getting used to though, as there’s no doubt it’s a rare bird in the space… so it does have merit in that light.

Bitmaster [Sometimes You] - As a massive twin-stick shooting fan, whether in the classic arcade sense or the more modern, I’ve seen quite an impressive number of high-quality indie games in the genre on the Switch. Bitmaster, unfortunately, really isn’t one of them. In fact, it’s pretty easily forgettable aside from, perhaps, it’s low-poly art style that is modestly cool. It all comes down to the gameplay though, and while I suppose the few different weapons and power-ups are reasonably decent to work through and experiment with the bare bones basics of the arena you play in, the enemies, and the overall experience make you feel like you’ve reasonably seen everything of value the game has to offer pretty quickly… and there’s simply not much incentive to continue since everything is so bland and repetitive. Throw in some quirks that are either by design and unexplained or perhaps just bugs and it’s a forgettable budget shooter in a space crowded with far higher quality choices.

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