Wednesday, August 18

Mini Reviews: August 18th Edition [Nintendo Switch eShop]

A Short Hike [adamgryu] (Nindie Choice!) -
We’ve truly been blessed over the past 6 months or so with a strong run of generally bite-sized exploratory adventures that focus far more on the wonder of nature and discovery than the normal more action-oriented fare typically out there. A Short Hike, though only lasting a few hours, seems to have that perfect ratio to keep everything tight and satisfying, never having to wander too far before you see something to be found, someone to interact with, or a hint at something you may be able to discover later with the right equipment. Moving around the scenic park you’ll encounter a variety of people, some there to help you and some in need of some quick help which typically won’t have you tromping around to find what they’re looking for. It may not have loads of depth or character development but honestly you’re likely to be so enchanted with the beauty of your surroundings and the clean simplicity of the overall experience that it won’t matter a bit. A definite recommendation for people looking to relax or younger gamers with parents trying to find them something appropriate for just about any skill level.

Garden Story [Picogram] (Nindie Choice!) - When it comes to relatively chill adventures in more of a classic style the Switch has pretty great representation already and can now add Garden Story to the list. Playing as the little grape Concord, you’ll take on the mantle of your area’s Guardian, doing a bit of learning on the job as you try to complete various tasks to keep the residents happy as well as give the beatdown to the encroaching threat of The Rot. There’s a satisfying and generally more action-oriented vibe to your daily activities as you do what you can to help people to gain perks and support as well as upgrade your abilities. While it’s not terribly elaborate in its world and storytelling it’s a relatively familiar sort of gameplay loop that has that sort of “one more day” pull as you hope to see what comes next. Recommended for fans of games in the vein of Stardew Valley and some other farm simulators that are itching for just a bit more combat to spice things up.

Fort Triumph [Fort Triumph LTD] - Let’s be honest, though many games have attempted to capture some element of the X-Com style of tactical strategy combat, very few have done a decent job of it. What I like about Fort Triumph is that it borrows some great general features from that franchise but then adds in some new tweaks and smart abilities that are a bit different and fresh. This means you’ll at least need to change up some of your typical planning to take the best advantage of the opportunities they afford you. Though the view of the field tries to be helpful with a free camera there are situations where it can still be hard to see precisely what you want to, and it can lead to some unusual shots as well of the action as it unfolds. What may win or lose the day will be the fantasy setting and the more contemporary sense of humor to things, for some pulling it away from being stuffy and serious but for others it could perhaps be a bit grating. A solid effort with strategy appeal, but perhaps not groundbreaking either to pull in new people to the fold.

Faraday Protocol [Red Koi Box] - With a first-person puzzling style that is quite different from, but at times reminded me of, Portal in some ways with its construction and dialogue Faraday Protocol at least caught my attention. Certainly the comparison isn’t a fair one, pitting anything against a pretty well iconic classic, but compared to some other attempts with this view in puzzle games I at least think this comes through fairly well, even if at times it has a bit more of a trial and error than a deductive one when it comes to working out how to proceed. It’s all about managing your limited energy resources in each room (or group of rooms) effectively, setting yourself up for success by working out the proper progression to things. It’s nothing revolutionary, but if you’re looking for a different perspective in your puzzling it’s a fair choice.

Heart Chain Kitty [origamihero games] - While I have nostalgia for old-school looks and experiences I have found that while a return to classic pixel art tends to be met with a sense of fondness early-gen 3D games can be tougher to swallow. While I tried to keep an open mind the muddiness, blurriness, and oversaturated colors in Heart Chain Kitty unfortunately did get in the way of enjoyment. The somewhat primitive nature of the action, while making it more family-friendly perhaps, didn’t do it any favors either. In so many ways this feels like a release from another time, even moreso than the myriad remasters I’ve seen. That’s not to say there can’t be an audience that will enjoy it, just it’s a tough sell in this day and age on multiple levels.

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