Thursday, August 5

Mini Reviews: August 5th Edition [Nintendo Switch eShop]

Haven Park [Fabien Weibel] (Nindie Choice!) -
As much of an action and shooting game junkie as I am, looking for games that challenge me and provide thrills, a great game that moves in the precisely opposite direction can very much grab me. Whether something like Animal Crossing, Stardew Valley, or other titles out there, sometimes slowing everything down to enjoy some Zen-like calm can be very appealing. For me, Haven Park absolutely nailed the sweet spot for about 5 hours of my time and once I had started I simply had to see it through to the end, which can be difficult to do with as many games as I tend to play and review on a weekly basis. Your goal is a pretty simple one, to restore, improve, and find the many hidden secrets of this park you’ve inherited the responsibility for from your grandmother. This is an experience focused on exploration, the joy of discovery, a bit of puzzle solving, and taking the time to follow every path, check out every hunch, and simply enjoy yourself. I would say that towards the end of the game I did wish for an ability to set something up to allow myself to port around the map more quickly as I shored everything up but it’s a relatively small quibble, if you enjoy games that help you slow down and unwind this comes highly recommended.

The Falconeer [Tomas Sala] (Nindie Choice!) - Games where dogfighting takes a central sort of role have been around for quite some time, and while there are some stand-out excellent titles like Everspace out there that can give you that fix on Switch they still feel few and far between. Many titles have taken the approach of stripping down story to focus on combat, or some have been pretty in some way but relatively shallow overall, leaving genre fans without an abundance of choices. While its setting is more on the fantastical side, with you commanding a fighting falcon as your steed, rather than set in space or in some sort of aircraft, The Falconeer makes a serious attempt at providing both engaging combat and an overarching story to add intrigue. While it doesn’t venture into the grand territory of the likes of a Wing Commander title (though, sadly, nothing really ever has) this is a well-made game with satisfying and somewhat unique combat, a sense of flight that feels pretty good (though I’m thankful for the ability to warp ahead rather than glide along for a few minutes between objectives), and a story that may have some familiar beats but provides some color to the action and some incentive to see things through to the end. It isn’t perfect, but if you’re starved for this sort of experience it’s among the short list of better options available on the eShop.

Dreamscaper [Afterburner Studios] - As a bit of a roguelike action/shooter junkie I’m always fascinated to see new titles come into the fold that are determined to do things their own unique way. As you may have guessed, Dreamscaper does just that, and it does so on numerous levels which include its dreamy and ethereal look, and its surprising attempts to build more of a world than the norm with some rich character development. This all helps to set it apart, for sure, but unfortunately I’d say not always in positive ways. The visual style of the stages is really cool, no doubt, but too often I found that the sparkly nature of things was confusing. Is that something I’m supposed to pick up, a visual cue for something I should be concerned about, or just random sparkles? Far too often, and even after playing the game for a bit, I found myself wondering that and, wasting time on nothing, being sure to try to check anything sparkling out. While the character interactions provide flavor, and I’d think games like Hades would inspire this approach, getting around feels slower and more cumbersome, the conversations not as engaging, and the fruits for your time spent less rewarding. There are glimpses of greatness here, and if you’re a sucker for a cool visual style you’ll likely have fun with it, but it’s not as easy to recommend as some of its peers, though with some tightening up and patching it could get closer to the mark.

Castle of Pixel Skulls [2ksomnis] - Low-budget fare can always be tough to score since there’s always a question of where to put the bar. In the case of Castle you could argue it’s just meant to be a retro platforming romp, keeping things simple for a reasonable price. The issue may just be how simple and how it stacks up with its peers on the system. One note I would make is that the timing intervals of platforms and moving (or disappearing) elements don’t appear to be synched, so I’d imagine it would be speed runner kryptonite to some degree as well, and can result in some long pauses as you wait for things to line up a bit more in your favor. This has actually become a pretty crowded space and unfortunately I’d say on roughly all sides it gets trumped in quality. It isn’t the toughest, the prettiest, the most creative, the most fun… it’s just decent but entirely forgettable.

Corpse Killer: 25th Anniversary Edition [Screaming Villains] - When bringing back any game from the past for another look the prospects will always tend to be dicey, at best. Bringing back a FMV game that was featured on the Sega CD? That’s a whole different level of ballsy for a multitude of reasons. So now that we have Corpse Killer on Switch we can really take a moment to appreciate the nuanced performances of the actors involved… kidding, the acting here is approximately 10 miles below the bottom of the barrel. The crisp remastered video at least looks great… KIDDING even more, the artifacts and outright tearing of the video make this look like a shot-on-video horror show that simply can’t be made to look better. But at least the overlaid shooting gameplay is engaging and exciting… sorry, I keep doing this. Wow, it is pretty unresponsive and laughably funky. Aside from pure masochistic nostalgia I can’t imagine any reason to pick this up, it’s just a mess on so many levels.

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