Wednesday, November 24

Mini Reviews: November 24th Edition [Nintendo Switch eShop]

Death’s Door [Acid Nerve] (Nindie Choice!) -
Opening with a pretty minimal understanding of what’s going on, Death’s Door gets off to a bit of a rocky start. Once you give it a bit where you understand its relatively simple but effective controls, and you make a bit of progress, the picture does get clearer and that allows a sense of satisfaction to settle in nicely. Playing out as a sort of slasher adventure with a satisfying number of puzzles, as well as an abundance of secrets, Death’s Door isn’t for beginners but for the most part is never unfair either in its degree of difficulty. You’ll need to be quick, make periodic upgrades that suit your style of play, and always try to be a bit curious about every possible way you can go to be sure you don’t miss anything to get the most out of it. In particular the formidable bosses you’ll face can require a mix of skill, patience, and a fair amount of luck… but that’s what makes getting through them all the more satisfying. Smart and stylish, if you were a fan of Hyper Light Drifter or games like it, Death’s Door fits perfectly into that same space, finding the balance between adventure and challenging-but-satisfying combat.

Monomals [Rogue Games] - One thing I typically appreciate in indie games is their willingness to simply be themselves, damn the consequences, and how that can result in novel play. In many respects Monomals accomplishes this, resulting in an unusual mix of fishing, platforming, and a music sandbox of sorts if that makes sense. Paired with its colorful characters and presentation it has some appeal for people seeking out something off the beaten path, without a doubt, but that isn’t to say it isn’t without its warts. If you simply play along and do your best, mechanically the controls for getting some boost-y thrust to move around in the air specifically in the action levels works well enough, but if your goal is to be more effective and meet goals trying to truly understand how they work becomes more of a mystery. I won’t lie, they feel odd, and it was almost as if the more I tried to understand them the less they made sense, so I settled on simply being patient and getting where I wanted to go eventually instead. Check it out if it grabs you, just beware that different doesn’t always work.

DEEEER Simulator [Gibier Games] - Weirdo physics games are definitely their own thing, probably best championed by the reigning king of the genre, the Goat Simulator series. Perhaps obviously from the title, DEEEER Simulator has its sights set in that same direction and to its credit while there are similarities between the two this has a flavor all its own. It does take a little experimentation and trial and error to get rolling, as the game doesn’t really explain the extent of what you can do so you’ll want to be observant, explore, and try things out, building knowledge as you go. I wouldn’t consider the gameplay to be deep, but it certainly can be satisfying in its silliness, pulling in elements of Grand Theft Auto to some degree, giant mech combat, and other surprises for those who stick with it and are open to the experience. It may not be art, but it does have its goofy charms.

Date Night Bowling [Serenity Forge] - Conceptually this is simply a cool idea, offering a mix of a traditional bowling game with a sort of a stripped-down dating game. In execution though, it doesn’t all quite come together. The bowling itself is pretty rock solid, using a pretty traditional gauge system to control the ball’s positioning, spin, and power, with all of that then combining with your choice of your preferred ball weight and even the degree of oil on the lane. Unfortunately, the more novel side with the dating piece feels a bit more like an afterthought than something given full attention. In between frames you’ll participate in a variety of mini games that range from decent to not so hot, with the goal being to find success and slowly build up interest with your date. Between the mini games and the interactions this side of the experience simply doesn’t feel very fleshed out, and at the end of the date even when finding some success it all seemed to end abruptly with a few pleasantries. It works well as a novelty game, and could be fun to play with a romantic partner for a little competitive fun, but I’m left wishing it had a little more ambition to realize its potential more fully.

Wax Museum [Crisp App Studio] - When you’re dealing with relatively well-known game styles, especially in the casual space, I’m certain it gets more challenging to set yourself apart. In the case of Wax Museum the challenge is to try to spruce up the hidden object game with some extra oomph, and to a degree there’s some success in the setting and an attempt to infuse a bit more story than usual into things. All of that said, having played so many of these games over time the “feel” of play and how the items are integrated into things tends to define the experience more than anything else and in this regard, for me, while it does far from the worst job in the space it didn’t quite click for me as being the best either. If you love the genre, it’s absolutely worth checking out for being different, but I think its novelty is stronger than its core play elements.

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