Wednesday, November 3

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

Kathy Rain: Director’s Cut [Clifftop Games] (Nindie Choice!) -
While there have been a great number of LucasArts-esque point-and-click adventure titles on Switch, not all of them have been created equal. While many get the pixel art, quirky dialogue choices, and unorthodox use of items to solve puzzle elements right, it turns out a form of gameplay created on a platform that uses a precision pointing device hasn’t always translated well into using console controls. Among its achievements, I’d actually consider this to be Kathy Rain’s greatest strength, its method of letting you move around and then select highlighted elements to interact with relative to where you’re standing both intuitive and generally effective. Add on a fair amount of attitude, an interesting story, and what are generally sensible puzzle solutions (though you’ll undoubtedly resort to trial and error eventually, most of the time the space you’re working in at least keeps it contained) and this is a definite one to consider for classic adventure fans.

Tunche [LEAP Game Studios] (Nindie Choice!) - With its attractively-animated characters and environments, Tunche absolutely doesn’t look like any other beat-em-up on the system. Throw in the fact that a roguelike spirit beats in its heart and it doesn’t quite play like any other as well, and depending on your perspective that may be a good or a bad thing. For anyone not familiar with roguelikes, what that means is that out of the gate your character’s attacks won’t be quite as varied as you’re used to and certainly not as powerful, leading to some inevitable grinding to be done on your way to success. The positive is that once you’ve locked into your favorite character you can somewhat cater the way they play to your own preferences. One complaint is that you can’t really try out a given character’s style without taking them on a run and that their skill progression, since their styles vary, also doesn’t carry over… meaning if you like to experiment it’s going to be a tough per-character grind to discover what works for you. That said, for the most part the action is quick, your enemies don’t generally fit into the traditional generic molds so much of the experience feels fresh, and the ability to have some friends play along is welcome since you can usually use some help.

Ghosts and Apples [Rough Cyber Humans] (Nindie Choice!) - Just because a puzzle game is pretty simple in its design doesn’t mean it can’t be challenging and even maddening. Ghosts and Apples demonstrates this in spades, with the controls being merely a matter of selecting the top or bottom of the tubes to the left or right of your character to stuff ghosts into. The goal is simple to stack ghosts of the same color to make them disappear. Simple, right? Funny how upping the pace and throwing some additional roadblocks in your way can quickly make it feel anything but. In the end this really isn’t a casual game at all, despite what you may assume looking at it, and can be a frantic challenge, no matter how simple its premise may be.

The Suicide of Rachel Foster [Daedalic Entertainment] - As even the mention of suicide for some people, whether tied to their direct struggles or to those they love, can be problematic, I’m always leery of games that put it right out front. Thankfully, while this title doesn’t shy away from dealing with some creepy and/or disturbing circumstances over your character’s journey the title act seems to be given the gravity it deserves… just understand there are some dark revelations delivered along the way. Playing as a walking simulator, the pacing can be uneven and sometimes a bit frustratingly slow as you are awaiting new revelations to advance what you understand of the underlying story, but if you have the proper patience and tolerance for darkness this isn’t a bad ride.

Reminiscence in the Night [Ratalaika Games] - Blending together elements of a reasonably-good visual novel that ultimately concerns memory and the consequences of our action (even if unintended), and almost a point-and-click adventure, Reminiscence is at least unique every time you undertake one of its surprisingly brief “runs”. The positive is that it does feel like the product of a developer with something to say, the rub is that it’s hard to say whether it is delivered as effectively as it could be. I think, if you’re feeling like you’re down for a brief and thoughtful journey, it’s best taken in as cold as possible as there’s not actually much to know and even small revelations will chip away at the experience. You will need to be a bit patient with some of its choices regarding “gameplay” but its intended message is still an interesting one.

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