Wednesday, December 15

Mini Reviews: December 15th Edition [Nintendo Switch eShop]

Loop Hero [Four Quarters] (Nindie Choice!) - The thing I tend to love most about indie titles is their ability to surprise with remixes of gameplay elements you’ve never seen before. Sure, it can be risky business, and potentially crash and burn, but without such experiments we’d never see original titles like Loop Hero. Part RPG, part strategy, and part roguelike you won’t have an active role in the combat taking place as your hero makes their way around the ever-evolving pathway of the title. That said, you absolutely will be responsible for their success (or lack thereof) through the careful management of their inventory, the town you’ll slowly build to help support them, and shrewd placement of various tiles along the path that can both help and certainly hinder their chances for survival. The trick is that without carefully consulting a guide (which, in this case, I wouldn’t necessarily recommend) how best to approach these placements is a bit of a mystery, and for the best results will require some experimentation and perhaps some luck as well. For people who enjoy a challenge there’s simply nothing else like this on the system, and while it lacks the satisfaction you’d have if you were actively involved in combat there’s a great element of suspense every time you decide to extend your current run just a little longer, hoping your battered hero can weather the storm and bring back even more loot. It’s unusual, inventive, and absolutely worth checking out.

One Hand Clapping [Bad Dream Games] (Nindie Choice!) - OK, so to start I’ll admit that this isn’t your ordinary game and that’s both a good and a bad thing. At a minimum you’ll need to have a microphone with a USB connector to even get started (plugging it into the port in your dock), and a reasonable degree of confidence in your ability to not so much sing as be able to somewhat reliably match and control your pitches. Assuming you’ve got those bases roughly covered, One Hand Clapping is absolutely a unique experience mixing up some puzzle platforming with the use of your voice in a variety of ways. It starts simple, just needing to sing to trigger elements on the screen, but as you move on you’ll need to show some more refinement and sometimes a bit of creativity to solve puzzles that will put some demands on your vocal chords. While it generally works well I’ll admit that every once in a while the game seemed to get confused about whether I was singing a high or a low note, but for the most part it worked well enough to keep things moving. If you’re looking for a new twist on a music and rhythm game that won’t penalize you for not keeping up with the latest hits but still use your vocal instrument this is a great choice to have.

Detective Di: The Silk Rose Murders [Nupixo Games] - While there have been quite a variety of point-and-click adventures on the Switch to date, they’ve mostly been of a more humorous nature. Detective Di changes that up pretty significantly, with more of a murder mystery tone that’s also steeped in Far East culture and set in the distant past… all making for a distinctive experience. Depending on your tastes in puzzles in terms of complexity and inventory management there could be good or bad news. It certainly doesn’t tend to waste your time (though you will need to do a bit of backtracking between areas) with loads of convoluted or even useless items laying about, but that also can make it feel a bit more linear in nature which can rob you of the satisfaction of seeing the big picture and working out some tougher challenges. Still, if you’re looking for some solid story-telling and a change of pace in your adventure gaming this is a solid option.

Disney Magical World 2: Enchanted Edition [h.a.n.d. Inc] - As someone who has taken my family to Disney World annually (sometimes more than once) for the past 16 years (in fact, we just returned this past weekend, love the holiday decorations) I absolutely have a love for the magic of Disney and its characters. That said, as much as I appreciate the obvious effort that has been put in here to try to bring many of its characters and essence to life there’s no missing that the gaming experience suffers greatly from “jack of all trades, master of none” syndrome. I have no doubt it is heavily geared towards a younger and more casual audience, and perhaps the sheen of Disney magic could help smooth over inconsistencies in the experience for that audience, but so many of the mini game activities you’ll be engaged in feel half-baked at best, especially when contrasted with activities in the likes of Animal Crossing. I’d also consider the opening “on rails” experience to be a bit on the long side without a tremendous amount of return benefit since the most fun elements in the game are typically centered around exploring the game world and discovering its many secrets and characters. For die hard Disney fans who aren’t as seasoned it will be easier to ignore the cracks in the facade, but for gamers who’ve been around this would more likely play as an experience to be endured to see everything more than whole-heartedly enjoyed.

Transient: Extended Edition [Stormling Studios] - I don’t doubt that trying to craft games that blend sci-fi concepts with some Lovecraftian horror elements can be a real challenge when also trying to make the experience coherent… that said, even with that caveat in mind, Transient is an odd bird. Aside from often struggling to keep up with precisely what all you’re being told, its walking simulator meets adventure mechanics meets an occasional mini game doesn’t make it any easier to love unconditionally. To its credit, some of the game’s environments are impressive and even detailed, but more often than not the majority of what’s around you is simply dead and non-interactive, so it just ends up feeling like window dressing as you poke around in search of something you can act on. If you have patience, there are some narrative rewards awaiting you, but it’s a very uneven experience getting there.

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