Wednesday, December 29

Mini Reviews: December 29th Edition [Nintendo Switch eShop]

Filmechanism [Chemical Pudding] (Nindie Choice!) -
It’s always great to see smart puzzle games that deliver play that hasn’t been run into the ground and that provide the opportunity to get some help when needed. Mashing together puzzle platforming, old-school box pushing, and the ability to capture elements where they are and restore them to those positions later gives Filmechanism plenty of opportunity to keep its challenges fresh as you go. The opportunity to simply take the normal easier path, or one of two tougher paths, helps to give everyone a chance to enjoy the experience, and if you’re determined to take them all there’s also plenty of content. Wrap it all up with a great vintage presentation that is more than adequate and even a usable hint system to help you when you get stuck and it’s a well thought out package that’s ideal for puzzle fans of all skill and experience levels.

Dungeon Munchies [maJAJa] - I’m always down to check out games that are a little off-center, and from its basic description Dungeon Munchies certainly fits that bill. Essentially playing as a zombie who is doing the bidding of a necromancer, stirring up some trouble… somewhat literally. A central piece of this side-scrolling adventure is crafting recipes to improve your equipment and skills, quickly getting to the point where you’ll need to make some decisions on either what best compliments your style of play or what may be needed to get you through a tough section. While it has its charm, and its level of difficulty in general is reasonable, that’s not to say it doesn’t have some rough edges when it comes to the controls and just the general bones underlying the game experience. If you’re looking for some fun though, and are willing to forgive some warts in the name of something a little different, it may be a good match though.

Word Forward [Thalamus Digital Publishing Ltd] - While word games of this sort are probably better suited to play on a mobile device, when the challenge is there and the price is at least reasonable it’s hard to begrudge a title like Way Forward. Be warned, even among the tougher word puzzlers I’ve played on Switch, this may be the toughest with its pretty strict ruleset and pre-made boards awash with vowels that you’ll likely curse. With the objective of clearing all letters in each screen, and making judicious use of the few power-ups you have, you won’t want to be impulsive. Even if you see a great longer word you can pull off, which will give you a useful bonus letter swap ability, if it’ll put you in a corner trying to clear the board you won’t be able to use it. If you’d appreciate a thoughtful challenge that taxes your vocabulary as well as your strategic ability this could be a winner.

Head Over Heels [QUByte Interactive] - Jumping into the wayback machine for this one, seeing this title for the first time since the Commodore 64 era was a bit of a thrill, I’ll admit. Though I don’t remember much of the mechanical experience, I did have a recollection that it was a challenging game my friend and I worked through little by little waaay back in the day. If you have nostalgia for either this title, or for games of that era, I can tell you that the translation here is quite authentic… warts and all. But first, you’ll need to simply get used to the isometric movement scheme and simply how the game works mechanically in terms of jumping and what each button does. That’s where one of the major issues comes into play though, as the experience is absolutely authentic to the original, providing zero instruction or provisions for help of any kind. Since the style of play, switching between your two characters, and working your way through puzzles in each room doesn’t have a very contemporary feel or sensibility that lack of guidance makes the game tough to love out of the gate. However, if you’re willing to put in some effort, and perhaps look up an ancient strategy guide, retro fans may enjoy the trip down memory lane.

Forgotten Hill Dissolution [FM Studio] - Mixing together elements of an adventure title with a heavier-than-usual focus on puzzles, Dissolution does have some appeal. Out of the gate though, it can be a bit aggravating as it does a poor job of getting you started with what you’re supposed to be doing. Given a little time and some flailing around the rooms you’ll likely catch on, finally finding a key item or two that you’ll recall being handy for puzzles in rooms you’ve already been through. The very brute force method of working things out sort of left me cold though, with the experience often feeling less focused on smarts and ingenuity and more on simply walking around and trying everything until it pans out. The puzzles, thankfully, are generally more engaging, though as always seems to be the case they generally vary in quality. It doesn’t make for a bad experience, but given the amount of competition in the space it’s also hard to get more excited about what it has to offer.

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