Wednesday, January 12

Mini Reviews: January 12th Edition [Nintendo Switch eShop]

Nova-111 [Funktronic Labs] (Nindie Choice!) - While it gets off to a bit of a light start, Nova-111 is the sort of game that’ll sneak up on you with its challenge as it continues to add more complicated enemies, environmental threats, and varied tools to help you survive the further you go. Finding a space that’s less onerous than something like a tactical combat sim, but elevating the challenge beyond your typical light and breezy strategy title, depending on your level of experience and confidence you may get pretty deep before things get messy for you but I’d wager most people out there will feel the sting of a challenge at some point as complexity continues to get piled on the further you go. Where, when, and how you move in relation to what’s around you, and making the proper use of the weapons and abilities you have available, is vital to your success and the further you go the more even small mistakes or hesitations can cost you. Nova-111 may not be without its flaws, but if you’re looking for a mix of some action and strategy that doesn’t carry a terribly high cost this is well worth your consideration.

Faircroft’s Antiques: The Forbidden Crypt [Ocean Media] (Nindie Choice!) - Consistent with the rest of the Faircroft’s Antiques series, The Forbidden Crypt is among the most polished hidden item puzzlers out there. The puzzles themselves have consistent artwork, items generally blend in well with the background (well, as most as some oddball things are able to), and there are also often other puzzles of various kinds that break things up nicely. To top it off, while the stories and characters may not generate much intrigue or excitement there’s at least an attempt to pull everything together thematically, but in a light way that doesn’t add substantially to the time you put in, just enough to connect things together and add a layer of polish. While it’s hard to say any particular chapter is clearly better than the others, if you’re a hidden object fan the series and this specific title are certainly worth a look.

Heaven Dust 2 [One Gruel Studio] - With an isometric top-down perspective, a slowly-revealed story (for what it is), and a mix of exploration, puzzles, and some zombie killing, Heaven Dust 2 at least feels pretty fresh on the generally horror-thin Switch. Obviously taking inspiration from the Resident Evil series (for better or worse), you’ll need to carefully review every area you’re able to get into, try your best to minimize your use of your ammo and healing, and very likely periodically work through some frustration as you try to figure out what you need to do next. Inheriting perhaps one of the worst aspects of the classic point-and-click genre I found some of the puzzles and elements that act as roadblocks to be highly aggravating… especially when doing something as simple as changing into a security uniform requires you to do so only in a specific area that you may need to consult the map to find. I think my frustration isn’t necessarily that any of it is impossible to figure out, just that it feels like needless padding to lengthen (but not really improve) the game. Still, if you’re starved for a little horror and suspense as you work your damndest to try to conserve your limited resources there’s very little out there in the eShop like it.

QuickSpot [Bandai Namco Games] - If you’ve been around for a while you’ll undoubtedly remember, and likely even participated in, the brain training craze Nintendo helped to popularize a while back with Brain Age and other copycats that were around. Perhaps helping to indicate the craze is back, QuickSpot has a much more simplified approach, focusing heavily on “spot the difference” puzzles where you compare side-by-side images, but offering up plenty of variations on that theme and puzzles dense with detail that you’ll need to carefully review in order to find every visual discrepancy (with some being quite minor and a real challenge to find). It is billed as being something you can play solo or with friends, but selling this as a social game seems a bit odd to me outside of the impulse for friends to be in a race to poke fun at each other for being too blind to see something first. With the focus exclusively on touchscreen play it can be quite quick and convenient to find things but I will note at least smaller areas can be tricky with your clunky (or, perhaps, just chunky) fingers at times, which can be frustrating. The nature of the challenges do vary a bit, seemingly at least attempting to line up with the different cognitive areas they’re looking to help you target, but even if this may not be a golden ticket for keeping your gray matter young and vibrant it’s still a reasonably well-made puzzle challenge.

I Love Finding Cats [Ocean Media] - In the casual-ish space for games that feature a central hook like hidden objects (though that isn’t to say there aren’t other puzzles here, there are a variety but hidden object ones are the most common) there’s only so much differentiation you’ll see between most titles. Sure, there are ones that handle the objects and their art on a technical level better than others, I’ve seen ones with painful seams around items in particular, but for the most part the theming and general taste tend to rule. Well, if you happen to be crazy about felines this will likely be the one to get you purring as cats of all breeds, shapes, and sizes are featured in pretty well every aspect of the presentation here. Hiding in scenes, waiting to be found, being the subject of picture puzzles you’ll assemble, and more, you can’t swing a dead c-... I mean there’s a bunch of them (and in no way do I advocate furry friend violence, the joke just hit me and I couldn’t resist). If you can’t get enough cats in your life this will help you add to your collection, for sure.

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