Monday, January 24

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


Vivid Knight [Asobism] - When you think of RPG dungeon crawlers you’d normally assume it will fall into one of two camps, a traditional turn-based affair or a more action-oriented hack and slasher. Vivid Knight opts for a less common path where you’ll have the opportunity to help manage the welfare of your party of heroes, but in a more indirect way than you’d typically see. The way it works does take some getting used to, and while the in-game tutorial does a reasonable job of giving you the basics there’s a layer of tactics that it does take a little longer to grasp (or, at least for me) when it comes to effectively managing your party. That said, even if you’re in the process of working things out in the early going that shouldn’t prevent you from finding success. In general the degree of difficulty seems to slope pretty slowly, so that leaves you with some leeway in experimenting with strategy, party composition, and learning the ropes for how best to use the spells and abilities you’ll find along the way that give you more direct control over the fate of your team in battles. There are some small details like how I wish the hints to go with abilities I’ve used many times wouldn’t obscure the action of my party kicking some ass, but while the experience could use a bit more polish it’s at least a refreshing change of pace from the norm for RPGs on Switch.


The Company Man [Forust] - When you’re looking for a way to try to add some spice to a tried and true style of play in a game it doesn’t hurt to use theming that skewers an institution people generally understand. In the case of The Company Man the target is the corporate world, and in it you’ll be challenged to move up from the bottom rung of your company and literally fight your way to the top. With your trusty keyboard in hand you’ll need to knock out a wide variety of co-workers, put your dodging skills to the test, and face off in boss battles that will test your mettle. There’s good and bad here, but the one thing that consistently makes this an entertaining experience is its weirdo portrayal of the cubicle life which helps to compensate for what’s pretty generic platforming and action that isn’t helped by controls that could feel a bit tighter. Still, if you’re looking for something a little different, or have dreamed of climbing the ladder one defeated co-worker at a time, it may have some appeal.


Queeny Army [Al-link] - As a huge classic arcade run and gun shooter fan, having grown up on the likes of Contra, Rush’n Attack, and more, a quick look at Queeny Army caught my eye. In principle this is in the same vein, with you choosing your character (though, honestly, the differentiation between them feels limited to non-existent), and then running and jumping your way through enemies, shooting them up along the way. In practice though, even as a modern game there’s a lot of nuance and polish missing here that gets discouraging pretty quickly. Just in general the controls feel on the loose side, and when this is paired with too much of a reliance on platform jumping and enemies that have been deliberately placed to shoot and interrupt your actions there’s just a lot of cheap death to be found. A look at the details tends to hurt as well. In theory there’s a variety of weapons you could pick up but aside from what I’d consider mostly subtle differences in color or sound many of them fundamentally act the same way, and while these details may be small they do add up as you play and leave you with at best a middling impression of the overall experience. If you’re jonesing for a run and gun fix perhaps it would suffice, but honestly you’d be better off loading up some classics like Metal Slug rather than settling for this.


Nerf Legends [FUN Labs] - Licensed games are notorious for being hit or miss, though I’d say more often than not there’s a struggle games have to properly capture the essence of the thing they’re tied to. Nerf Legends struggles with this far more than the norm, with a pretty futuristic setting, an abundance of robots to shoot at, and “guns” that aesthetically look like Nerf launchers but in no way feel like they’re shooting darts or balls (whichever Nerf weapon you may be using). This creates a massive disconnect for me as a life-long Nerf fan, and it honestly feels like someone picked up a game in development and slapped the brand on it, not really concerning themselves with how good a match it was. If only that was all that was disappointing, it may not have been so bad. The problem is, the gameplay overall is generally terrible, with shooting that doesn’t have a great feel (and with plenty of competition on Switch shooter fans can tell the difference), far too much emphasis on first-person platforming which is a struggle to find enjoyable, and simply far too much repetition and bland play whether facing the single-player campaign or struggling to find someone to match up with online. What really stings the most is that this is a premium-priced game trying to compete with Nintendo’s own unique shooter, other well-known franchises, and even multiple free shooters like Fortnite and others which all play better than this. Though the Switch could use more FPS titles, it has enough that there’s no reason to be desperate enough to need to pick this one up.


Dyna Bomb [7Raven Studios] - There are budget games in the Nintendo Switch and then there are low-budget games. Depending on your tastes there are sometimes experiences that can intersect with your particular tastes, but on a general level these struggle for a variety of reasons to have appeal outside of their low price. Dyna Bomb, unfortunately falls into this trap with an almost Flash game graphical look, simplistic play, and even simple things like an interface that’s needlessly hard to navigate effectively to perform simple tasks. You’ll work to collect gems, blow up enemies with a limited supply of bombs, and get out of each puzzle-like stage alive. Nothing terribly challenging or discouraging, just in general a very bland experience.


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