Wednesday, January 26

Mini Reviews: January 26th Edition [Nintendo Switch eShop]

Pyramid Quest [Entwickler-X] (Nindie Choice!) - My tendency with games is to gravitate towards things that are higher in intensity and will throw a challenge my way, but I’ve also come to appreciate slower-paced experiences over time as well. Pyramid Quest is one of those titles that helps make a case that slowing things down a little isn’t necessarily a bad thing. With a very retro feel that actually reminds me quite a lot of another indie, The Adventures of Elena Temple, you’ll be playing the part of an explorer in search of fortune and glory, but who’ll need to be quite careful trying to attain it. While initially I found that my greatest enemy was generally my lack of patience as I needed to wait for a trap to reset or a platform to shift, once I settled in the more relaxed pace was welcome and made it easier to simply appreciate rather than be rattled by. You’ll especially need to be careful with your limited supply of knives for attacking, requiring you to more often avoid enemies rather than dispatch them, but otherwise aside from keeping an eye out for hidden areas and working out the layout of every given stage so you can grab the pieces you’ll need to move on the game is an enjoyable mix of puzzling and action that won’t leave you as frazzled as most games in the same space.

Baby Storm [Baby Corp] - What I genuinely love about indie games is their ability to surprise me. Walking into Baby Storm I’d have to say my expectations were pretty low, not sure what the game would be like, just that it looked kind of cutesy and goofy, so I was afraid that was to compensate for merely average gameplay. While it’s hardly perfect, and certainly won’t be for everyone, I’m happy to say I was surprised with the result though. Imagine a time management simulator ala the likes of Overcooked, but rather than working as a chef in a kitchen you’ve been assigned to manage a bunch of unruly little diaper-clad monsters in a daycare. It starts out innocently enough, needing to grab them a favorite toy, or give them a hug, but once diaper changing gets into the mix it quickly becomes as much about managing gross messes as keeping the little tykes from bawling their eyes out. While it is certainly playable solo this definitely feels like a game that would benefit from more than one set of hands, so you can play it with up to a group of 4, and that sort of coverage would really help to play a zone defense, allowing perhaps 2 people to focus on kid management, and the other two to simply stay on patrol for clean-up duty. How long this would remain fun would be a fair question, even if the layouts and added complexity in tasks try to not allow you to get into too much of a comfort zone, but if you’re looking for something a bit more goofy that is willing to throw poopy diapers all over and test your ability to stay in control it’s at least entertaining.

Reverie Knights Tactics [40 Giants Entertainment] - Tactical strategy RPGs have gotten some decent traction over the years since launch on Switch, but to date no indie game in the category has broken out as the clear champion in the category. To Reverie Knights Tactics credit, it has a reasonably strong base that works well in terms of the layouts of its battlegrounds, the eventual diversity and control you’ll have over your party and their abilities, and in trying to wrap it all in an engaging story. My issue, at least in the ramping up over the first hour plus, is that it’s a bit of a chore to get the momentum going with some interest. This slow start, filled with a lot of verbiage but short on engaging plot, is a bit of a slog and may sour people simply out for a strategic challenge. On a general level the game has merit, and if you have some patience it does at least bare some reasonably-decent fruit, but unfortunately it doesn’t make any stronger a case as clearly being the one to beat in this category, leaving which one is truly the best more a question of your tastes in difficulty and style.

PopSlinger [Funky Can Creative] - As a fan of new and odd ideas, the thought of a game that has a mix of elements from beat-em-ups, shooters, and a little music to boot sounded like it had real potential. While PopSlinger can’t be faulted for being generic or too much like anything else out there, its issue is that in a variety of ways it simply doesn’t come together… at least not well. The more lane-based way that beat-em-ups roughly set you up against your enemies is well-worn and works well… at least for very close combat moves like punches or kicks. I found that the same setup isn’t so desirable when you’re trying to shoot enemies instead, it has a tendency to make it a bit awkward even. You can hold down and keep firing continuously but since chains of the same colored enemies impart essential power-ups you’ll need the further you get you’re left to trying to be precise or you’ll lose those benefits, which tends to make things tougher. Doing nothing to help, the view will zoom in and out depending on the situation, but too often I felt like the space shown was too cramped a view, and even worse stray shots off the screen could easily hit an enemy of an incorrect color breaking your chain. This convergence of annoyances could have perhaps been tamped down by great overall play but while the experience is distinct I can’t say it’s likely going to be a match for most people out there, unless you truly just appreciate novelty, no matter how shakily implemented.

Survive on Raft [Megame] - Among the genres represented on the Switch, survival is one of the thinner ones, so new entries are always appreciated. Survive on the Raft’s name may be among the most on-the-nose of titles out there… you’ll be trying to survive… on a raft (that thankfully seems to have a nearly never-ending supply of crates and materials strewn on the water). Among its peers the one thing on its side, without a doubt, is that where you’re operating from is unique, and that’s not without some merit. That said, there’s no getting away from the fact that it’s also decidedly bare bones with its look, how elements like fishing are poorly implemented, and nothing stands out as truly notable. The novelty may be enough to make it worth a look, but don’t mistake it for a great representation of the genre on the system.

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