Wednesday, February 2

Mini Reviews: February 2nd Edition [Nintendo Switch eShop]

The Artful Escape [Beethoven & Dinosaur] (Nindie Choice!) - One opportunity that the smaller teams and budgets behind typical indie games have is to take bigger risks, either blending together or warping genres to create experiences that are difficult to categorize. The Artful Escape very much falls into that category, throwing a few different styles of play at you throughout the experience (with none being particularly complex or taxing) to add some flavor to an inspiring story concerning a young artist discovering himself and his passion. Colorful, and at times almost trippy, the game is a visual feast but the music is also a treat, and some surprisingly notable voice talent being involved helps to make for a pretty complete package. If you’re looking for action or a challenge, it definitely won’t be for you since this is a very story-forward title, but if you’re looking to come along on an inspiring ride full of discovery it’s a strong choice.

Unforeseen Incidents [ASHGAMES] (Nindie Choice!) - With the classic point-and-click adventure genre in full-on renaissance mode and a preponderance of options available to fans on the Switch it’s getting tougher to separate the merely average titles from the good to great ones. Choosing a slightly darker path than most, Unforeseen Incidents isn’t short on great interactions and witty humor, but given that the backdrop for the story involves trying to discover the secret behind the spread of a deadly disease the stakes here are a bit more weighty, and appreciated for the change of pace. In particular the game’s art style suits the characters and events well, having a grittier graphic novel kind of edge than the more typically cartoony look associated with the genre, helping the experience really come together over its surprisingly long runtime. As always, you’ll find there are times where you’ll stumble over a particular puzzle, or some necessary chain of events won’t feel clear, but that’s a pretty well standard issue problem within the space. If you’re a genre fan who has been looking for something that will break from the norm and deliver something distinctive this definitely fits the bill.

Super Onion Boy 2 [Ratalaika Games] - Making budget games that in some way feel familiar when compared to beloved classics is always a bit of a gamble, but when they’re pulled off reasonably well and offer just enough to make them distinctive it can work out nicely. Super Onion Boy 2 has some clear inspirations in its core design, but it also distinguishes itself quite clearly with its own set of power-ups and quirks that give it some appeal as well. Most definitely tuned, as a whole, on the more lenient and easy side it’s also very well-suited to gamers of just about any experience level, an added plus for people looking for titles that can be accessible to younger or simply newer gamers as well. Granted, in terms of the bigger picture if you’re looking for inspired level design or real depth it comes up a big short in that area but if you’re simply looking for a way to enjoy a few hours without taxing yourself terribly, tackling challenges that are a mix of new and familiar, this is a surprisingly decent investment.

Theatre of Sorrows [Cat-astrophe Games] - Titles that lean more into intricate story-telling than mechanical gameplay have definitely become more common in the current era than they were previously but are also, no doubt, more of an acquired taste. Theatre of Sorrows certainly falls into this category, establishing its suspenseful horror essence from its well-written prose that’s complemented by static images rather than through fully interactive play. The thing is, having played quite a number of lackluster walking simulator-esque contemporaries of the game, I’ll at least say that the very descriptive text here is at least generally more effective than periodic jump scares as you walk through sterile environments. That said, the very random nature of how you’ll need to explore and hope for the best to avoid danger (and death) while collecting the elements crucial to your progress can also be aggravating. You’ll need to hope that a mix of your intuition and the favor of the RNG gods are enough to help you skate by at times, and you can be left feeling at the mercy of the whims of the game at times rather than being in control of your own fate. Still, if you enjoy creeping horror and can take some frustrating setbacks at times it has a distinct appeal within the eShop.

Pirate’s Gold [Asylum Square Interactive - Games that have either come from, or at least simply feel more suited to, the mobile space on Switch are always a bit trickier to evaluate. Pirate’s Gold falls into that category with its visual simplicity, puzzle style that favors touchscreen play, and generally casual-friendly difficulty. The objective, on a general level, is sliding objects around the screen to either match either other with a growing variety of elements to help complicate that along the way, whether directional arrows, dynamite, or other implements. Playing docked is possible, with you using the controller to move an on-screen scimitar as your pointer, but for things like trying to grab coins it can be a bit sluggish. The touchscreen is more obviously preferable, but it does tend to make you reflect on whether you need to play it on a dedicated gaming device a bit. It at least sports a reasonable budget price, so if you’re craving a puzzle experience that’s easily playable on the go and isn’t a dime a dozen already on the platform it may suit you.

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