Monday, February 7

Mini Reviews: February 7th Edition [Nintendo Switch eShop]

Sherlock Holmes: Crimes & Punishments [Frogwares] (Nindie Choice!) - Undoubtedly one of the most well-known literary figures of all time, the name Sherlock Holmes carries some clout with it, though over time it doesn’t feel like the game world has done him much justice. This point-and-click adventure attempts to turn that around, putting you into the shoes of the famous detective, challenged to solve a series of sometimes pretty grisly murders. While I wish the game did more to get you up and running, helping you to better understand some of its screens and systems, over the course of the first case you’ll get the feel for things, that is if you don’t periodically get stuck because you missed some key detail. Thankfully, once you understand the interface there are cues on whether a specific area or scene has been completed, making things a bit more smooth, but until you grasp them you can feel rudderless at times. All that said, the experience offered once you come to grips with the controls and interfaces is quite unique and will provide a fair challenge to your powers of deduction as you review the facts and look for connections to make as you advance towards determining your suspects based on what you’re able to find. As I said before, the road can be rocky in places, but the novelty of the experience is sufficient to make it worth a look if you enjoy a cracking good mystery.

Land of Screens [Serenity Forge] - Since the time I graduated from high school in the early 90s the world has changed substantially, and the traditional ways people have socialized and kept in touch has been revolutionized (and not always for the better) by the Internet. While a break-up has thrown Holland’s life into a bit of a spin, her challenge in trying to recover from it is generally trying to penetrate the screen-addicted shields of her friends and family as she tries to build or rebuild relationships the old-fashioned way, by talking directly with someone. The journey mixes both the likely familiar with some elements that are more quirky, but on a general level the social commentary and conversations offered are pretty fun to follow… and hopefully not too often a reflection of your own addiction or that of the people around you. For a budget affair the journey is a pretty refreshing one, and it keeps things like and pretty relatable throughout.

Maglam Lord [Felistella] - While I often fail to really “get” some of the titles that come my way that are driven by weirdo sensibilities and characters, every once in a while there’s at least one that amuses me. Mechanically the action RPG battles may not be as engaging as I’d like, with most of your success being driven by being sure to switch to the proper weapon class to deal with your various foes, but it’s really the oddball story and characters in this case that propel the experience. Your character happens to be a Demon Lord, formerly with the power to kill gods, but who now finds themselves as the last of their kind and considered an endangered species. Really, it’s not worth me trying to explain, you just need to roll with it. All of this leads you on a quest to regain your former power and dignity, while working with and sometimes clashing against the heroes who were your sworn enemies but who are now wielding you as a weapon to slay demons. Again, it’s strange and you’d need to just check it out, and if you’re game for an odd ride it will deliver one.

Swords & Bones [SEEP] - Perhaps the mistake here is in the attempts at marketing, but when you throw out the likes of Ghosts n’ Goblins or Castlevania as inspirations for your game you’re kind of teeing people up to expect a certain standard. Sure, Swords & Bones is a budget title, so crazy production values and depth may be asking a lot, but the very ho-hum side-scrolling slog, dealing almost entirely with the same monsters (or palette swaps of them), not having anything like weapon pick-ups to spice things up, and uninspired level designs really drain the energy out of the experience pretty quickly. Another odd choice is a Shop off the main menu where you’ll be able to spend the coins you slowly accumulate for some extra oomph in your bars, but in some cases also for being able to get to secrets you’ll see but have no means to get to in levels. Just overall it’s an odd bird and doesn’t inspire much enthusiasm to recommend.

Pandemic Shooter [Cave Games] - Games that are in some way timely to the circumstances of the world have a tendency to rely more on impulse buys than quality, at least that has been my experience. Pandemic Shooter, unfortunately, for the most part fits that mold quite well with its weird hodge podge of conspiracy-laden attempts at “humor” and no-frills first-person shooting. In some ways the game’s humor actually made me uncomfortable, not because I felt targeted but because there’s a degree of punching down in the repeated jokes at the expense of people who believe in really bizarre stuff out there. Again, not that I’m in any way sympathetic, just it feels mean-spirited and I didn’t find myself laughing at or with any of it. That the humor is the attempt to redeem the utterly forgettable maze of urban and other settings filled with various zombified targets to shoot with guns that ultimately tend to all blend together and it’s a pretty low effort affair, even for the price.

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