Friday, June 3

Mini Reviews: June 3rd Edition [Nintendo Switch eShop]

Card Shark [Nerial] (Nindie Choice!) - Bless the indie developers who are determined to take ideas that may sound a bit crazy in concept and run with them, revealing potential new avenues of play to enjoy! Card Shark is just such a game. In principle it’s a game revolving around gambling and cards, but how you play works in a completely different direction than you’d expect for the most part. In terms of play, the best thing to describe it as is a memory game, oddly enough. Learning numerous tricks and techniques as you try to stay a few steps ahead of suspicious aristocrats, this is a game where you’ll need every ounce of intense focus and concentration to quickly assess and understand the hand or hands on the table and then properly convey that information to your accomplice, ensuring underhanded victory. While at first this may not seem to be too taxing, the further you move along the more demanding it becomes, always raising the stakes and effort higher, giving you that thrill of being on both the edge of wild success and utter failure. It absolutely won’t be a guaranteed success for everyone, but if you’re thirsting for something that dares to be different it’s absolutely worth your time to check out!

Behind the Frame [Silver Lining Studio] (Nindie Choice!) - While I love blasting off faces and racing to the finish line, there’s absolutely something to be said for slowing down and taking in the beauty of the world. Behind the Frame absolutely encourages that mentality, focusing on a mix of the routine, observing and appreciating the world around you, and solving some rather simple but often quite wonderful puzzles as you go. Creativity exhibits itself a few different ways, and given its more mobile-esque roots there’s no surprise that it’s tendency is towards touchscreen-friendly play, though that translates just fine to a controller as well if you want to play it on a big screen. There’s no doubt that it was over quicker than I would have liked, clocking in only at a scant few hours, but there’s also no question that it’s a wonderful ride while you’re on it.

Lamplight City [Grundislav Games] (Nindie Choice!) - As a fan of both classic adventure titles and games with a unique sense of time and place, Lamplight City is an easy layup for me in some regards. That said, it also makes some choices I could see people going either way with. If what you’re seeking places the emphasis on more traditional point-and-click adventure play, the approach the developers took probably won’t have as much appeal, as it tends to be more straightforward with its approach though what puzzles it does have can be satisfying. If instead what you’re looking for are some engrossing characters and cases that will suck you in and sometimes force you to make tough choices, some of which will lead down quite different paths and to different outcomes, then it’s quite a bit more interesting. While it doesn’t necessarily add greatly to the overall experience I’m a bit fascinated by the effort taken to have somewhat dynamic lighting appear on the pixel art characters, consistent with the title’s name. Mix that with ongoing connection to your former partner and trying to work out the mystery surrounding his demise and it all comes together to provide an appreciated sense of depth. If you don’t mind the less “gamey” focus here, and enjoy the process of working through a case, this game’s approach has some appeal.

TOKOYO: The Tower of Perpetuity [Commentout] - As long-time readers will well know, I’m a fan of novel ideas. The big sell for Tokoyo is that every day the challenge you (and everyone else playing it) will face will be different and new, as the tower you must try to conquer is in flux. You’ll need to choose your character, each having slightly different means of attack and movement, and simply see how far you can go… and as the day goes on you’ll continue to see more and more graves of the fallen along the way who have succumbed to its challenges. It can certainly get tricky, with the primary focus being on precise platforming. You build energy to then perform your attack(s) in one large and extended burst, but once it ends you’ll need to rely on your agility and guile to stay alive until it recharges, and this tends to make any boss encounters particularly tense. It’s absolutely a unique idea, and it has some charm, but I’d also consider it an all or nothing proposition for whether people will dig it. Mechanically and in terms of design it’s more middling, but if you enjoy games with Daily Challenges to return to for a bit on a regular basis this definitely scratches that itch nicely.

EleMetals: Death Metal Death Match [RedDeerGames] - First and foremost I’ll give EleMetals credit for going all in on its head banging style. I’m one of those people who consider pretty well all forms of (good) metal underappreciated, so it warms my heart to see (and hear) games that break it out for some appropriate fun. All of that said, at its core this is still, as its name implies, a game 100% focused on providing an arena for you and some friends (or bots) to laugh and carry on while destroying each other… though in my experience the environments themselves may be the most lethal threats out there. You’ll jump, boost, deflect fire (if you’re willing to risk it), shoot, and try to grab the power-ups when they appear, trying to be the last rocker standing. With some friends it does make for a loud and good time, though I’d certainly question its longevity given its simpler one-note nature and relatively small collection of arenas to fight in.

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