Category Archives: Switch Reviews

Donut County – Review

Donut County is a unique indie puzzler, featuring an adorable racoon intent on stealing trash and a town full of animal residents just waiting to be stolen from. Released over a year ago, does this award-winning indie adventure still hold up, or does age expose some previously unseen holes?

A hole lot of fun:


The player is dropped intoin the life of BK, a young racoon who has recently landed a new job at a start-up company that collects trash by the careful manoeuvring of portable remote control holes. Each level begins with the player clicking somewhere to summon a hole which, although initially tiny, gradually grows and grows in size with the more objects (and even unlucky Hole County residents!) that end up sucked into it.

Larger holes reward your progress by allowing you to swallow even larger objects which in turn help to increase the size of your hole, creating a supremely satisfying gameplay loop. This satisfaction is further amplified by the fact that your hole-size is reset in-between each of the self-contained sandbox levels. Working your way up from a tiny rabbit-hole that struggles to suck up even a few blades of grass to a colossal sink-hole that effortlessly absorbs entire skyscrapers just doesn’t get old no matter how many times it is repeated.

As the game progresses, you gradually unlock new abilities for your hole – such as a catapult which allows the player to hurl certain objects back into the air. These are used to facilitate the majority of the puzzles found throughout the game. Whilst these puzzles are not particularly difficult, even I who considers myself extremely puzzle-inept never had to resort to an online guide, they are spread-out enough and provide just the right level of mental stimulation to keep what would otherwise be a fairly simplistic game engaging throughout.

Heart and design:


A soothing yet upbeat soundtrack compliments Donut County‘s pleasing pastel aesthetic which is just soft enough to evoke feelings of calm and warmth yet still vibrant and quirky. It’s a perfect fit, and one that makes playing a highly relaxing experience. Although minimalist in design, levels each have their own unique and memorable look – usually matching the personality or appearance of their associated characters. Moving from a rural countryside farm to the likes of a desert to a city street helps provide a much needed pallet swap every now and then.

This colourful coat of paint makes Donut County perfect for younger gamers. It’s not too difficult, and they would certainly enjoy the charming design and appreciate the pleasing tactility of the physics engine.

This colourful coat of paint makes Donut County perfect for younger gamers. It’s not too difficult, and they would certainly enjoy the charming design and appreciate the pleasing tactility of the physics engine.

Not without its holes:


I found these cut scenes often overstayed their welcome – an issue amplified by the lack of voice acting. Reading dialogue boxes accompanied by randomised babble, à la Animal Crossing, simply isn’t engaging enough to carry a game that tries to focus so heavily on story. Sometimes the humour was a little jarring too. In comedy it’s natural that for every laugh, there are a couple of jokes that fall flat. In most circumstances is not an issue but when the vast majority of dialogue is comprised of jokes, it starts to feel like every other line is yet another wearisome punchline.

There are also long “texting” scenes in which you sit and watch your character receive SMS messages, stirring occasionally to either send a duck emoji (which does nothing) or clicking a single on-screen prompt to reply. Without the colourful aesthetic of the over world or the animated bouncing of characters to keep your mind occupied, these scenes are quite frankly monotonous. They also seem like a bit of a missed opportunity. Implementing an option to choose which reply you send would be a great way to add a small element of replayability to the game.

This lack of replayability is probably the biggest issue with Donut County. Clocking in at slightly over two hours, this short length is simply not enough content for the over £10 PC price-tag and the total lack of replayability and reliance on a linear story makes this a title harder to recommend than it otherwise would be.

The hole picture:


Despite its flaws, Donut County is nevertheless a charming and memorable adventure. In spite of the fact it may struggle a little to wholly justify its hefty price-tag at its rustiest points, frequent half-price sales since launch make this title just a little too tempting to pass up, even for those who don’t feel wholly convinced. As a little bonus, the low seasonal sale prices make Donut County a great option as a Christmas gift for your Steam friends.

Speaking of sales, as if by magic, Donut County is on a half-price discount for a few days! You can check it out by clicking on the link below.

SuperEpic: The Entertainment War – Review


Disclosure: To aid this review a copy of  SuperEpic: The Entertainment War was provided free of charge by Numskull Games


SuperEpic: The Entertainment War, an indie-developed sidescroller, successfully delivers a best-in-class Metroidvania adventure that confidently mocks the slew of AAA games it has managed to supersede.

In the world of SuperEpic, greedy corporate pigs (literal pigs might I add) have bought out every game developer and are now pumping out mass-produced highly-addictive mobile titles that have entranced the populace and are draining their wallets at about the same rate as a Steam Christmas Sale. The adorable raccoon protagonist Tan Tan and his facially deformed llama steed, Ola, must whack, slap and thwack their way through swathes of RegnantCorps’ evil employees to put an end to their vile videogames for good.

Conveyed through cutscenes of pleasing animated slides and walls of text, the plot is certainly not one of subtlety. Although it does little to reinvent the wheel in terms of its retro presentation and simplistic writing, the plot of SuperEpic provides a decent number of chuckles and more importantly creates a perfect unobtrusive skeleton upon which the game’s excellent gameplay can be hung.

A classic Metroidvania, SuperEpic boasts large hand-crafted levels that can be explored in a non-linear fashion. The handy minimap is an excellent addition, and one that would have greatly benefitted other games in the genre. Being able to avoid confusion makes exploring levels and finding the plethora of hilarious hidden secrets dotted throughout levels even more rewarding.

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Exploration is littered with enemy encounters and gripping boss fights. Revolving around three attacks – a quick attack, guard break, and uppercut – the combo-oriented combat is deceptively simple. Whilst button mashing may get you through most levels, far more rewarding is the intricate mastery of each induvidual move and learning of unique button combinations.

The combat is also extremely satisfying, largely due to the brilliantly meaty sound effects and neon hit indicators. Furthermore, the impressive variety of unlockable weaponry – raning from household cleaning tools to comedic hammers allows the combat to retain a fresh feeling throughout the game and leaves you thirsting for more by the time the credits roll.

Handily, SuperEpic also includes an unlockable “roguelite mode”, a procedually generated challenge which gives you an even greater opportunity to amass huge quantities of the coins dropped by every enemy.  These coins can be used to further upgrade your weaponry and armour and add an additional satifsying dimension of progression.

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SuperEpic is also jam-packed with minigames. Scanning QR codes scattered throughout levels opens webpages containing short flash games on your mobile phone. Tongue in cheek parodies of popular mobile titles like Flappy Bird, these minigames are presented in-universe and provide an awful lot of world building. The use of QR codes also ahad me surpsingly immersed in the games’ universe, although I can’t help but feel such technology would be of greater service to a more plot-oriented title. Nevertheless, I would highly recommend going out of your way to try and exploring thouroughly in order to experience all of these optional extras.

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In addition to your mobile phone, for PC players I would also recommend bringing a controller to your play session. Whilst the developers have done an adequate job of mapping the 4-button control scheme to your keyboard, a controller really helps recapture some of the button-mashing nostalgia of your childhood.

Alternatively, the Nintendo Switch version of the game works like a dream. Speedy loading times and smooth-as-butter performance make curling up in a warm bed with the switch in handheld mode and therapeutically punching pigs to a pulp an absolute treat. The handheld version also helps you to appreciate the sublime 32-bit sprite animation, which is beautifully detailed and clearly the recipient of a great deal of love and care.

It’s not just the animations that have recieved love and care either. Everything from the pause screen in which you can practise your combo attacks to the detailed and varied enemy designs seems meticulously crafted and as such can offer a game that has as much, and often times far more, polish than the majoirty of AAA titles. This sustained superiority helps emphasise the importance of the games’ overriding message.

SuperEpic is in its very execution a commentary on the modern gaming market. In an age of over-inflated budgets and multi-million pound videogames stuffed to the brim with predatory microtransactions and vicious payment models, it’s really heartening to see a good old-fashioned indie title that is able to so severly outclass its competition.

Overall, SuperEpic: The Entertainment War is able to comfortably fulfil its lofty ambition to deliver a satisfying parody of the modern games. Although its writing may be too on-the-nose for some, this is more than made up for in the game’s gameplay which is the absolute pinnacle of indie sidescrolling action.

If you’re interested in playing SuperEpic: The Entertainment War, the game will launch on the Steam Store later this month in addition to the Nintendo eShop, Microsoft Store and Playstation Store.

 

Morphies Law: Remorphed – Review


Disclosure: To aid this review a copy of Morphies Law: Remorphed was provided free of charge by Cosmoscope GmbH


To say Cosmoscope‘s Morphies Law fell victim to Murphy’s law would have been a fairly ironic turn of events – and it was very much almost the case. In spite of a lacklustre Nintendo Switch launch, Cosmoscope admirably kept hard at work acting readily upon player feedback and nurtruing the game’s strong core fanbase. Almost one year later and Morphies Law has finally relaunched (or Remorphed) and accompanying it’s new PC release is a whole host of fantastic new features.

It’s not hard to say the concept behind Morphies Law is a very unique one. You shoot your enemies, or even your allies, to absorb their mass and grow and you lose your hard earned mass when hit. It sounds extremely simple, but the gameplay houses a surprisingly great deal of depth.

For one thing, matches are inherently self-balancing. The best players of either team will naturally become the biggest having absorbed the most enemies. A bigger body makes them bigger targets and a bigger target is one that can be hit more easily by a less skilled and less accurate player. Every match of Morphies Law plays quite a lot like the Call of Duty series’ Juggernaut gamemode, and it’s an awful lot of fun.

The goal of a match isn’t always just to gain the most mass either. Your aims vary drastically between game modes; from the most basic  “Morph Match”, a weight based take on a common deathmatch, to the manic “Head Hunt”, a pandemonic bid to capture your team’s misplaced giant head.

Mass also affects the capabilities of your “Butt rocket”, a rectal take on a jetpack, which, on the contrary to my basic understanding of physics, seems to become far more effective the heavier you are. Your size can also change the routes available to you while you navigate your environment. Huge morphies can jump to high vantage points and even trample over powerful fans which would send less fortunate lighter players flying to their deaths. Being small also has some perks, allowing you to dash in between the legs of enemies and find hidden tunnels through which you can scurry like a pesky neon-painted mouse.

A morphie high up in the food chain

The extremely fun gameplay is accompanied by a set of fantastically designed and delightfully varied maps. Although in the original release a few of the maps were veering a little towards the annoying side – seriously, as cool as fighting on an oil-flooded tanker sounds, the sliding around did get pretty infuriating – the Remorphed update has addressed this, and even added a few new sites to explore.

The refined version of the original maps and the all new ones added in Remorphed each bring their own unique set of hazards and a distinct theme. One match you could be exploring an ancient Aztec temple whilst the next takes you to a western town that is constantly sinking into quicksand.

Although very different, each map still adheres to the game’s great overall art style; a colourful day of the dead pastiche with plenty of cacti and neon lighting. The game’s soundtrack is a fittingly over-the-top mix of Mexican melodies, which can be pretty catchy at times. If your character’s stock aesthetic of full skeletal body paint is a little too subtle for you, can dive into the game’s host of extensive customisation actions.

One can change the body and face paint with presets, or even use the more in-depth editor to mix and match to create your own whacky design. Even animations can be customised by choosing new emotes or match introductions. Most impressive of all is the weapon customisation system, which has you combining two parts (a primary fire and a secondary fire) to create a gun that is utterly unique to you. Additionally, the new weapons added in Remorphed all make solid additions to your arsenal and are certainly appreciated.

Levelling up grants new weapons and piñatas, which are the game’s crate system. By hitting open piñatas you can obtain cosmetics. You’ll be pleased, no doubt, to hear that there are absolutely no microtransactions in sight as the crates and currency, metal nuts, can be gained solely by levelling up completing quests.

On a technical level, optimisation is good with the game running well on the Nintendo Switch whilst looking decent and running extremely smoothly on PC whilst looking a little nicer. The menus look good and are easy to navigate and UI is clean and can be understood readily at a glance. One thing I would change is the game’s current hit sound. The current one is a tad underwhelming – being a little twinkling noise – and something with a little more “oomph” wouldn’t go a miss.

The game supports cross-play between the PC and Switch which is good at bolstering player numbers. For when you want a little alone time; you can always have a blast with the game in configurable offline modes with bots.

Overall, although the original Morphies Law was a good idea hampered by a lack of refinement; Morphies Law: Remorphed is a good idea perfected. With very strong and unique gameplay, that has only improved through the frequent developer updates, Morphies Law: Remorphed is a constantly evolving shooter that you won’t want to put down and gains a strong recommendation from me.

As a nice little bonus, try out Morphies Law: Remorphed for free by downloading the hilarious Steam Demo here. If you fancy a less flatulent version, you can buy the full game on both PC and Nintendo Switch.

Tennis – Review

Priced at just under £5 Tennis is one of the cheapest games on the Switch eshop. Boasting simple controls and promising to bring you “the joy that tennis brings” surely even a cheap game by a tiny developer can capture at least some of the fun of tennis? It’s not that hard… right?

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The promotional image for Tennis

First impressions were poor. All 139MB of game loaded almost instantly, a sure guarantee of quality, and I was greeted by the main menu. Problems arose almost immediately when I attempted to navigate said menu. Controlling the very erratic and overly sensitive select pointer with a joystick is an immensely frustrating experience.

 

You are offered a choice of “Rally challenge”, “Tournament” and “Custom play” (although good luck actually being able to select any of them with the pointer). All three modes are pretty much the same. In “Rally challenge” you try and keep a long rally and if you miss the ball you fail. In “Tournament” you need to hit the ball back and forth and if you miss twice you fail. “Custom play” is just the tournament mode except you can choose the map you play and your opponent.

After you’ve picked a mode you are subjected to Tennis‘ “gameplay”. Gameplay is so barebones it may as well be a skeleton. You have one button. The A button. This button serves and hits. This will be the only button you press in the course of a match as your character is piloted by not you, but an AI. There isn’t much in the way of challenge. You just press the A button. Forever. The game is also touchscreen compatible, so once your A button breaks from overuse you can tap until you have RSI.

In the music department, things are just monotonous royalty free loops which slowly bore into your brain with every minute spent playing. The voice acting for characters is awful, each character has a grunting noise for hits and a line they say when they win. Every character is uniquely cringeworthy and painful in their own rights.

This is all Tennis has to offer bar achievements, which are generally variations of “hit the ball X many times”. Collecting all the achievements might do something, but I doubt anyone will ever play more than 10 minutes of this game to find out.

Don’t Knock Twice – Review

Don’t knock twice is a first person horror game by developer Wales Interactive for PC, Xbox one, Playstation 4 and Nintendo Switch. It appears to be loosely based of a film of the same and, although more poorly than the film, tells roughly the same story.

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Graphically, Don’t Knock Twice is very impressive. Each individual room of the grand mansion in which the game takes place seems lovingly detailed and is very genuine. The texture work is also impressive and even the Switch version, which appears to have had a slight graphically downgrade, is still fairly good looking.

Unfortunately, the impressive visuals are about the only thing Don’t Knock Twice has going for it and is, at its core, an incredibly uninspired and boring experience. The “horror” aspect of Don’t Knock Twice is incredibly underutilised. Although the story that the game attempts to tell is genuinely quite terrifying it is told through a series of notes or newspaper articles which you may or may be bothered enough to read.

The only other horror aspect of the game are the few incredibly predictable and very average jumpscares, each of which seriously battles against unintentional comedy – and often fails. Having scares with this level of poor execution is to be expected of a crappy Steam Greenlight title cobbled together in an hour or so by a team of IT students for their summer project not a full disc release game.

The game’s audio design is poor and the music is at times quite unpleasant to listen to. Each “scary” moment is accompanied by a mad slamming of piano keys which just obliterates any genuinely tense or scary atmosphere the game had built up.

What a “terrifying” painting.

On the subject of obliterating the game’s atmosphere, what was the deal with paintings in this game? Each room or corridor was practically filled with portraits. After looking at a painting and turning around the painting would change. Figures in it would become zombified or covered in blood. This was at best mildly disconcerting but after you discover that, with the exception of one right at the beginning of the game which opted to fly off the wall instead, literally every single painting does this, it becomes hilarious.

When I deliberately turned my back on a painting and turned around to see it change, the effect was reminiscent of a mother hiding behind her hands to amuse her child in a game of hide and seek. It was almost beyond belief how resoundingly not scary almost every aspect of Don’t Knock Twice manages to be.

The few puzzles the game has to offer were quite interesting and the bathroom steam puzzle was particularly good. Unfortunately, they are very easy to solve and the genuine interest and enjoyment the puzzles managed to create are completely undermined by the general awfulness of the rest of the game.

The plot, which seems to be a skimmed down version of the film’s plot, was so generic and predictable that within about five minutes of playing I had predicted almost exactly how it would end and nailed the ending “twist”. The predictability of the plot isn’t exactly helped by the game’s incredibly short runtime, which gave the story little to no time to develop.

Those first five minutes I played encompassed almost 10% of the game’s total runtime and easily 100% of what it had to offer.

Forget about knocking twice. I wouldn’t recommend even knocking once.

Knight Terrors – Review

Knight Terrors currently sits proudly as the cheapest game on the Nintendo Switch’s estore; but is it worth picking up?

The short answer is yes. The long answer is yeeeeees.

With interesting visuals, fun gameplay and a very low price point, what is there to lose in buying this game? At £2.69 Knight Terrors costs less than an everyday cup of coffee, and will certainly last you a lot longer.

Knight Terrors is an endless runner in its simplest form. Much like the infamous Flappy Bird, from which Knight Terrors obviously drew some inspiration, it’s this apparent simplicity which gives this game a strangely addictive quality.

The game also benefits just from being on the Switch. The crisp buttons of the Nintendo Joy-cons make Knight Terrors‘ two button gameplay a treat. Knight Terrors is also a game that is easy and fun to pick up and play, making it a perfect way to kill some time in handheld mode whilst on the move.

There are four distinct game modes to unlock, loads of unique power-ups and plenty of monsters to discover and slay. The pixelated graphics are complimented well by the music, a simplistic yet pleasant collection of various chip-tunes.

Whether you want a game to occupy you for afew hours on journey, want to get rid of some leftover quid in your Nintendo Wallet, or just want an enjoyable endless runner; Knight Terrors is the game for you.

Lego City Undercover and Lego Worlds – Review

From developers Traveller’s Tales comes two games; Lego City Undercover and Lego Worlds. Both games are vastly different in content yet are similarly flawed.

Lege City Undercover

The Nintendo Switch’s game library can be described as sparsely populated at best and some Lego game ports from other consoles were a much needed addition to help bolster the rather pathetic numbers.

Lego City Undercover was the first Switch Lego game I purchased and after £59.99 of disappointment it was very nearly the last. The problem with Lego City Undercover isn’t the game itself, the WiiU version was hilarious and uniquely charming whereas the Switch port is just a slideshow. Playing in handheld mode just isn’t a viable an option for this game. In handheld mode, Lego City Undercover barely tops 20 frames per second and is quite frankly nauseating.

The docked version isn’t much better averaging around 25 frames per second and dropping as low as 10 at some times. When playing co-op in handheld mode, it runs at 5-10 fps and just about double that when docked. As Lego City Undercover was marketed as a “fun for all the family” co-op was a major selling point, this atrocious performance is unacceptable.

How a game optimised this poorly was cleared for release is beyond me. With no patches, as of writing, Lego City Undercover for the Switch is certainly one to avoid.

Lego Worlds

Lego Worlds was the second Switch Lego game I purchased. Curiously, I couldn’t quite put my finger on Lego Worlds‘s target audience. Young children would surely find the building mode too complex and the missions confusing. Most adults would find the missions immensely dull and repetitive and not have enough free time to master the building mode.

The aforementioned building mode is the main focus of Lego Worlds. Almost all missions reward you with new tools and bricks to create with. The building mode is surprisingly in-depth allowing for a huge range of customisation and creation options, however, the game rarely gives you an opportunity to use them.

Sure, they can be used in the many building based missions but devoting an hour into building a small mission-specific house that you will probably never even come back to is alittle pointless. Lego Worlds could be easily improved with the simple addition of a hub world; a place where you can easily return to and showcase your new building items.

So, with boring missions and a somewhat redundant building mode, what makes Lego Worlds one of my most played Switch games?

The world generation.

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A completely randomly generated town in Lego Worlds

The world generation in Lego Worlds is astonishing. With countless biomes, infinite planets to explore, deep cave networks and hundreds of characters to interact with; you will keep coming back for more. Lego Worlds also excels in the graphics department and is visually stunning. The Switch port also runs perfectly, even outperforming the Xbox one and PS4 at some times. Handheld mode is less impressive but still perfectly playable.

With Lego Worlds running so perfectly, you are left to wonder what exactly went so badly wrong with the, graphically inferior, Lego City UndercoverLego Worlds is by no means great, it is still quite flawed, but it is still a hugely enjoyable experience and one I would recommend to everybody.