Zarvot really is a gem of Nintendo’s growing ‘Nindie’ platform from 2018, providing players with a relatable and adorable cast of cubes with various personalities and skills. The players’ protagonist ‘Charcoal’ is a light-hearted leader that keeps the family together (Ron Burgundy) whilst his accomplice ‘Mustard’ takes on more of a ‘Brick Tamlyn’ role. It’s a beautiful / tried and tested formula that is brought to life wonderfully throughout Zarvots oddly brilliant reality.
Ron and Brick
Let’s take the opening plot of Zarvot for example; Charcoal and Mustard are putting together a collection of items for their friend ‘Red’s’ Birthday (Guess what colour he is?). The last item on their list is an ‘Organic Bannana’. Traversing the ‘on the rails’ in-game world is about as safe as buying Milk from Facebook Marketplace, Charcoal and co. Are constantly attacked by antagonists in the guise of Rogue bananas, Evil milk cartons and more.
Visually, it is packed with mid century cinema references such as floaty camera control, flickering chapter titles, out of focus shots with just the right dose of what I like to call ‘Glow Lighting’. For all of Zarvots charm, it all feels a little wasted when the floating camera goes rogue and moves a protagonists text bubble out of frame.
Zarvot’s courses and general texture work is beautiful, that is bar the protagonists. It seems that the real skill behind closed doors at Snowhydra is getting monotone textures to behave and look smooth. Shadow glitches and incorrect shades are rampant on our Cubic protagonists.
The humour in Zarvot is quintessentially British. For example, a cube is waiting outside a Coffee shop, losing his mind over not getting his morning ‘cuppa’. This later escalates to the LadyBird owner of the Coffee shop stating he has no cups, sarcastically explaining that he would have to brew it inside the irate Cubes mouth. The irate Cube goes on to repeatedly stating in capitals: ‘POUR IT IN MY MOUTH!’. It’s a labour of love to be sure!
The sound engineering in Zarvot is nothing groundbreaking but serves the plot, characters and gameplay well. No action missed a beat and all sound effects were within the realm of what they represent. In fact, the OST captures the idea of normal day-to-day life with its subtle tones and modest range, focusing on making sure sound effects correctly illustrate and immersive the subject matter.
So readers: I’ve thrown a spanner in the works this time around and left my thoughts on gameplay until the very end of the review. Want to fight about it? No? Grand!
So, How Does it Play?
Three buttons support the simplistic yet addictive combat rituals that are best served awesome in Zarvot. A, B and X represent dash/dodge, jump and shoot respectively. Whilst moving Charcoal through courses, players will need to utilise their arsenal of movement and light bullets to fend off aforementioned antagonists as well as using environments to their advantage (Mostly being destructive walls that come in an array of formations).
Players will find themselves trapped locked zones throughout courses which pit players against an onslaught of various enemies, which can get very addictive! The best part about the gameplay is, that’s it! It’s such a simple idea, but it’s done well and it’s polished. A prime example of a title knowing what it wants to achieve and hitting it’s goals.
Overall Score: 8/10
Zarvot is a title that you probably didn’t realise you needed. It’s been hiding in plain sight on the eShop since October last year, and I feel like a swine for not covering this sooner. It has everything it needs to cut itself a little piece of niche grassland from the evergreen world of the Nindie scene. Nintendo Switch owners can buy Zarvot by using a credit/debit card or by throwing legal tender at the console’s screen.
**Disclaimer, Reggie Reviews does not endorse cash payment on Digital stores. Please consult your local bank or common sense on such tom foolery before jumping aboard the ‘Jolly Prat’**
Format: Nintendo Switch (reviewed)
Publisher: Snowhydra llc
Developer: Snowhydra llc
Age Rating: PEGI 3
Release Date: 19/10/2018 (UK eShop)
Review copy provided by publisher