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Buying Switch Games For £10-£15 – A Retrospective Review Special

The Switch has no shortage of games. In fact, the Switch has a lot of games…

Yes, the second slice of this Retrospective Review Special is here and today we’re looking at a number of Switch games within the £10-£15 price range.

The plan? Get straight to the point; are these games worth your time and do they represent value for money?

Glass Masquerade / Price: £10.79

What do you get?
It’s an interactive jigsaw puzzle. A very classy one at that.

Taking cues from Art Deco and 20th century stained-glass artistry, Glass Masquerade presents players with an empty pane into which you must slot the shattered pieces of a stained-glass puzzle into position. The individual shards come in complicated shapes, meaning levels are rarely as straightforward as they first appear.

Each puzzle is assigned a country, making a journey of the stage selection screen. What’s interesting in this presentation is the clockwork mechanisms that form the UI, contain the glass shards, and surround the centre puzzle pane. This is all said to represent elements of the country’s respective cultures, combining to create ‘The International Times Exhibition’. The centre pane takes the form of a clock and once completed, you are left with a piece of art which reflects part of the history of the stage’s country. It’s thematically clever and consistent and looks great on the both the TV and Switch’s screen.

As you can imagine, the premise being this straightforward lends itself it a very simplistic control method where simply selecting pieces and moving them across the screen with the analogue stick. While touch controls certainly work, you have to be fairly accurate with placement, which can be difficult when with your big ol’ fingers blocking the view on the Switch’s modestly sized screen.

Providing the slow melodies, quiet chimes, waves and strings combined with the game’s pacing don’t gently sway you to sleep, you can try beating your best time on each level, giving an incentivised level of replayability.

Was it fun?
Sure was. As I played this one with my wife, taking turns, I quickly realised it’s one of those games where ‘armchair gaming’ lets you believe you’re going to be better than you are so, while not particularly difficult, there is a challenge in there. However, the no-pressure, laid back atmosphere means anyone can pick this one up, taking it at their own pace.

The visual style is top notch and the exceptional strained-glass work is a great reward for completing a puzzle. The British get Sherlock Holmes, the Portuguese get a ship, the Germans; a portrait of Angela Merkel drafting some careful economical plans. Well, close enough.

Will you play it again?
Definitely. The developers pitch Glass Masquerade as a relaxing game and, in this, it over-achieves, acting as a perfect wind-down mechanism. Here’s hoping the recently released PC sequel will also see a port in the future.

Score: 9/10

Publisher: Digerati
Developer: Onyx Lute
Age Rating: PEGI 3

The Aquatic Adventure of the Last Human / Price: £11.69

What do you get?
An underwater Metroid! And there’s nothing ‘vania about this one.

As the titular last human, you return to Earth and explore the waters in a future where melted polar ice caps finally took the land. The narrative style of a human-less future Earth, while not incredibly original, captures the crux of the topical climate change conversation in a stark way.

Originally brought to PC though a successful Kickstarter on a very tight budget, developer Stage Clear Studios has really pulled off an impressive feat in world-building.

The atmospherically controlling sound design deserves massive praise for capturing the awe of a deep-sea environment. The underwater echo and gentle hum of your sub’s propellers, against the muted boom of your torpedoes is your only companion when the tension building in the ambience of the stunning soundtrack, further punctuated by masterful dynamic timing. This, entwined with the minimalist pixel artwork’s dense, clever details, really drive home the sense of an aged, forgotten civilisation. Performance holds strong throughout and slots neatly into the more polished of the Switch’s impressive library of small, affordable, indie games.

Combat initially takes the form of firing torpedoes by holding the right trigger and aiming anywhere below your craft with the right analogue stick. Positioning is managed with the left stick and movement flows at a steady pace. There’s no inventory management involved but upgrading the ship’s weaponry and tools to unlock previously inaccessible areas, complete with a block-grid Metroid style in-menu map, drives the apt comparison to Nintendo’s classic.

Aquatic Adventure reveals its MO quickly in the form of colossal bosses. There’s the old ‘git gud’ vibe to these battles, with each boss being utterly gruelling. That said, I’m often talking overwhelming in that they repeatedly leave only a small margin for error. These massive bosses have learnable patterns and are generally easy to map after a few attempts, however, the battles drag on longer than they can hold your interest, meaning a small lapse brings immediate death. The trade-off is the satisfaction of beating tough enemies, knowing it was based on your own skill.

It feels needlessly jarring to have the exploration be so tame, only to reach the colossal bosses with little room to breathe in terms of approach. I understand the Shadow of the Colossus references and it’s a fair comparison in some regards, but while managing, within its own technic boundaries, to push that sense of wonder and fear, it’s not quite as cohesive in the gameplay change.

Was it fun?
It was mostly a strong experience, if a little slow for my personal tastes. The weaponry never truly strays from the leisurely harpoon style bar one main weapon which has woeful accuracy and it’s fun to use.

Additionally, the jarring difficultly swing, while by design, will most certainly be off-putting for a large volume of gamers. I’ve had my time with The Aquatic Adventure of the Last Human and, while there’s a meaty game, especially for the price, I found the drawn-out nature of the battles to become tiresome and frustrating over the course of a full playthrough.

Will you play it again?
It’s a one-and-done from my perspective.

Score: 7/10

Publisher: Digerati
Developer: YCJY
Age Rating: PEGI 12

Fight of Gods / Price: £11.29

What do you get?
A one on one fighting game where gods are funnelled into an alternative world to battle. People punch and do moves.

The pitch? Jesus vs Buddha. Santa vs Zeus. Odin vs Anubis. And so on. Sounds great, right? Well not in practice.

Each character looks like a wealth of stock assets were bought and flung haphazardly to loosely resemble a deity. The animations are best compared to corporate slideshows – they’re dull and don’t make sense. The missing anti-aliasing would do nothing to hide the fact there every background texture looks ripped from a Saturn game. The look is, frankly, awful, the performance, like that of a battery-saving mobile game.

So, graphics aren’t everything, most accept this, but Fight of Gods does absolutely nothing to redeem itself where gameplay is concerned. Movements not only look unnatural, but they feel unnatural. Special moves are performed with quarter circles and the like and are simple enough to pull off but there’s absolutely no variety, with minimal flair or creativity, especially in light of the roster. Every action feels like the same, uneventful, limp flap of a move with no weight behind it and no suitable reactions. Combos are not easily put together and, even when you manage one, they lack fineness and feel as though you broke the game, rather than feeling deliberate. The throws are groan-worthy, even when they shouldn’t be (Santa taking a picture with his foe should be something that brings a smile, not an eye-roll).

There are none of the modes one would expect from a fleshed-out release, especially of a game released in 2017 that’s had time to repair. It wouldn’t matter though, because with the core mechanics functionally far-removed from even the genre’s mediocre titles, it wouldn’t be worth exploring them.

It’s rare I am compelled to use my all in an to find redeeming features of a game, I’m of the opinion that, if a game is well-designed, the enjoyment will come after a fair investment in learning how the game works – after that, it’s on the game. But I tried. Fight of Gods does everything it can to remove any of the enjoyable features from the fighting game genre, leaving an empty husk of brawler with no charisma, despite the names attached to the fighters.

I guess the premise was a good shout as the game enjoyed early success on Steam. The consensus appears to be that this was on the basis it offended a lot of people and was banned in a few places. If it wasn’t, God help the industry.

Was it fun?
No. Though, after careful consideration, I found a way to potentially derive fun from this game; buy it as a Christmas present for your mortal enemy. The Gods will already hate you for playing this, so what’s left to lose?

Will you play it again?
Never, ever, ever, ever.

Score: 2/10

Publisher: Digital Crafter Interactive
Developer: Digital Crafter Interactive
Age Rating: PEGI 12

Blacksea Odyssey / Price: £11.29

What do you get?
A load of dudes from different worlds thrown into a competitive free-for-all space bounty hunter tournament. If that doesn’t sound very interesting, it’s because it isn’t. However, what’s missing in narrative devices is more than made up for in spectacular gameplay.

The developershave described Blacksea Odyssey, at its core, asa top-down shooter, rogue-like with light RPG elements. It’s a fair description. We have right stick controlled aiming, loot-hunting, equitable upgrades which have a randomised statistical element and procedurally generated levels.

After running through the brief interactive tutorial, I felt immediately comfortable with the twin-stick shooting nature of the core gameplay. Movement is nippy and feels natural from the off, making it easy to get started in chasing down your mark. Using a free range of movement across a modestly-sized 2D sandbox of sorts allows for treasure hunting and bestiary box-checking.

Diving into the game proper, I was initially choosing from three bounties to hunt, each with a difficulty and relatively-scaled reward. These quickly expand to a great range of beasts within a small number of location-types. Bounties come in the form of a huge space monsters which take cues from aquatic creatures, insects, animals and, uh, veg and stuff.

Combat is presented in a top-down shooter fashion. Firing your harpoon will hook you to an enemy, causing additional damage and, as a bonus, slowing the enemy down as well as giving you the means to perhaps pluck out an eye or rip the tail off a beast. Finding and exploiting an enemy’s weak-points is thoroughly satisfying; yanking the tongue out of a giant poisonous frog or ripping the tentacle off a huge squid is far superior to slowing chipping away at its massive health bar, but you’re going to have to get up in grill some to do so. This risk/reward method of battle is always fast-paced and rarely feels formulaic or repetitive.

Once you’ve taken down your bounty there’s a ten second rush to collect dropped loot; an event simultaneously exciting and frantically nerve-racking.

By either shooting the edges with certain weapons or boosting into of biome-chunks scattered through space, you can create a path to treasure chests or a shortcut to your target. Blacksea Odyssey’s environments are comparable to those from Worms games in presentation and in their destructible nature. There’s nothing dynamic about these explosive interactions but the addition of the mechanic is noteworthy.

Managing your boost meter so it doesn’t overheat, allowing you to escape an otherworldly monstrosity flying towards you, jaws wide open, or giving you the means to find cover from a patch of bullet hell is sweat-inducingly fun.

Unfortunately, the marvellous chaos of a crowded screen of foes is undermined by some sharp framerate dips. Alright, so there are a fair few moving parts here and there but there’s nothing that should be too graphically intensive so it’s a shame the Switch port couldn’t make it over unscathed, especially given the use minimal use of effects. The problem runs deeper, however, as the frame drops are still apparent even during the sparser areas. If anything, at a glance, it’s surprising they had to scale-down to 30FPS.

Was it fun?
It was consistently fun. The feeling of landing a well-timed harpoon or taking out a multi-screen spanning boss is made even more glorious by the fantastic space-combat mechanics.

What a crying shame then, that what gains are made in gameplay are occasionally fumbled and dropped in performance consistency.

Will you play it again?
Yes. And I will play it a lot. The style lends itself to multiple playthroughs.

Score: 7.5/10

Publisher: Digerati
Developer: Team Blacksea Odyssey
Age Rating: PEGI 7

Odallus: The Dark Call / Price: £10.79

What do you get?
Immediately presented in a curved CRT screen format, complete with scanlines. Odallus is aa throwback to 8-bit Castlevania through and through.

Our man, Haggis (yes, Haggis) hunts alone to provide for his son, he’s the type to talk to campfires during lovely 8-bit style cut scenes. Antagonist, Gael has burnt Haggis’ local village to the ground and now Haggis’ son is nowhere to be found. Humans are transforming into monsters. Where will this madness end? Well at the tip of Haggis’ blade, of course!

2D platforming and single-button-single-hit combat come into an 8-bit retro aesthetic. Where CRT looks are often resigned to options these days, Odallus’ visual identity was made around this concept and, as a result, feels more authentic. What’s not authentic to the era is the tight controls, feeling more reminisent of the the later years.

Platforming is responsive and satisfying, with combat being pretty much exactly what you expect from a ‘vania clone; attack with your standard weapon standing, jumping or ducking while using a range of secondary weapons. Where Odallus excels, aside from the excellent art direction, is in level design. The non-linear structure offers secrets, light puzzles and upgrades to open new paths with just the right amount of platforming. Moving platforms are used to good effect, aiding a progressive upturn in difficulty in a measured way. Enemy spritework captures the gritty sword and sorcery of its inspiration and Haggis has a bunch of funky costumes (gargoyle with wings!) unlocked from the start.

A pumping 8-bit soundtrack expectedly lands, fitting the theme and offering a decent catchy-hook-to-atmospheric ratio.

It’s not all rosy, though. Being unable to map the controls is irritating as, with attack being mapped to ‘Y’, secondary attack mapped to ‘X’ and jump being mapped to ‘A’, I was forever longing to use ‘B’ to jump. An odd omission that will hopefully be patched into the options menu.

And again, taking the 8-bit theme a little too literally, is the old lives system. I get its purposefully confined to the retro vibe but having limited lives is an unnecessary and probably inadvertent act of gatekeeping – a better suite of options would have benefitted newcomers.

Was it fun?
Indeed. The gripes are minor, and the literal lay of the land provides enough assistance to a supplement player skill progression throughout this decent-sized game; a good 8-10 hours.

It’s not going to be for everyone as this takes only a few modern cues, to its detriment and core gameplay is as simple as it comes.

Will you play it again?
Yes, I intend to 100% this one.

Score: 7/10

Publisher: Digerati
Developer: JoyMasher
Age Rating: PEGI 12

Pikuniku / Price: £11.69

What do you get?
Freakyforms given meaningful structure. Pikuniku (picnic) is an astonishing blend of puzzle-platforming with a surprisingly interesting state-control narrative about mining the land’s resources.

Pikuniku brings the smiles through its bright, primary colour charm, carefully crafted environments littered with unusual characters all made of simple shapes and wholesome designs. This innocence is supported by a host of chirpy tunes and silly events.

Controlling Piku involves jumping, kicking and rolling around, while collecting items to solve problems, finding a talking rock – whose table you accidentally smashed – in a game of hide and seek, donning shades to look awesome. Piku’s a little clumsy and tends to break stuff but has a dry wit in responses that you can chose that never fails to land. There are some skills and outfits to acquire but, given the game’s extremely short length, I feel a duty to leave out any spoilers.

The game’s single player mode has Piku up against the man, hording natural resources all in the name of personal wealth. Little touches like CCTV camera poking out of bushes do a litte to contrast the happy atmosphere. There’s nothing deep and it always remains child-friendly but there’s enough to keep curious minds entertained.

Better yet, there are two player local co-op levels, all of which are enjoyably cooperative. That might sound strange to say but honestly, this isn’t one of those ‘troll your partner’ games or something that turns into a messy competition like Overcooked or Snipperclips (though those game are brilliant in their own way), it aids a cohesive and pleasant synergy that, while never likely to blow anyone away, leaves its own absurdist mark.

Was it fun?
You know the answer to this. More co-op levels would have been wonderful but it’s hardly a complaint.

Will you play it again?
Plenty more times. I intend to go through the co-op levels with everyone in the family

Score: 9/10

Publisher: Devolver Digital
Developer: Sectordub
Age Rating: PEGI 3

Omega Strike / Price: £13.49

What do you get?
The music in the barracks sounds like a military piece from Final Fantasy VII. Sorry, I got distracted.

Omega Strike is (say it with me) a Metroidvania. “Another one?!”, they cried, but little did they know that this one plays more like a subdued Metal Slug-meets-16 bit platformer than Metroid or Castlevania.

Dr Omega has created an army of super soldiers through the usual means of experimentation. The soldiers go predictably mad so your three-man team must go strike down the doc before he gets to big for his boots.

Each of the three dudes in your cell have a unique ability and different weapon, Dex can double jump and rocks a shotgun, Bear can push objects and carries some sort of Nerf grenade launcher and default-guy-with-quiff carries a rifle and does nothing… until he gets a cool little roll. Characters can be switched on-the-fly instantly. Early in the game you’re stripped of your buddies and left with Cpt. Quiff but it isn’t long before you see the ledge that’s too high or the box that needs pushing out of the way to later return to.

The bold and chunky 16-bit style spritework with the smooth animation of exploding mutants, complimented by a catchy, cartridge-synth mixture of chip-tunes that occasionally feel like they could have slotted into the Shinobi soundtrack, keeps the high energy run ‘n’ gun movement fluid, upbeat and above all, fun.

Aside from Dr Omega’s army of volatile human experiments, there’s a mixture of smaller, genetically and robotically enhanced critters to get in your way. Some of the enemies wouldn’t look out of place in Mega Man X and certainly the spike projectiles and boss patterns are reminiscent of earlier Mega Man games, though less precise and gruelling then the pixel-perfect platforming thrown at Capcom’s Blue Bomber.

What’s promoted as ‘a vast interconnected world’ by devs, Woblyware never feels particularly sprawling and it’s easy to forget you’re playing a semi-open Metroidvania, rather than something more linear. The in-menu map serves as good reminder that you are, however. Whether you’re jumping over mines or thorny vines, busting up Omega’s troops or jumping into a cool capsule that looks like one of Michael Jacks… sorry, Justin Beiber’s hyperbaric oxygen chamber to save your game, Omega Strike is filled with quirky action.

My one complaint is that the action is very similar throughout so, if the thought of this type of 4-direction shooting with little variation in munitions and core gameplay doesn’t appeal, unless you’re really looking for a pick-up-and-play Metroidvania without much to manage or think about in any detail then this might not be for you. There are no head-scratching puzzles and there’s no survival tension, Omega Strike is what it is and remains superglued to its frame.

Was it fun?
Yes, and it’s not the first time I’ve had a decent time with a Woblyware game. The smooth core shooting and platforming hold up for the long haul and supplement the fast-paced exploration.

Will you play it again?
I will most certainly have another run through the entire game to find all the hidden treasures.

Score: 8.5/10

Publisher: Digerati
Developer: Woblyware

Age Rating: PEGI 7

Zombie Night Terror / Price: £13.49

What do you get?
10 minutes trying to work out why the Pro Controller won’t connect before realising it’s not supported.

Was it fun?
No, it wouldn’t work.

Will you play it again?
I didn’t play it the first time.

Let’s try that again… What do you get?
Alright, we’re on. You’re in control of a virus spreading nut job voyeur. Your aim is simple: infect as many people as possible with a zombie spawning T-Virus type effort and kill, kill, kill. The 2D pixel presentation makes use of splatters of red and green which contrast with the otherwise grimdark monochromatic aesthetic. Zombie Night Terror is screen-scrolling strategy resource management with a dark twist.

So, it turns out, when playing in TV mode, you must use a JoyCon as a pointer. Anyone who’s had the misfortune of having to use this control scheme will know what to expect. The only alternative control option is touch controls in handheld mode but honestly, these don’t do much to remedy the clumsy feeling of not having an accurate means of UI selection.

Your pointer gives you access to a tool bar with various means of spreading the virus or mutating. When selecting arrows or mutations to change the direction of your undead army, it quickly becomes clear you’re dealing with Zombie Lemmings. Each section is a puzzle in guiding your minions to reach a goal (usually a human) and watch them gorge on succulent pixel flesh. Zombies move predictably in one direction, plunging to their deaths when faced with a gap in the floor for example, and you’ll need to guide them away from hazards in increasingly difficult puzzles, eventually utilising an overwhelming range of abilities which are unlocked once you progress.

Puzzles are fairly well designed, requiring plenty of interactions within varied environments like night clubs or underground labs but it’s pretty one track and slow-paced. Brain-teasers fall aside in favour of good timing, with levels often requiring little thought. Frustration brews one time too many when hitting the wrong zombie with your chunky fingers.

It’s a somewhat unique and interesting concept, hampered by the poor pointer controls and awkward touch controls, both of which are way too clunky.

Was it fun?
While the concept intrigued me, it wore thin quickly. Zombie Night Terror is clearly tuned to mouse controls and ends up becoming a slog for either control method.

Unless you’re desperate for a Lemmings clone with some decent dark humour on the Switch, it’s hard to recommend.

Will you play it again?
I can see myself trying out the PC release for sure. For once though, this game is not a good match for the Switch.

Score: 5/10

Publisher: Plug In Digital
Developer: NoClip
Age Rating: PEGI 18

Well, I hope you enjoyed this merry tour of the some of the Switch’s budget range. Keep it at Reggie Reviews for more to the point reviews!

Review copies provided by respective publishers

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