There aren’t a lot of exclusive games on Nintendo Switch right now. But games are trickling out. I played three recent ones that are worth your attention — and worth checking out on other platforms, too.
We livestreamed all three on Facebook earlier this week. You can watch an archive of that above. Or, for fans of words and GIFs, here’s a breakdown:
Development studio: Frozenbyte
Type of game: Excruciatingly difficult roguelike
You control a trio of heroes in this strategic and punishing game. As you journey through randomly generated networks of levels, you stop to fight battles against waves of approaching enemies. Your foes approach from the right in any of three lanes. You have a hero in each lane who can fight back. Each hero can use melee attacks or spells and can switch lanes if another’s attack has left a spot open. The goal is to attack with combos, since one hero’s moves create openings for another.
The big trick to the gameplay is that most enemies can only be hurt if they have been stunned, and they can be stunned most effectively if your hero has attacked them with the same number of attacks as the enemy has green stamina blocks. If you are already getting confused, the GIF above is showing how this works. This is complicated, but whether you care for the complicated system I’m about to explain will determine whether this is the kind of game you want to struggle through.
OK? OK! Let’s say an enemy has two green stamina blocks. You should attack with your mage, who hits twice whenever he attacks. That will stun the enemy. Then you swap your rogue into the lane. She always strikes in triplicate. She’ll do damage and, if she doesn’t kill the enemy, she’ll at least permanently knock one of his stamina blocks away.
That wouldn’t have happened if he hadn’t been attacked exactly twice by the mage. Next time he comes down the lane, though, he can be stunned in just one hit, then hurt by another hero. If he survives that, he’ll lose that one stamina block and come down the lane next time with no stamina protection. He’ll take damage right away. The game’s combat is a juggle of knives and, it’s game-over if any one of your heroes is killed.
The game barely bothers to explain its complicated combat system, and right from the start it mercilessly dishes out grunts and bosses who tolerate almost no errors. Early reviewers slammed the game’s difficulty. The developers supposedly made it easier with a day one page. It’s still brutal, but it’s also logical and to some, any tough system that has solid logic to it is a fair challenge.Want a difficult roguelike with tons of unlockable characters, items and spells? This is your game.
It’s on Switch, but also on PC, PS4, and Xbox One.
Development studio: Sumo Digital
Type of game: 3D snake platformer
You control a snake in a 3D platformer. That’s it. The controls are weird, because controlling a snake is weird. By default: right trigger to move ahead, left stick to turn or just wiggle, which makes you go faster… Use the A button to lift your head, which enables you to climb, though climbing in this game can be really tough.
It’s awkward to control a snake. You’re never just worrying about planting a character’s two feet on a platform and moving on from there. Instead, you’re worrying about slithering enough of your snake body onto a surface so that your tail-end doesn’t pull you back down. A better camera would make this easier, so expect frustration and some yelling at the camera. Both of which are, arguably, part and parcel for any 3D platformer.
Get it for the novelty, but be prepared to fall and die more than you might enjoy.
It’s on Switch, but also on PC, PS4 and Xbox One.
Human Resource Machine
Development Studio: The Tomorrow Corporation
Type of game: Coding (but fun!)
This is a game that teaches you a little bit about programming by having you assemble commands for little office workers to follow. At first, all you need to do is tell them how to move items from an inbox to an outbox. Then you need to reverse the order for every two items. Then you need to have your workers add them up or subtract them, or exclude the entries marked with a zero. The interface is slick and friendly. You’re just dragging and dropping commands, re-ordering them if need be.
This is a game for people who like to code or who like coding-style games like SpaceChem and Shenzen I/O, but because it’s from the folks behind World of Goo and Little Inferno, it’s got a distinct, sweet-but-morbid vibe. You can have fun giving these worker drones your attention, but they’re still doing tedious work for some towering corporation.
Get it to feel smart, or if you prefer tests of logic rather than reflex challenges.
It’s on Switch, but also on PC/Mac, iOS, Android and Wii U.