Metropolis: Lux Obscura (Switch): COMPLETED!

It’s the age old story: Man released from prison, man tries to find the reason he was framed, man gets caught up with the mafia, man visits strippers, man fights everyone and everything via the medium of a Match 3 puzzle game. We’ve seen it so many times before.

And that’s exactly what this is. There’s a branching story, with four endings (three of which I’ve seen so far), a lot of violence and somewhat graphic sex. Also, swearing. So much swearing. This is a game on a Nintendo console, lest ye forget.

The art style and animation is great, sort of like Sin City in the way it’s low on colour and high on gritty comicbook bleakness. The story is bobbins, however, and the game is incredibly short so even though you meet many characters your interactions are minimal and after maybe six or seven “fights”, it’s the end.

After each fight you can choose one from a random selection of stat boosts (more health, more damage dealt, better healing, etc.) but since you’ll come to the end of the game before any of them are really necessary what you choose is pretty pointless.

It’s a shame. Similar games, like HuniePop, Puzzle & Dragons and Puzzle Quest are all much, much longer even though their stories need not be. Here, after three hours I’ve seen all bar one ending and the plot could really have done with more meat. Make it three times as long, and Metropolis Lux Obscura could be a 4/5 title, but sadly it’s so lacking content it sorely needs (and feels like it should have done but the devs cut it short) it’s a 2/5 at most. The gameplay is there. The style is there. The game just isn’t.

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Splatoon 2: Octo Expansion (Switch)

A totally new single player story mode for Splatoon 2? Well why not. The single player was, in my opinion, the best bit of the game, and this new expansion doesn’t disappoint.

Taking the form of a Tube-like underground railway, with each station a level, your Octoling character needs to find the Four Things so they can escape back to the surface. Each level is different, testing your skills in varied ways. In one, you might have to navigate platforms with only a limited amount of ink. In another, you might have to push or shoot a giant 8-ball to the exit, avoiding baddies and traps.

Another level plays out almost like Space Invaders, and another has you riding on the top of cars trying to take out foes without them seeing you. Some levels have bosses from the main game, only modified and made significantly harder – that toaster guy? What if he had snipers on his head and ink sprinkers on the sides?

Yet more variations include levels that are timed – shoot all the targets, collect all the items, or splat all the enemies before the clock hits zero. These have very little margin for error too, I found.

It’s incredible that Nintendo have managed to find so many more ideas to put into this mode, having used so many already on both Splatoon games. But then, this is Nintendo, and when Mario Galaxy and 3D World are literally overflowing with ideas, I suppose it’s not that unexpected. It’s worth mentioning how awesome the music is too, with this mode taking on a slightly 80s vibe which also styles some of the graphics.

Octo Expansion is harder than the original Splatoon 2 single player too, although finishing every level isn’t necessary like it is there. I’ve done about two thirds of them, and will probably go back to do the rest at some point. I know some people think I’m nuts for enjoying single player Splatoon more than online, but I implore you to spend some time on both Octo Expansion and the normal single player mode (if you haven’t already) because some of Nintendo’s best game ideas are here and it’d be a massive shame if people missed them.

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Rime (PS4): COMPLETED!

It’s hard not to compare Rime to Journey. The art style is similar, your character is basically – bar vague noises – mute, and you wear a red scarf. Unlike Journey, however, there’s a lot more game to Rime, with puzzles and platforming much beyond Journey. In fact, I felt it closer in terms of gameplay to something like Papo & Yo or possibly even Rain.

Rime is also not similar to Rive, a shooter which it doesn’t even slightly resemble but for a year or more I’ve been mixing the two up.

Anyway. There’s not a lot to say in case of plot spoilers, but your boy has woken up on the beach of an island, and has get to a giant keyhole shaped thing at the top of a large white tower. You progress through four main areas filled with beautiful scenery and puzzles, of which there are three main sorts: “how do I get this ball thing from here to there”, “how do I manipulate these shadows to do this thing”, and “how do I make these things line up so when I look through that thing they look like the shape over there”. You can shout to activate certain things like switches to help, and sometimes blocks need to be shunted round in order for stuff to work.

None of the puzzles are especially taxing. I did get stuck on one for ages because I hadn’t noticed there was a handhold to climb up and take me somewhere else! Looking around a lot is key to some of the puzzles and finding routes to places.

Hidden around the world are a number of optional things to find. Pots to be shouted at so they break, keyholes to look through, wooden toys to discovery. Naturally, you don’t even find out these exist until you stumble across one by accident so there’s no way I’d get them all in my first playthrough. Unfortunately, I don’t think I’ll be finding them at all because that’s not incentive enough to play through it again. As much as I enjoyed it – jerky framerate and the odd bug aside – I don’t think it’s the sort of game that needs repeating. Certainly not for a while.

If you’re a fan of spoilers, here’s my playthrough in video form:

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Bloodstained: Curse of the Moon (Switch): COMPLETED!

Bought, played, completed. In under two hours. But this definitely not Castlevania is supposed to be short, and there’s supposedly more to be had from replays, so I’m not going to complain.

Not that there’s much to complain about anyway – it’s a decent platformer with some great bosses and a character swapping mechanic which (as each one has different skills) allows different ways of tackling rooms and reaching hidden areas and power-ups.

But it’s hard not to see this as a Castlevania game. As well as having the same graphical style as the original NES titles, one of the characters is basically a Belmont, as she wields a whip in just the same way. Another is clearly Alucard. The main character you start off as has a sword like Soma, but looks like Simon Belmont, and there’s a monk who admittedly isn’t much like anyone from that series. Then there’s the levels which try to distance themselves from Castlevania levels but there’s still the castle and although the baddies are different most behave just like Castlevania baddies.

The bosses, however, are very much new. And also very much easier than anything in a Castlevania game, although that’s not negative point – Castlevania bosses can be past the fun side of difficult.

If I’ve heard correctly, Curse of the Moon is a prequel to the full Bloodstained game which is still due to come out. If that is anything like this, then I’m all over it. Hopefully on the Switch!

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SteamWorld Dig 2 (3DS): COMPLETED!

A while back I was lucky enough to win a copy of this from Nintendolife. I already had (and had completed) it on the Switch, but it’s a great game so playing it through a game was certainly no chore.

Unsurprisingly, it’s the same game. But also unsurprisingly, it was awesome again.

I don’t know if I’ll mop up all the collectibles like I did with the Switch version, but you never know!

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Detective Pikachu (3DS): COMPLETED!

Just a brief post about this because I said a lot more on the ugvm Podcast, but since recording that I’ve completed it.

The main thing to mention is that in the intro to the game, I thought I’d figured out what had happened to Tim’s dad. However, you never actually find out as the game ends with a sequel setup. It’s slightly disappointing, but only because I was expecting closure.

The rest of the game was enjoyable, in a narrative discovery sort of way. There were puzzles and stuff but unless you fail to see things you can never actually go wrong.

Definitely hoping for a sequel soon!

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Fairune Blast (Switch): COMPLETED!

Well this was a bit different. As a reward for completing the three other Fairune games in the collection, this little shoot em up is unlocked.

Taking its cue from the bosses at the end of the first two games, this is a full-on Pop’n TwinBee style vertical shooter, featuring enemies from the main series in formations, and miniature versions of the bosses as, er, bosses.

It’s fun, but very short and easy. I mean, sure, it is only a bonus game but when I started playing I was hoping for more levels and stuff.

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Fairune Origin (Switch): COMPLETED!

I’m guessing here, but I think Fairune Origin is the original idea for a game that eventually became Fairune. It’s a very short, similar game with just 12 screens and a few puzzles which are vaguely recognisable as those in the “proper” Fairune.

Your girl is taller and thinner, the baddies don’t seem to require you to level up to beat them, and it’s all over pretty quickly. It definitely feels like a working prototype, and, I suppose, if you see how much improved Fairune 2 is over Fairune 1 then work backwards from 1 to this with the same leap it makes sense.

Not worth paying for, but a nice little bonus.

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Fairune 2 (Switch): COMPLETED!

Perhaps the easiest way of describing Fairune 2 is “Fairune only more”. More enemies, more puzzles, more areas, bigger maps, more items, more on-screen, more lore, more everything. It’s a lot longer too, as it took me six and a half hours to complete – compare that to two and a half for the first game.

That all said, it’s pretty much the same idea. Bump into enemies to kill them, find items to open up areas of the map, look out for hidden paths and secrets, and Save Keys to Open Doors. There’s just, as I said, more of it.

I enjoyed it more too. Certainly, I spent even longer wandering the map(s) trying to reach areas I’d not been, but once you’ve levelled up enough there’s very little to kill you while you do this. In each of the three main worlds there’s a ring you can obtain which lets you walk on sand, water or ice, and as a result these create shortcuts and new routes. You even have to return to earlier areas with your new abilities. Metroidvania? Er, sort of. Maybe.

There are some really clever hidden-in-plain-sight puzzles (clue: keep an eye on the map!), and some really nasty hidden-a-bit-too-well areas. You absolutely have to keep your eyes open constantly – pillar or light layouts aren’t necessarily just incidental, they might be the solution to a puzzle. Examine every wall for unusual shadows or markings – it could be a secret path. Floor a slightly different colour or a tree trunk a different shade of grey? Might be a secret!

Great as these “secrets” are, unfortunately they’re not optional. You must find them all in order to progress, and it’s here the game falls down a little – especially in the final world where they’re even less obvious.

Still, Fairune 2 is a lovely little game and an absolute bargain in this collection on the Switch.

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Fairune (Switch): COMPLETED!

A few years ago, I picked this up cheaply on the 3DS and quite enjoyed it. This week, Fairune Collection, which included Fairune, it’s sequel, and two other Fairune related games, came out on the Switch. Since I’d passed up on Fairune 2 elsewhere (mainly through Too Many Games) I jumped at the chance. And decided to played the first game again.

It looks a little silly on the Switch screen, with a huge amount of the area showing the map and inventory, but it plays exactly as it did before. Sufficient time had passed since last time I played it that I’d forgotten everything bar the premise (and that I needed to remember a screen had disappearing floor tiles), which probably explains why I still spent a lot time wandering almost aimlessly.

Still, I enjoyed it (again). Time to move onto the next game!

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