Monday, 22 March 2021

Nintendo Switch Roundup 5: Cyberpunk

Cyberpunk has always had a unique appeal with games utilising the style attracting cult followings through the 8, 16 and 32-bit generations. It remained a much under represented genre until recently when all manner of games have been setting themselves in the shadowy world of mega corporations. Here are some of the best available on the Switch.

Black Future 88

If you like your roguelike set in a dystopian future inspired by Blade Runner then Black Future 88 may well be the game you’ve always dreamed of. Glowing neon and pounding synths accompany players as they have minutes to make it up a procedurally generated tower and topple the evil Duncan. The action is insanely intense and unrelenting as you blast and slash your way through a crazy assortment of enemies and bosses. There a numerous weapons and buffs that can be unlocked along the way and countless different systems you will have to balance out to have a decent shot at getting to the top in one piece. The only down side is that there is so much going on that when played in handheld mode it can get difficult to see at times. This really is an overlooked gem that everyone should experience.

Dex

If you prefer your Cyberpunk with a big dose of adventuring then Dex could well be the game for you. It blends platform, beat’em up and RPG elements together in a sort of 2D take on Shadowrun. There’s even a top down shooter element for the inevitable hacking mini game. The environments you explore are excellent and there are a ton of side missions and interesting characters to meet. The animation can be a touch stilted but that is easily forgivable. The combat system seems to be the thing that divides people the most and requires players to understand it before they can fully get immersed into the experience. Once everything clicked for us we loved it and couldn’t put it down. Each mission normally has two or three ways to be completed as well and the story is great. It comes highly recommended, even if some patience is required.

 Flashback

One of the most iconic games of the 16-bit era, Flashback has a heavy cyberpunk leaning to its platforming and blasting. The game is available in (barely), remastered format on the Switch and is still well worth getting into. It has a unique look and the few new features help to alleviate some of the frustration caused by the games difficulty and slightly awkward control.

We have a detailed look at Flashback here  - https://www.retro101.co.uk/2019/06/flashback-review-switch.html

Huntdown

This loud, brash and adrenaline fuelled thrill ride through the gang infested streets of a mega city is the best action game you’ve probably not heard of. Mixing pop culture references with the best platform shooter action since contra this game is a fun filled joy of a game. It’s one of the craziest games we’ve ever played and it’s truly magnificent and crazy and probably better than whatever you are currently playing. Buy it, don’t wait for a sale, buy it now.

We have a detailed look at Huntdown here – https://www.retro101.co.uk/2021/03/huntdown-review-switch.html

 Transistor

The indie darling of simple-yet-stunning design and complex-yet-flexible mechanics is as beautiful now as it was when first released a good few years back. The sleek mix of real time and turn based action coupled with the dreamy visuals and hypnotic sound marks it out as a true classic that will stand the test of time for as long as people play video games. A unique take on the genre and one that everyone should try.

We have a detailed look at Transistor here - https://www.retro101.co.uk/2019/12/transistor-review-switch.html

2064 Read Only Memories

Styled after early 8-bit point and click games, 2064 certainly has a charm about it. It may seem initially tough to get into but once the mystery starts moving along there are a host of excellent characters to meet and an interesting story to unfold.

A lot of the traditional approaches of the genre have been removed here with players looking at environments through a window on the screen and moving between highlightable objects by pressing the directions buttons. It’s certainly easier than trying to recreate the experience of an on-screen cursor but does take away some elements of interactivity. Puzzles are also not particular complex and often solved within the same location. For some this lack of trudging back and forth will be welcome and, though simple, the puzzle element does keep the title just the right side of visual novel for us.

The dialogue, though good, can also be long winded and exposition filled at times which may see some people skipping through parts. That said it does help to build the greater world of the game. We also had some problems seeing things on the screen as the 8 bit style and colour blindness are not a natural mix. It’s a game well worth a look though if you are after something a little different.

 VA-11 Hall-A: Cyberpunk Bartender Action

Now here’s a game that shouldn’t really work but somehow does. A visual novel at heart, VA-11 Hall-A has players taking the role of a bartender and mixing drinks as various clientele appear each day and night. You are stuck seeing the same limited display of the bar and drinks shaker for the whole game (Aside from a small section when you go home), and mixing drinks is not particularly challenging but it doesn’t matter. People come in, they ask for a drink, tell their tale and leave and that’s how the game proceeds and it works.

The atmosphere is mellow, the mixing of the drinks is satisfying and the dialogue is sharp and not overly long meaning you are likely to read all of it rather than skipping ahead. Characters are also varied and from all walks of life with the stories they tell being interesting and adding great colour to the world they walk back out into. There’s multiple endings to be found as well depending on what drinks you serve at certain points which will add a level of replay value for those that get it.

It’s just a really nice game to wind down with and there’s something therapeutic about the mixing and listening to peoples stories. We aren’t the biggest fan of visual novels but this is engaging, relaxing and works really well.

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