Hello gentle readers, and welcome to the SwitchArcade Round-Up for October 8th, 2019. In today’s jam-packed article, we’ve got reviews of two new releases: Trine 4 and Call of Cthulhu. In addition, there are summaries of today’s many new releases, including Yooka-Laylee and the Impossible Lair, The Alliance Alive HD Remastered, Asphalt 9 Legends, and more. Finally, a nice batch of sales on some great games round things out. Let’s get right to it, shall we?
Trine 4: The Nightmare Prince ($29.99)
The original Trine is now just a hair over ten years old. It was one of the many successes in the big indie boom of the late aughts, a well-crafted Lost Vikings-style puzzle platformer that put players in control of three unique heroes. Each hero had his or her own abilities, and players had to use them together in order to move forward. While hardly the first game of that sort, its gorgeous visuals and excellent execution made Trine a winner. A couple of years later in 2011, developer Frozenbyte put together a sequel that largely built on the mechanics of the first. Trine 2 didn’t reinvent the wheel, but players and critics were hungry for more of what they had seen in the first, so it went over quite well.
Frozenbyte did some other non-Trine projects here and there, but none of them seemed to connect with audiences quite the same way. So in 2015, the developer decided to revisit the franchise with Trine 3: The Artifacts of Power. With the experience gained over the years, the team opted to try a more ambitious design. While previous Trine games were strictly 2.5D affairs, Trine 3 would take the three heroes into full 3D movement. It could have gone worse, but the end result wasn’t up to the quality of the first two games. On top of that, it was a much shorter game that was more expensive to produce. The muted reaction to Trine 3 put the series in jeopardy, and indeed, I didn’t think we’d be seeing it again anytime soon.
Here we are in 2019, and Trine 4: The Nightmare Prince is a thing. Seemingly having learned a lesson from the situation with the last game, Frozenbyte has brought the gameplay back to its 2.5D roots. There are few new gameplay quirks that are introduced partway through the game, but it’s nothing that wouldn’t naturally follow from the abilities you know and love. It’s safe to say that if you were a Trine fan who was put off by the third game, you’re going to be very happy with Trine 4. It even ditches the story it was apparently telling in the previous game, giving a relatively fresh start for everyone to enjoy. A missing prince needs to be found, and the call is put out to the three heroes we’re so familiar with by now. After an introductory stage for each, the game brings the three of them together for their big adventure.
The game looks fantastic, even playing in the Switch’s handheld mode. It’s colorful, detailed, and fantastical in all the right ways. The puzzles are well-designed and plentiful, there are secrets all over the place for curious players to find, and the locations are certainly varied. The only real problem with the game is its combat, which isn’t so much bad as it is dull. Every so often, you’ll be sealed into a small area and have to battle some enemies before you can move on. Just use the knight and butt-bounce them into oblivion. There are also boss battles, which look impressive but don’t really live up to that first reaction. Fortunately, the boss fights and combat bits are a very small slice of an incredibly big game, so they don’t dampen the fun very much.
I suppose people who found themselves exhausted with the Trine concept won’t be quite as enthusiastic about Trine 4‘s conservative approach, but those who simply want an excellent game to play should be pleased. In going back to this structure after being absent from it for so long, Frozenbyte has a chance to show off what it has learned, and the result is a highly refined game that never seems to run out of interesting set-ups for puzzle-platform fans. If you’ve never played any games in the series before, this is actually a great place to start. There’s not much you’ll find in the first two games that isn’t represented here somewhere in an expanded form. Add in the new stuff and you’ve got an awesome game that should tickle your brain quite nicely.
SwitchArcade Score: 4/5
Call of Cthulhu ($39.99)
I’m a little bit torn about Call of Cthulhu. In a purely mechanical sense, it’s not a very satisfying game. The puzzles are barely there, and at its very best it still feels like an undercooked take on Amnesia: The Dark Descent. There’s a stab at an open world here, but it doesn’t really mean much when there’s very little side content to discover. But for how tepid the gameplay is, the story and atmosphere are surprisingly well-done. Is that enough to recommend the game? I suppose it depends on what you’re looking to get out of it. I think people who are really into Lovecraft and the Cthulhu mythos will have a good time here, at the very least.
The game begins in Boston in 1924. You play as a private investigator named Edward Pierce who is, suffice it to say, having a bit of rough streak of late. He’s given a job to investigate a case involving the wealthy Hawkins family, who all apparently perished in a house fire that was allegedly started by the mother. The only clue he has to go on is a painting done by the supposedly insane mother. He heads off to Darkwater Island, where the family was living. The residents are a strange lot, and not all of them are interested in being friendly with curious outsiders.
Now because the title is Call of Cthulhu and not Call of Paperwork, you can probably guess that there’s a lot more going on in this town than meets the eye and that house fire isn’t just going to be an open and shut case. You’ll need to talk to people and use the evidence you find to peel back the layers of the mystery one by one. There are multiple endings based on how things play out, though I’m not sure I’d really want to replay this game that many times. It does a good job of building a sinister atmosphere and when it goes full-on into the Lovecraftian horror, it does it reasonably well.
Unfortunately, the gameplay itself isn’t that inspiring. The puzzles are pretty weak, there’s very little real exploration involved, and the stealth bits are just kind of unpleasant. I get the impression that the game isn’t trying to put up a whole lot of resistance. It wants you to enjoy its interesting story. It needs you to get more invested in its freaky setting than in trying to solve tricky puzzles. In that sense it feels more like a game that wants to build an experience for the player than one that wants to give tests. And I think if you know that going in, that’s okay.
Call of Cthulhu is a decent slice of creepy horror with a well-written and interesting story. I don’t think it pulls off what it’s going for well enough to entice those who aren’t already invested in Lovecraft’s most popular extra-dimensional creation, but if you’re into that stuff, you’ll have a good enough time here, I think. Just be aware that it’s not a very difficult game nor is it a very long one, so you may want to wait for a sale. Its performance on the Switch is also somewhat up and down, so if you have the option of playing on a more powerful piece of hardware, you probably should. Those not particularly enamored of the tentacle-faced one but interested in a horror game should probably save ten bucks and grab the Amnesia Collection instead.
SwitchArcade Score: 3.5/5
Yooka-Laylee and the Impossible Lair ($29.99)
Yooka-Laylee is back, and this time the form might be a bit more agreeable for people. Personally, I think the original game did a decent job of capturing the spirit of N64 collectathons, for whatever that’s worth. But I believe a Donkey Kong Country-style 2D platformer is just a more widely-appealing concept, especially if it’s done as well as this one is. I’m not as sold on the top-down portions, but you know what? If you’re looking for a good new 2D platformer in the Rare tradition, you aren’t going to be disappointed with Yooka-Laylee and the Impossible Lair.
The Alliance Alive HD Remastered ($49.99)
Just in case you didn’t read my review yesterday, let me catch you up. This is a spiffed-up port of a really great Nintendo 3DS JRPG that a lot of people slept on when it originally released in 2018. It has a story written by the guy who did the first three Suikoden games, and some fun gameplay that adds a few elements from the SaGa games to a more traditional JRPG structure. The world has fallen under the rule of Daemonkind, and a group of plucky rebels are the only hope for humanity. I really enjoyed The Alliance Alive, and I think if you appreciate a good throwback JRPG, you will too.
This is one of those games where if I tell you too much about it, you won’t get the full effect. So instead what I’m going to say is that it’s really good, it has 100 endings, and it’s going to surprise you in a lot of interesting ways. The player response to this game on other platforms has been extremely positive, so it’s not just me out here stumping for it either. If you want to play something quirky today, this is your game.
Call of Cthulhu ($39.99)
Though not as old as Cthulhu itself, I am old enough to remember when games based directly on the Cthulhu mythos were novel. That’s definitely not the case anymore, but if you want a decent horror game for this fine month of October, Call of Cthulhu is an acceptable choice. You play as a private investigator who is hired to figure out the mystery behind a house fire that killed an entire family. It’s believed the mother started the blaze, but she hadn’t shown any signs of such behavior before the incident. What is really going on here? After traveling to the island town where the family lived, you’ll have to search around, investigate clues, and get to the bottom of things. You may not like what you find, though. Honestly, this is a pretty simple game in a lot of ways, but the story is interesting and the setting is intriguing. That may be enough for some.
Trine 4: The Nightmare Prince ($29.99)
The original Trine was an out-of-nowhere hit, and the sequel did a nice job of following up on it. The third game made some big changes to the formula, and I think most would agree it didn’t work out as well as hoped. This fourth installment brings the classic gameplay of the first two games back, puts a nice lick of graphical paint over it, and adds a few little twists here and there that make for some excellent new puzzle designs. The heroic trio is back together and on the case to find a missing prince whose magical powers are running amok. Use their combined abilities to solve puzzles and beat nightmarish bosses. It’s a very familiar experience, to be sure, but I think most Trine fans would agree that’s fine.
Asphalt 9: Legends (Free)
Gameloft’s premiere racing series lands its wheels back on a Nintendo platform for the first time in a while. This is of course a port of the mobile version of the game, and it maintains its economy and monetization. Stamina meters! Premium currencies! Gatcha card packs! So much grinding! Needs to be online to even start up! It’s a fun game for sure, channeling Burnout in a lot of good ways. And it’s free to try, so it’s not like you’re paying to get into this county fair. Gameloft even went in and added a split-screen local multiplayer mode to the game, which is nice. I don’t know. I think I can deal with all of that nonsense except the online requirement. It’s one thing for a mobile device, which is presumably connected to a network most of the time. It’s another thing for a handheld.
Worse Than Death ($9.99)
This is a point-and-click style adventure game with some stealth elements. You play as a woman named Holly who is attending her 10-year high school reunion. Things go a little ca-ca, and you end up having to solve puzzles, hide from unseen monsters, and try to hold yourself together long enough to figure out what is going on. You have to use visual and audio cues to find where the monsters are, and there’s no doubt that the game has a fair bit of tension to it. It’s only a few hours long, but the story is interesting enough that the length feels about right. That said, it’s less than half the price on the App Store, so if you’re interested and have a mobile device I’d recommend grabbing it there.
Dodge Hard ($20.00)
This roguelite shoot-em-up makes its way over from mobile platforms, and it was okay at its original price of… free, but I’m not sure it’s twenty bucks good. In fact I’m quite sure it’s not, given what twenty bucks can buy you on the Switch eShop. Like, you know when a top-down shooter is touting auto-aim as one of its main features, it’s perhaps not reading the market right. This version does have support for local multiplayer, but again – twenty dollars. If you can’t find a better top-down shooter at that price or lower on the eShop, you’re not looking very hard.
A Winter’s Daydream ($5.99)
This is a straightforward visual novel with no choices or alternate endings to discover. So you’re really just here for the story, and it’s a decent one. We follow the story of a young man named Yuu who returns home to the countryside for the holidays and, after a fight with his sister, ends up staying with his grandmother way out in the sticks. All is normal enough until the next day, when his grandmother is suddenly a young woman again. Don’t worry, it doesn’t go anywhere weird with this. Anyway, it’s a nice enough slice of life and I’d lean towards recommending it if it weren’t for its silly save system. The game auto-saves on its own and doesn’t allow you to manually save. You never know exactly when it’s saving, so you can’t know how much progress you’re losing whenever you stop playing. Not great for this kind of thing.
BurgerTime Party! ($19.99)
BurgerTime is back! Hmm, I don’t know about this one. I like BurgerTime a lot, and I have a mild but not strong affection for Super BurgerTime. But I feel like trying to expand on early games like BurgerTime generally doesn’t go well because bolting things onto these “simple idea” games doesn’t really add anything to the core appeal. In this case, that appeal is walking across burger parts to assemble burgers at the bottom of the screen, all while avoiding the walking food that is trying to take you out. If you’re more willing to accept a new BurgerTime than I, you’ll find this entry packs in single-player and local multiplayer modes, some really nice new graphics, and more than 100 stages of burger-smashing action.
Aldred – Knight of Honor ($1.99)
To tell the truth, this looks very much like a run-of-the-mill action platformer. Slash, double-jump, and magic your way through stages filled with enemies, traps, and secrets. Every so often you fight a boss, and sometimes that boss is a giant lady. It’s the kind of game that would be really hard to recommend if it wasn’t selling for a couple of bucks. But because it is, I’d say anyone looking for an action game on the cheap will probably get their eight quarters’ worth here.
Pet Shop Snacks ($4.99)
Okay, this one actually came out late last week and I just missed it. But I like to make sure that no game gets left behind in the SwitchArcade, for good or for ill. Just from looking at the screenshot, I’d imagine most mobile gamers know exactly what you get in Pet Shop Snacks. Heck, a lot of Switch gamers should be keen to it by now as this is, I believe, the third game like this Cool Small Games has released on the platform. The theme has been changed to animals coming to your food cart for animal-themed dishes, but that’s really the only thing that separates this from any other food cart game.
Uh, so there’s already a game called Minefield on the Switch, but I guess coming up with names that convey that your game is a Minesweeper clone without infringing on the actual name itself is hard? Anyway, this is a Minesweeper clone. It’s only a buck, and it includes a choice of background themes. One of those is a 9/11 Memorial theme, which feels a little tacky to me and also a bit… I don’t know, anachronistic in some ways. But it wouldn’t shock me in the least if this game was a re-purposed release from 17 or 18 years ago, so that could explain it. Well, it is what it is.
Some interesting sales today, to be sure. Velocity 2X is a terrific game, especially at that price. Fans of simulation games will enjoy Motorsport Manager quite a bit, and games like The Swindle and Serial Cleaner have lots of fans who would vouch for them at these prices. Also, if you don’t have Snake Pass already and enjoy a deep challenge, it’s only seven bucks. The huge outbox has a lot of good games in it, but they’re all fairly regular faces in these sales lists, so spend accordingly.
New Games on Sale
Power Rangers: Battle for the Grid ($12.99 from $19.99 until 10/15)
Plague Inc: Evolved ($13.49 from $14.99 until 10/21)
For The King ($14.99 from $24.99 until 10/22)
Motorsport Manager ($10.04 from $14.99 until 10/22)
When Ski Lifts Go Wrong ($7.49 from $14.99 until 10/22)
Beholder: Complete ($5.99 from $14.99 until 10/22)
The Swindle ($5.24 from $14.99 until 10/22)
Velocity 2X ($6.99 from $19.99 until 10/22)
Manual Samuel ($2.99 from $9.99 until 10/22)
Bomber Crew ($5.24 from $14.99 until 10/22)
Mecha Storm ($9.99 from $19.99 until 10/20)
Rogue Aces ($1.99 from $12.99 until 10/22)
Paper Wars: Cannon Fodder ($0.99 from $9.99 until 10/14)
Red Game Without a Great Name ($0.29 from $2.99 until 10/14)
Green Game: TimeSwapper ($0.29 from $2.99 until 10/14)
Serial Cleaner ($5.99 from $14.99 until 10/22)
The Flame In The Flood: Complete ($5.24 from $14.99 until 10/22)
Snake Pass ($6.99 from $19.99 until 10/22)
Ultra Space Battle Brawl ($1.49 from $14.99 until 10/14)
Mana Spark ($1.99 from $9.99 until 10/29)
Tumblestone ($4.19 from $14.99 until 10/29)
The Bridge ($2.79 from $9.99 until 10/29)
Sales Ending Tomorrow, Wednesday, October 9th
1979 Revolution: Black Friday ($3.59 from $11.99 until 10/9)
American Ninja Warrior: Challenge ($14.99 from $29.99 until 10/9)
ATV Drift & Tricks ($13.99 from $19.99 until 10/9)
Big Buck Hunter Arcade ($4.99 from $19.99 until 10/9)
Black Paradox ($7.49 from $14.99 until 10/9)
Black Sea Odyssey ($3.24 from $12.99 until 10/9)
Bleed ($3.59 from $11.99 until 10/9)
Bleed 2 ($4.49 from $14.99 until 10/9)
Cake Laboratory ($1.99 from $2.99 until 10/9)
Cartoon Network: Battle Crashers ($4.99 from $19.99 until 10/9)
Digerati Indie Bundle ($2.99 from $14.99 until 10/9)
Dokuro ($4.49 from $8.99 until 10/9)
Don’t Die, Mr Robot! ($1.34 from $8.99 until 10/9)
Doughlings: Invasion ($7.49 from $9.99 until 10/9)
Fall of Light: Darkest ($3.74 from $14.99 until 10/9)
Flashback ($5.99 from $19.99 until 10/9)
Frost ($3.89 from $12.99 until 10/9)
Glass Masquerade ($5.99 from $11.99 until 10/9)
Golem Gates ($12.49 from $24.99 until 10/9)
Goonya Fighter ($4.99 from $24.99 until 10/9)
Goosebumps The Game ($4.99 from $19.99 until 10/9)
Hacky Zack ($1.99 from $9.99 until 10/9)
INK ($2.69 from $8.99 until 10/9)
InnerSpace ($4.99 from $19.99 until 10/9)
Letter Quest Remastered ($2.99 from $11.99 until 10/9)
Mistover ($26.99 from $29.99 until 10/9)
Monster Slayers ($7.49 from $14.99 until 10/9)
Monument Builders Rushmore ($3.49 from $6.99 until 10/9)
Nefarious ($4.49 from $14.99 until 10/9)
Next Up Hero ($4.99 from $19.99 until 10/9)
Nickelodeon Kart Racers ($14.99 from $29.99 until 10/9)
Odallus: The Dark Call ($5.99 from $11.99 until 10/9)
Omega Strike ($4.49 from $14.99 until 10/9)
Oniken: Unstoppable ($4.99 from $9.99 until 10/9)
Paranautical Activity ($1.59 from $7.99 until 10/9)
Pipe Push Paradise ($4.39 from $10.99 until 10/9)
Rapala Fishing Pro Series ($4.99 from $19.99 until 10/9)
Reverse Crawl ($6.49 from $12.99 until 10/9)
Shikhondo – Soul Eater ($4.75 from $13.99 until 10/9)
Skelly Selest ($4.99 from $9.99 until 10/9)
Slain: Back From Hell ($5.99 from $19.99 until 10/9)
Slayaway Camp: Butcher’s Cut ($4.49 from $14.99 until 10/9)
Snake vs Snake ($2.79 fom $3.99 until 10/9)
Spectrum ($2.99 from $11.99 until 10/9)
Stellatum ($12.74 from $14.99 until 10/9)
Super Blood Hockey ($8.99 from $14.99 until 10/9)
Syberia ($8.99 from $29.99 until 10/9)
Syberia 1 & 2 ($13.99 from $19.99 until 10/9)
Syberia 2 ($8.99 from $29.99 until 10/9)
Syberia 3 ($14.99 from $49.99 until 10/9)
Talk it Out: Handheld Game ($2.99 from $4.99 until 10/9)
The Aquatic Adventure of the Last Human ($3.89 from $12.99 until 10/9)
The Coma: Recut ($5.99 from $19.99 until 10/9)
Three Fourths Home: Extended ($1.79 from $7.99 until 10/9)
Toki ($11.99 from $29.99 until 10/9)
Uncanny Valley ($3.39 from $9.99 until 10/9)
Unexplored ($4.50 from $15.00 until 10/9)
Verlet Swing ($7.49 from $14.99 until 10/9)
Vertical Drop Heroes HD ($2.49 from $9.99 until 10/9)
Yesterday Origins ($11.99 from $29.99 until 10/9)
That’s all that’s good for today, friends. Phew, what a huge Round-Up. Make sure you swing back around tomorrow, though. I’ve got a couple more reviews on tap, there are a pair of new releases to check out, and of course any interesting news or sales that come along will be included as well. I hope you all have a great day, and as always, thanks for reading!