SwitchArcade Round-Up: ‘Plague Inc: Evolved’ and ‘The Forbidden Arts’ Reviews, ‘Pillars of Eternity: Complete Edition’ and Today’s Other New Releases, the Latest Sales, and More

Hello gentle readers, and welcome to the SwitchArcade Round-Up for August 8th, 2019. In today’s feature, we’ve got summaries of today’s many new releases along with a couple of reviews of titles from a few days ago. I skipped the news today because there really wasn’t a whole lot of note at the time of writing. But we do have plenty of interesting sales to check out on top of the other goodies. Let’s go!

Reviews

Plague Inc: Evolved ($14.99)

Plague Inc has been around for quite a while now in one form or another. It’s a relatively simple-to-play simulation with a lot of depth happening behind the scenes. The goal is to create and cultivate a disease so deadly and contagious that it wipes out all of humanity before a cure can be found. A little morbid, to be sure, but its clinical presentation generally keeps the reality away from the game itself. It’s a great experience on mobile and in many ways is perfectly suited to the platform. This Switch version carries an extra subtitle, but apart from a cleaner presentation and a few other tweaks, this is essentially the same game.

Pick a starting location, keeping in mind that richer countries will be able to mobilize a cure more quickly and that poorer countries may not have the transportation connections to help your disease spread. You’ll periodically receive points by popping bubbles in locations your disease has spread to, and you can use those points to mutate your disease. These include things like resistance to drugs, resistance to cold, greater lethality, and aids in spreading the illness. You can’t afford to choose them all, but you can re-spec to a great extent if you see the need. It’s not just what properties your disease has but when it develops them that matters. The world will take a highly lethal disease far more seriously than it will an uncomfortable one, so you’d best be ready for the big show when you take that step.

Indeed, racing against a cure is the main target in Plague Inc. The other situation you need to worry about is if you fail to infect everyone before all carriers of the disease die out. You only win if you kill them all. Of course, once you figure out a good way to do this, the game can get a little dull. Extra difficulty levels and special scenarios that lock out certain mutations and place other restrictions on you help spice things up. Many of these extra scenarios were sold as DLC in the mobile version. The Switch version includes almost all of them right from the go, which goes a long way in explaining the price difference. That said, even the extra scenarios get a bit tired if you replay them.

That’s really what makes it hard to recommend Plague Inc: Evolved as strongly as I might recommend the mobile version. It’s a fun game the first few times, and watching the numbers move around, the news ticker reports, and the colors on the map change as your disease spreads offers a very primal form of excitement that works even on the hundredth playthrough. Ultimately, however, I found the game to be boring almost as often as it was interesting. There are all kinds of buttons to speed things up but that doesn’t change the core matter of how the game plays and what it asks of the player. It’s an amusing enough way to pass some time, but the more I play it the less I get from it.

Honestly, I’d recommend spending the dollar to give the game a shot on mobile before jumping into this version. If you like what you play, I think this is the cheaper way to buy everything involved with the game. If you find it lacks satisfaction, nothing in this Evolved version is going to change your mind. It’s a quality game and one that commands your attention easily when you first come to it, but it lacks the long-term depth that I look for in a strategy game on a console.

SwitchArcade Score: 3.5/5

The Forbidden Arts ($14.99)

I feel like even if The Forbidden Arts nailed everything it was going for, it wouldn’t be much better than average. And it doesn’t nail everything it’s going for by any means. It’s a very ambitious game for the size of its team, and it has all the hallmarks of that kind of thing. Nothing is as polished as you would like, with clunky controls, questionable collision detection, and uneven difficulty dogging the player regularly. The visuals are impressive enough that you can tell they probably took a great deal of effort, but rough enough that it doesn’t look all that great anyway. At its best, this is a reasonably interesting but somewhat bland side-scrolling action game with plenty of adventure elements.

Your main character is a dagger-wielding youth named Phoenix who, soon after the start of the game, gets access to fire magic. As the game goes on, your character’s abilities will expand, giving you new fire powers and extra abilities that you can use to defeat enemies and solve puzzles. The game consists of several 3D overworld sections that each contain a handful of side-scrolling stages. Wandering around these maps sometimes yields hidden gold, which can be traded for useful upgrades and help you get through the game. You’ll also find gold in the stages themselves, and hunting down every last piece takes careful exploration and proper execution.

Simply working your way through each stage can be a minor challenge thanks to how big they can be, but gathering up all the gold is a real bit of work. Both things are made more difficult by the game’s somewhat problematic controls and unreliable hit detection. Hitting enemies who aren’t directly in front of you can be a task, and you’ll constantly take hits that should never have counted. Frankly, I had little fun whenever combat came into play, and that’s quite often. The exploration fared a little better. Sometimes I would miss a jump or Phoenix would fail to grab a ledge or kick off a wall, but it was a lot more tolerable overall when I was just trying to get at something. Checkpoints are frequent so deaths aren’t as annoying as they could be. I actually enjoyed the level designs in a lot of cases, though I rarely appreciated the enemy placements.

The Switch version also suffers from some technical issues that may or may not be unique to this platform. The loading times are absolutely dreadful, for starters. The game plays smoothly enough most of the time, to its credit, but the animations often look awkward and undercooked. Then there are the bugs. There were so many cases where I got stuck after performing some actions and had no choice but to reset the game. Yes, the checkpoints are frequent so this problem isn’t a game-breaker, but it contributes to the feeling that the game just isn’t ready for prime time.

The Forbidden Arts has its moments, but they’re brief and tend to come between long stretches of frustration. If a game is going to have a lot of action in it, it’s absolutely crucial to nail down two things, more than anything else. The controls have to be reliable and feel good, and the collision detection has to be done properly. There are lots of other more minor things that can help or hinder the experience, but if you can’t get at least those two things down, you’re going to have a troubled game. And, well, that’s The Forbidden Arts. It’s impressive in a few ways but none of those are as fundamental to a good game experience as the things it fumbles.

SwitchArcade Score: 2/5

New Releases

Pillars of Eternity: Complete Edition ($49.99)

SwitchArcade Highlight!

Obsidian’s critically-acclaimed CRPG swaps one ‘C’ for another and heads to yet another console with this Switch port. As might expect, the controls are probably the biggest casualty here. The game was designed to play with a mouse and keyboard, so playing it on a controller is always going to be less than ideal. Disappointingly, the development team has opted to not use the Switch’s touch screen. That could have been a real game-changer for those playing handheld. Otherwise, this is a solid port of the game that runs surprisingly well even in handheld mode. The loading times are pretty long, but I feel like the original PC version didn’t fare that well in that regard either.

Subdivision Infinity DX ($14.99)

SwitchArcade Highlight!

Well, if it isn’t a high-falutin’, fancy-pants version of an iOS game I really enjoyed. Subdivision Infinity was a pretty solid space dogfighter when it came out on mobile, and this enhanced Switch port is just as capable. It looks better, it plays better, and it’s just as packed with awesome action as it was before. I’m going to be doing a review of this one, so I won’t go into too much detail here. Basically, it’s a really nice version of the mobile game, but there isn’t so much new here that you’d want to buy it if you’ve already played that one, I think.

Quench ($19.99)

SwitchArcade Highlight!

You know those sim parts of ActRaiser where you have to use miracles of nature to accomplish certain goals? Quench kind of reminds me of that. You have to help an elephant unite the animals tribes by using the forces of nature to grow grass, start forest fires, create rivers, and so on. The aim is to safely guide the animals under your care on their journey, and sometimes that means dealing with obstacles both inanimate and animate. The game has a nice hook and the visuals are certainly striking, but I’ll have to put some time into it to see if it’s worth a strong recommendation.

Pix the Cat ($9.99)

SwitchArcade Highlight!

A little bit Flicky, a little bit Pac-Man, and a little bit Snake, Pix the Cat is a fun arcade-style game with lots of style and fairly enjoyable core gameplay. You have to guide Pix around the mazes, gathering up eggs which will hatch into little birds. You then have to take the birds to specific drop-off points, making sure not to run into any of them as they trail behind you. You’ll earn combo points by making precise turns, eventually leading to a fever mode where you can really rack up the points. I’ll be doing a review of this one in a bit, so stay tuned. As though you have to tune in to a website. Using the tuner on your computer, no doubt. Mmm, idiomatic expressions.

Doughlings: Invasion! ($9.99)

Just as Doughlings: Arcade served as a cute little homage to Break-Out and Arkanoid, Doughlings: Invasion calls back to classics like Space Invaders and Galaga. There are a few twists here, like having multiple characters and upgrades that change up the familiar gameplay, but for the most part you probably know how this goes. Enemies line up in formations in the sky, and you’ve got to zap them before they zap you. Like in the previous game, many of the upgrades and special powers skirt the lines of copyright very closely, so you can rest assured that your Optic Blast will be fired from behind the lens of a ruby quartz visor.

Wordsweeper by POWGI! ($7.99)

Lightwood Games is back at it again with another fun logic puzzler. Wordsweeper is a bit like a crossword puzzle except instead of having text hints at which words are where, you have to use hints that tell you which letters go in which boxes. It’s pretty simple to pick up, and you get lots of puzzles for the price. You also get the usual terrible dad joke after completing each one, a Lightwood tradition I sincerely hope never ends. As usual, the presentation is extremely bare-bones, but if you’re just looking for a ton of puzzles to spend some time with, you won’t be unhappy with what you get here.

The Pyraplex ($12.00)

Buckle yourselves in, friends. We’ve got two Kairosoft sims to look at today, both of which have been naturally drawn from their pool of mobile releases. The first one we’re checking out is The Pyraplex, where you have to build and manage a successful pyramid complex. Honestly, I’ve always felt this one was stretching things a bit. It’s kind of a re-skin on Mega Mall Story, except it doesn’t make any sense on its own. Pyramids are tombs, not shopping malls for ancient people. Bah. Don’t think about it too hard and you’ll find another solid but predictable Kairosoft sim to lose a couple days with.

Oh! Edo Towns ($12.00)

And here’s the second one. This is one of Kairosoft’s isometric town builders, this time taking on the theme of an Edo-era Japanese city. If I remember right, this and Venture Towns are almost exactly the same game, just with a different theme. So if you liked that one and want more, or are just into the whole idea of building a town from the Edo period, you’ll probably have fun here. If you’re burnt out on Kairosoft’s stuff, this is almost as generic as it gets even by their standards, so you’ll probably want to steer clear.

Sudoku Universe ($6.99)

Yes, it’s another Sudoku game. The popular number logic puzzle has more than a few Switch games dedicated to it, so what makes this one any different? Well, you get a couple of other variations on the basic Sudoku experience here. Sure, you have your usual puzzles, and a pretty healthy pile of them at that. There’s also Sudoku Jigsaw, where the normal game’s standard boxes are traded out for unusual shapes that must be filled in according to Sudoku rules. Finally, there’s Killer Sudoku, where you also need to consider how the numbers add up. This one seems like a good choice for Sudoku fans or curious newcomers alike.

Sales

Some good stuff on sale today. Don’t forget that if you have a Nintendo Switch Online account, you can now download and play Mario Tennis Aces in its entirety for the next several days. The game is discounted for the time being in case you like what you play. Other quality titles in today’s list include Team Sonic Racing, Black Bird, and Dandy Dungeon. That last one just got a nice little update today. In the outbox, the Limited Run Games sale is coming to a close. They’re doing sales pretty regularly these days, so they’ll probably be back around again sooner or later.

New Games on Sale

Mario Tennis Aces ($41.99 from $59.99 until 8/21)
Team Sonic Racing ($27.99 from $39.99 until 8/14)
Green Game: TimeSwapper ($0.29 from $2.99 until 8/13)
Red Game Without a Great Name ($0.29 from $2.99 until 8/13)
Paper Wars: Cannon Fodder Devastated ($0.99 from $9.99 until 8/13)
Epic Clicker Journey ($4.24 from $4.99 until 8/20)
Kid Tripp ($1.99 from $3.99 until 8/29)
Superola and the Lost Burgers ($1.99 from $5.99 until 8/27)
Voxel Shot ($6.40 from $8.00 until 8/29)
Ayakashi Koi Gikyoku ($16.74 from $24.99 until 8/29)
Iris School of Wizardry ($16.74 from $24.99 until 8/29)
Black Bird ($9.99 from $19.99 until 8/22)


Kitty Love – Way to Look for Love ($16.74 from $24.99 until 8/29)
Desktop Soccer ($5.68 from $7.11 until 8/29)
ABZU ($14.99 from $19.99 until 8/23)
Marenian Tavern Story ($14.99 from $19.99 until 8/22)
Escape Doodland ($0.99 from $9.99 until 8/29)
Koloro ($0.99 from $9.99 until 8/29)
Super Hero Fight Club: Reloaded ($0.99 from $9.99 until 8/29)
Bonds of the Skies ($9.09 from $12.99 until 8/22)
Unit 4 ($2.99 from $14.99 until 8/29)
SlabWell ($4.99 from $9.99 until 8/27)
Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons ($11.99 from $14.99 until 8/23)
Dandy Dungeon ($16.99 from $24.99 until 8/22)

Sales Ending Tomorrow, Friday, August 9th

Cosmic Star Heroine ($5.99 from $14.99 until 8/9)
Death Coming ($5.59 from $6.99 until 8/9)
Deployment ($2.49 from $9.99 until 8/9)
Hexologic ($1.19 from $2.99 until 8/9)
Laser Kitty Pow Pow ($1.99 from $2.99 until 8/9)
Mars or Die! ($9.99 from $19.99 until 8/9)
Megaton Rainfall ($11.99 from $15.99 until 8/9)
Night Trap – 25th Anniversary ($5.99 from $14.99 until 8/9)
Otto ($2.49 from $4.99 until 8/9)
Pianista ($19.99 from $24.99 until 8/9)
Revenge of the Bird King ($0.99 from $4.99 until 8/9)
Saturday Morning RPG ($2.99 from $9.99 until 8/9)
Super Inefficient Golf ($3.99 from $7.99 until 8/9)

And that’s it for today, friends. Tomorrow we’ll cover the rest of this week’s big releases, check out the latest sales and news, and if things come up a little short, perhaps a review or two will happen. I’m crawling back into my bucket of ice, where I may indeed take up residence if this heatwave continues for much longer. See you all tomorrow, and as always, thanks for reading!



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