Since the release of the Nintendo Switch back in 2017 an incredible amount of games have reached the eStore, so it should come as no surprise that amidst the Mario’s and Zelda’s, some of the small titles can be overlooked sometimes. Which is why I decided to bring you five games that I personally think are worth checking out if you are looking for something to play.
When I first played Celeste back in 2018 it not only instantly became my game of the year but it also skyrocketed straight to the top of my favourite games of all time list. It is an incredibly challenging 2D platformer – my personal death toll was closing in on 1,500 deaths during my first playthrough – however, despite the difficulty it is a testimony to the game design and the story that it tells that not a single one of those deaths frustrated or angered me. The story of Celeste follows Madeline and her personal goal to climb a mountain in an attempt to come to terms with the depression and anxiety that she has faced over the last couple of years. The difficulty that the player faces in climbing Celeste Mountain perfectly encompasses the difficulty faced by Madeline in trying to overcome the struggles that her mental health poses and this encourages the player to continue, throughout all the death and mistakes, as giving up on the game would in turn be giving up on Madeline. Lena Raine deserves a special mention for the soundtrack as it perfectly reflects the emotions that the player feels throughout the game. And for those who finish the story and want to push themselves to even greater feats there are collectable strawberries to reach and each stage has a B and C side that take the difficulty to a completely different level.
Celeste is available now on the Nintendo eStore for £17.99 ($19.99)
Bad North is a real-time strategy game that sets the player the task of taking command of up to four units to defend procedurally generated islands from invading vikings. Whilst the RTS genre usually sparks fear in the average console player the minimalistic approach taken by Plausible Concept for the design of the game is perfect for the portable nature of the Nintendo Switch. Fighting against the vikings feels wonderfully tense when your units are starting to lose men and you see more ships approaching on the horizon and with the islands being procedurally generated the player is forced to change their approach depending on the layout of the land. High ground lends itself well to natural choke points and archers, whereas flat ground poses a significant challenge in the later stages of a campaign. Permadeath is present meaning that a wrong tactical decision can lead to a run coming to a premature end very quickly. And for those who pick it up and love it as much as I do, a recent content expansion called the Jotunn Edition was released by the team at Plausible Content, bringing a whole host of improvements to the gameplay including a very hard difficulty setting, new items, and a lot of quality of life/balancing changes.
Bad North is available now on the Nintendo eStore for £13.49 ($14.99)
Katana Zero is best described as a 2D take on the Hotline Miami formula, emphasising a very familiar trial-by-error approach to the combat, making every level feel like a puzzle that can be solved with violence. Each death gives the player the ability to rewind and take a different approach until it all leads to a perfect run – which is then played in real-time to bring you that action reel of bodies dropping to the floor in quick succession. Whilst the combat can be very satisfying, surprisingly it is the moments that the game steps outside of the combat that were some of my favourites. The interaction between the Zero and the little girl in his building or the conversations that take place between him and a rather ominous therapist offer a great respite from the violence and is genuinely intriguing. At times the game can be incredibly beautiful and the visual effects can be fantastic. If you are looking for something to jump into after finishing My Friend Pedro or perhaps are just wishing the Hotline Miami games had made their way over to Switch by now then Katana Zero is definitely a game you should check out.
Katana Zero is available now on the Nintendo eStore for £13.49 ($14.99)
Refunct is by far the most challenging game on this list to persuade someone to buy. It is a very simple 3D platformer that will take you approximately fifteen to thirty minutes to finish – as the price point of £2.49 reflects – and focuses on the player jumping from platform to platform turning them from grey to green. As you are hopping about you will discover a button, and by pressing said button, a whole new section rises from under the water. And so you continue, turning platforms from grey to green and revealing new areas by your button pressing, occasionally being distracted by platforms that launch you into the air and by tubes that you can zoom through. And at the very end… well you will have to play it as I will not spoil it. After completing the game I found myself regularly jumping back into the game for a quick ten minutes to jump, slide and wall bounce myself from platform and platform, enjoying the fantastic soundtrack and letting myself relax in the process, which is a sign of a game that does a lot more with the things that it is built up from than it should.
Refunct is available now on the Nintendo eStore for £2.49 ($2.99)
Crossing Souls is the result of a mashing together of top-down Zelda gameplay and Stranger Things. Set in 1986 you play as Chris and his group of friends who stumble across a dead body and discover the Duat Stone. Through a bit of tinkering they come to the realisation that this mystical object offers access to an alternate dimension and gives the gang the ability to interact with the dead. Given the power of the Duat, it should be no surprise that it is well sought after by more ominous – somewhat Russian feeling – forces, looking to regain possession in an attempt to instigate the ‘One-Day War’. So far, so 80’s. Whilst at first glance it would appear to be an RPG it plays more like beat-em-up with light puzzle and exploration mechanic, however, there is some depth introduced through the way in which the five characters interact with one another. Chris has the ability to knock projectiles back using his baseball bat and can climb, Matt has a laser gun to take a long range approach to combat and rocket shoes to jump further, Charlie has a whip that makes her incredibly effective in combat… you get the gist.
Crossing Souls is available now on the Nintendo eStore for £13.49 ($14.99)
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