While gameplay on the Switch is poorly optimized, Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night is (to steal a Symphony of the Night meme) more than a "miserable pile of secrets." In its purest form, it is worthy of Koji Igarashi's legacy and will live on as a strong representation of the genre he helped birth. With matured mechanics with the shards system, options for varied play styles, and the edition of quests, Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night will join the ranks of high quality Metroidvania titles worth replaying over and over again.
Gato Roboto is a delightful Metroidvania title that favors the classics enough to feel a sense of connection to them while forging is own path forward. Filled with plenty of humor, challenge, and healthy heap of cattitude, Gato Roboto is a purr-fectly satisfy title.
If you are looking for a stroll down Mega Man-memory lane, Venture Kid offers a solid nostalgia trip down the side streets of the genre's general neighborhood. Platforming feels tuned to the best examples of the era. Taking heavy influence from classic NES titles, Venture Kid captures the 8-bit age with pitch perfection, even if it misses the mark in other places.
While the creation of Dig Dog is a true underdog tale, the game stands on its own four feet - wagging tail and all. It's highly accessible to players of all skill ranges, but offers a challenging sandbox to play in. Overall, if you are looking for a classic arcade-style digger with a fun ambiance, Dig Dog is a very, very good boy.
If you are looking for an interesting top-down shooter with some fresh mechanics, something with a pen-and-paper art aesthetic, or you just have a soft spot for a good, old-fashioned western, 12 Is Better Than 6 is a good title to consider. It's mix of face reaction with stealth setup can turn the tides from calculating to chaotic at any moment, keeping you on your toes.
Claybook puts the players into a world of clay creation and imagination to solve puzzles while getting your hands dirty. Its vibrant, whimsical colors and designs evoke a child-like wonder for creation over the course of its twenty levels, but it falls short by gating content behind an ambiguous rating system.
Capturing the essence of the 1991 classic, HumaNature Studios hits all of the right notes with ToeJam & Earl: Back in the Groove. With nine playable characters, light RPG progression, online co-operative gameplay, and a whole lot of funk, the latest entry into the ToeJam & Earl franchise rests solidly in the pocket where it is meant to be.
RIOT: Civil Unrest seeks to share both sides of global events of upheaval. While it is presented in masterfully crafter low fidelity pixel art, the controls on the Nintendo Switch are simply lacking in the care and finesse the rest of the game shows. If you are going to check it out, we would highly recommend the PC platform over the Switch.
Lonely In The Winter is a turn-based JPRG that falls a bit short of where it could be. With poorly optimized moments which cause frame rates to tank and a story that feels inconclusive, it feels like an Early Access title more than a completed project. That being said, the story does have some potential if it were fleshed out more. If you are looking for a JRPG, but want to be limitedly invested, Lonely In The Winter is not a bad evening distraction.
If you are looking for an uncensored, no punches pulled platformer with a healthy heap one-liners and fast flying bullets, Rad Rodgers: Radical Edition may just be your on-the-go ticket to the past. Be forewarned: it is a trippy ride with some bumps along the way. However, some experiences from the past are worth revisiting in all of their awkwardness and discomfort. They may just remind us how much we have grown… or how much we still love a good fart joke.
OlliOlli: Switch Stance is a 2D skateboarding simulator that refuses to lie to its players. You will struggle and you will experience pain. It is going to be difficult, but if you can pull it off, it can be incredibly satisfying… even if the execution of such tricks involved a healthy heaping of dumb luck and/or divine intervention.
When Ski Lifts Go Wrong is a brightly colored exercise in balancing creativity and gleeful devastation. You get to choose how your patrons get from one end of a course to another by choosing the most elaborate or elaborately janky means to achieve your goal. For the adventurous parents who want to build with their kids, When Ski Lifts Go Wrong does have a gore filter to keep the bloody mayhem at a minimum.
If you are looking for a game that will constantly have you asking yourself what you just experienced, Pikuniku may just be what you are looking for. The main story can take you anywhere from 3 - 5 hours along with nine co-operative levels, trophies to discover, and achievements to unlock. Pikuniku is a truly delightful fever-dream on two spindly legs.
Bladed Fury attempts to tell a tale from Chinese legend, but exiles itself into the realm of the unremarkable with several missteps. Combat is not terribly deep and the precision strike system is no implemented well, though the Soul Sliver system adds a unique touch to it. While the sound design encapsulates eastern inspiration, the art design struggles to find footing in one place.
With the emphasis on choice, Sundered give you the opportunity to unlock multiple endings by pursuing the paths of full rejection to full embrace of the darkness. With the extensive map sizes, fast action pace, and high difficulty, Sundered is sure to keep you exploring and fighting for your survival for 10+ hours per play through. It is a satisfying Metroidvania title to close out a year of stellar offerings within the genre.
Matching pixel stylings with the ambient soundscapes of Jim Guthrie makes Swordbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP a wonderfully weird journey with a good balance of action and puzzle-puzzle-solving. Some of the puzzling can get repetitive, but it's self-aware humor makes these woeful errands less burdensome. With the Nintendo Switch's controller options, Swordbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP finds a welcome home, deserving of a spot on your playlist.