World for Two Review (PC)

A beautiful, empty world down to one human and a robot that can create more life.

The pixel aesthetic has shined through in indie games for the better part of a decade – titles like Stardew Valley, Shovel Knight, Celeste, and tons others are fan favorites thanks to their gorgeous presentation accompanying the other elements to make a memorable video game. When all the moving parts are in perfect harmony, it’s a formula for a 10/10 experience. World for Two, the newest offering from developer Seventh Rank, aims for that level with a life-creation game in this style.

World for Two Steam Indie PC Review Environment Graphics Pixel Art
There’s no two ways about it – World for Two is a looker.

Gameplay

The official genre title for World for Two is “life-creation”. If you have experience with titles like Monster Rancher, Spore, and other titles where life/death is at the forefront, you’ll have a vague idea of what’s going on here. Your task is to create new organisms, thanks to the DNA/genealogy of previous organisms. With death, comes life; you will harvest the DNA from your creations, and after three DNA pulls, they disappear. Once you create a new organism, you can experiment with DNA/gene combinations to keep discovering more and more new organisms. An area of opportunity here is showing what the outcome is after an attempt, as some combinations yield nothing – it’s guesswork unless you really want to personally note every combination. There was one moment where I tried four different combinations and got nothing out of it, only creating frustration for me.

World for Two Steam Indie PC Review Environment Graphics Family Tree Gameplay
You’re in charge of the family tree – and it gets pretty complicated.

Another big pain point is the fact that you have a lot of waiting around to do in the early game – to create more genes, you’ll need an item that spawns from the blue flame outside the lab. This item has a spawn rate of one every 30 or so seconds, and upgrades to the machines in the lab require 10 of the same currency you utilize for the genes. As such, World for Two basically becomes an idle game – except you have to be tabbed in for the items to come about. With what little time I have to game, this really hurt my view of the game and I wish there was some way to expedite the tedious process, as I could have spent that time finding new combinations.

World for Two Steam Indie PC Review Environment Graphics Gif Flames
There’s a LOT of standing around waiting for flames in World for Two.

Audio

Worthy of note in World for Two is its prime background music. The stellar compositions are the only sound you’ll hear – there’s absolutely no audio in the game otherwise, whether it be speech, item activation, or anything else, so the music carries the weight of the auditory presentation. Coupled with the visuals, its presentation is nailed and will definitely be what hooks in gamers that are easily swayed by the familiar campy aesthetic.

One of the relaxing piano tracks from the game.

Visuals

As you can already see, what steals the show in World for Two is a killer visual experience. Always adorned with a picture-perfect reflection on the bottom of the screen and painstakingly-crafted environments, any moment of the gameplay could be screenshot and used as a wallpaper. Meshed with a silky-smooth 60fps and a day-night shift, this game gets high marks for mastering the hook of pixel-based shots.

World for Two Steam Indie PC Review Environment Graphics Gif

Plot

There’s not too much exposition given in World for Two – because not much is needed. As far as you can tell as the newly-built android, you’re the errand runner for the last human on Earth, a scientist who has crafted a laboratory perfect for building new life forms. Equipped with a Gene Printer, an Item Printer, and an Incubator, you have the tools for the task, but the ingredients are a different story. You can gather bits and pieces of what may have happened as you traverse each of the four areas which unlock after upgrades. For a title with its plot established within the first few minutes, there’s not much suspense to build after the fact.

So, why should you play it?

  • Unbelievable pixel visuals that will stun even weathered fans of the aesthetic.
  • A novel concept that a lot of people haven’t experienced.
  • Great for fans of experimentation and a stress-free game.

But why shouldn’t you play it?

  • Inevitability of waiting around to progress.
  • Repetitive nature.
  • Likelihood of making the same mistakes in creation with no guidance.

A press copy of World for Two was provided courtesy of the publisher.

Before I Forget Review – Nintendo Switch

In recent years, thanks to the growing popularity of indie games and small teams of developers, videogames have provided a means of discussing impactful topics. Often with only several people working on a game, this allows for unique insight into subject matter that might not otherwise be possible for triple-A titles. Notable titles like the widely-celebrated and brutally-difficult Celeste, which cleverly discusses depression and anxiety while climbing both a literal and figurative mountain, or Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice, a dark fantasy in which the player is made to experience psychosis, are both brilliant representations of mental health in video games. Games like these do not stigmatise or portray such difficult topics in a negative light, but rather help to promote understanding and discussion.

Chances are you may know someone, or have friends or family who have a loved one affected by dementia – in Australia alone there are 472,000 people living with dementia, and almost 1.6 million people involved in their care. This complex collection of symptoms can lead to memory loss, confusion, and impairment of thinking, making even simple daily activities into challenging tasks. A condition for which there is no prevention or cure, and of initial signs that can often be subtle or vague. Dementia is chronic and can progress to the point where it can become debilitating or even fatal. So how can a videogame attempt to replicate and provide insight into such a complex set of neurological symptoms?

This has been achieved in Before I Forget, a story-rich experience that is less of a traditional videogame, and more of a succinct interactive, artistic insight into the emotional impact of dementia. Created by 3-Fold Games and conceptualised at a Game Jam in 2016, the game launched as a Humble Original for PC in 2020 and received a BAFTA nomination earlier this year as a “Game Beyond Entertainment” (which has been received by games such as Hellblade and Animal Crossing: New Horizons). Now available on Nintendo Switch, how does such an impactful, thought-provoking game fare on a handheld console?

Story

The player takes control of Sunita Appleby, a Indian Cosmologist and a celebrated scientist – though these accolades have since become remnants of her fragmented past. Once a brilliant mind, Sunita is now affected by symptoms of dementia; her memories of family and friends fade in and out of view from within the window panes of her small home in which the entire game takes place. Finding herself trapped in her own porch, a small post-it note adhered to the wall sparks a memory of her loved one.

Unpaid bills lay scattered that Sunita has no recollection of, voice messages are left on her phone by friends who are now complete strangers, and through empty hallways echo the sound of melancholy piano played by none other than virtuoso pianist, Dylan Appleby, Sunita’s husband. This short story follows several days of Sunita’s life as she seeks to find Dylan and overcome simple challenges at home. Though the story takes place from her current perspective, you’ll be able to piece together her past through recollections, forgotten conversations, treasured mementos, and nostalgic flashbacks of key life moments.

Before I Forget Nintendo Switch Sunita Dylan
Sunita and Dylan are never seen in the game; you’ll find their images throughout the house.

Although short, the story is insightful, emotive, and at times even amusing and heart-warming. Impressively Before I Forget manages to achieve a deep emotional connection between Sunita and Dylan within a timeframe where most other videogame narratives would only be setting the scene.

Gameplay

Some may classify Before I Forget as a “Walking Simulator“, a sub-genre of games in which the primary gameplay involves controlling a character that walks and interacts with objects to unravel a story (think Dear Esther & Gone Home for example). In order to focus on a narrative, aspects of gameplay are minimal, though this does not detract from the overall experience of the game. Sometimes even navigating throughout Sunita’s small house can be a difficult task, as could be the case for those with dementia. Particular parts of the game may fool you into thinking you’ve gone in the wrong direction, or surprise you with hinderances that in reality do not actually exist.

Before I Forget Nintendo Switch Dementia visuals
Even the simple task of walking can sometimes be difficult.

Interacting with certain items in the game will prompt flashbacks of memories, in which you’re given insight into Sunita’s life, her relationship with Dylan, or her childhood. Although these events are mostly quite straightforward, they provide more depth to the narrative. You’ll likely miss a lot of these small details during your first playthrough, as not all of them are necessary for progression, which provides some incentive to play the game an additional time.

Before I Forget Nintendo Switch Flashback Art
This stargazing flashback of Sunita’s childhood is particularly heart-warming.

Visuals

This is one of the most appealing aspects of Before I Forget – I’d compare the visuals to a fusion of real life and an impressionist painting. At the beginning of the game, the surroundings are dull and devoid of colour to represent Sunita’s lack of memory. With further progression and interaction with more elements, her memory breathes life into the game’s visuals and colour begins to once again wash across the house like watercolour paint slowly spreading across a canvas. It’s a beautiful visual effect and is highly satisfying to see a bland room eventually transformed in pastel colours – quite a unique way to gauge the player’s progression through the game.

Rooms will begin to regain their detail and colour as you explore them.

Despite being played on the small, handheld screen of the Nintendo Switch, the simple visuals of the game still look incredibly attractive thanks to this art-style. There were even moments where I found myself pausing to admire the surroundings and snap a few screenshots before moving on.

In juxtaposition to the game’s gorgeous visuals, there are hindering visual elements designed to represent Sunita’s symptoms of dementia. Often the screen will have a hazy visual effect or at key moments will distort to appear chaotic and confusing, making it intentionally tricky to navigate an otherwise simple hallway. I would have liked to have seen more use of these sort of visuals though, as there were only a couple of instances where they had a significant impact.

Before I Forget Nintendo Switch Dementia visuals
At times Sunita feels trapped or lost within her own house.

Audio

Clever audio design is a key aspect in Before I Forget. Heavy footsteps on hardwood floors might prompt you to explore your surroundings, echoing piano notes from the distance call you to walk towards them, and thoughts and conversations from the past regularly play out in Sunita’s head. You’ll also hear quite a bit of dialogue throughout the game from Sunita, her mother, and Dylan. All have excellent performances from their voice actors and become highly emotive toward the end of the game. The simple piano soundtrack too is quite fitting, as music is often played by memories of Dylan who is a talented pianist. Here’s a short snippet in which you can literally watch the world go by while you enjoy the music:

Though I usually find myself fawning over game soundtracks, my favourite aspect of the audio is the inclusion of a full developer commentary. When starting the game you can choose to turn this on, and in doing so you’ll be prompted with hovering speech bubbles throughout your journey through the game. These snippets each a couple minutes long, contain interesting banter from most of the team who worked on the game, and felt as if I was listening to an interactive podcast. I wish more indie games would include commentary like this as an added bonus! It really offered me incentive to play through the game again with the commentary turned on.

Before I Forget Nintendo Switch Developer Commentary
These optional floating speech bubbles can be scattered throughout Sunita’s journey.

Conclusion

At only an hour long, Before I Forget feels like less of a traditional videogame and more of an interactive art piece, designed to offer insight into the topic of dementia and does so by portraying an impactful story with emotional character connections in a single sitting. In consulting with two psychiatrists (Dr Donald Sevant and Dr David Codling) for their medical expertise, 3-Fold Games have managed to create a melancholy but poignant story that highlights the challenges faced by those with dementia. I personally found myself to be quite moved by the experience. Though not all will find the game appealing, players with a fondness for artistic games or those seeking a narrative with an important message will find the experience worthwhile.

So, why should you play it?

  • You enjoy concise games with a focus on an emotional narrative.
  • Artistic games with very basic gameplay usually appeal to you.
  • You’d like to try understand a bit more about dementia.
  • It’s hard to find time for long games – this game can be easily played and completed in a single sitting.

But why shouldn’t you play it?

  • You’d rather play games to keep yourself occupied for hours at a time.
  • If videogames are more of a way to escape life’s tricky topics rather than to experience them.

To seek help regarding dementia, or if you need to help a family member or a friend that is affected, you can reach out to the National Dementia Helpline on 1800 100 500 or via the Dementia Australia website.
If you or someone you care for is in need of support, please call Lifeline on 13 11 14.

A review code was provided for the purpose of this review.

TASOMACHI: Behind the Twilight Review – PC

nocras is a name in the gaming industry you may not know, but one that deserves to be known. This individual is an environmental artist that has worked on the likes of Final Fantasy XIV, Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, and much more. Notable for grand-scale creations, nocras is an artist that 47k Twitter users follow closely, across language barriers and more.

nocras’ latest venture is TASOMACHI: Behind the Twilight. One look at screenshots and one may be in awe at the vibrant, elaborate environments broadcast straight from nocras’ vision. Thankfully, there’s more to it than just that, as TASOMACHI serves as a platformer/collectathon in the vein of Super Mario Odyssey and the like.

I could have screenshot any moment of the game and it would prove to be a looker.

GAMEPLAY/PLOT

TASOMACHI tasks the player with navigating towns and collecting Sources of Earth to repair their airship. These are hidden in bushes, the ground, and in other hard-to-reach places, demanding the player to platform their way across town. Along the way, they will encounter shrines in the towns with four platforming challenges each. Once completed, the towns’ mysterious fog disappears and the cat-like villagers return.

VISUALS

Some of the gorgeous environments you’ll explore, scattered with Chinese-style architecture.

Likely the most significant aspect of why TASOMACHI is moving copies is thanks to the mind of nocras. Together with developer Orbital Express, the atmosphere, inspired by a Chinese imperial aesthetic, is eye candy. It feels worthwhile to complete the shrines and make the towns look abuzz with no obfuscation from the fog, a true night-and-day difference. While architecture gets a bit redundant, the color scheme between towns sets them apart enough thanks to varying level design.

AUDIO

Another big draw that I didn’t realize until I took a gander at the Steam page was that Ujico/Snail’s House provided the music for the game. This musical artist is near and dear to me, as they provided the backdrop for some hilarious TF2 SFM videos, and can stretch from quirky bops to scenic jams across their discography. They delivered a standup job in TASOMACHI, providing ambient grace in exploration sections and upbeat tracks during platform dungeons.

CASUAL

Those looking for a relaxed time, look no further. There’s no combat in TASOMACHI: Behind the Twilight, and you’ll only lose a few seconds if you fall during a platform challenge. This laid-back pace will make it welcoming for casual players seeking pretty sights and sounds.

Towns are shrouded in fog until you clear platforming challenges within shrines.

CONS

Unfortunately, there are still some pain points within this game. The movement is fairly tight, a necessity for platformers, but requires some getting used to since it’s so floaty. One ability you unlock, “boost”, feels miniscule and nothing like a dash you may see in games within the genre. Text and animation feels similar to some that I’ve seen in early-access/shovelware titles, but not jarring enough to be more than a nitpick. Worse off, I encountered a crash every time I attempted to load the third town. This occurred within a mere 2 hours of gameplay and near to game completion, so it truly hampered the mood. Here’s hoping this gets patched soon.

CONCLUSION

Nevertheless, there’s potential to be had with TASOMACHI: Behind the Twilight. It’s undoubtedly gorgeous, an aural pleasure, and a strong first solo effort for nocras. Perhaps the $20 price tag is a bit steep for the state the game’s in, as it currently sits with a “mixed” rating on Steam, but with updates, this could become something great.

So, why should you play it?

  • Relaxed, casual game to experience at your own pace.
  • Bangin’ soundtrack from Ujico/Snail House.
  • Unreal environments.

But why shouldn’t you play it?

  • Game-breaking bug in my build.
  • Some platform challenges are a bit too tough, and need to be skipped.
One of several moments I had to stop and stare. And screenshot.

A PC code was provided for the purpose of this review.

Nintendo Indie World Showcase Summary – 14.4.21

Road 96, OXENFREE II: Lost Signals and OlliOlli World among the highlights of the Indie World Showcase

Autumn is in the air, and the latest indie adventures on Nintendo Switch are here with the cool change. During the latest Indie World video presentation, Nintendo detailed 21 games from independent developers that are coming to Nintendo Switch – with three having launched today.

Indie games featured in the showcase include Road 96, a procedural story-driven game from DigixArt that will change depending on the choices you make; OXENFREE II: Lost Signals, a direct sequel to the original acclaimed supernatural game from Night School Studio; OlliOlli World, Roll7’s new skateboarding action game in the totally gnarly OlliOlli franchise, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge, a side scrolling beat ’em up invoking the Turtles’ legendary 1987 design; and The Longing, an experimental real-time adventure from Studio Seufz that launched today for Nintendo Switch.

Additionally, an Indie World sale is starting today in Nintendo eShop, offering discounts on select indie games for Nintendo Switch from now until 25th April.

To view the Indie World video in its entirety, visit Indie World – 15/04/2021 (Nintendo Switch).

The highlights revealed in the video include:

  • Road 96 from DigixArt: In a narrative-focused game with a mix of adventure, exploration and puzzle-solving, Road 96 tells a procedural story with thousands of potential paths to take. Meet characters from all walks of life and learn their intertwining stories. The decisions you make – both big and small – can drastically alter your experience. There are many roads. Which one will you take? Road 96 drives onto Nintendo Switch later this year.
  • OXENFREE II: Lost Signals from Night School Studio: Published by MWM Interactive, OXENFREE II: Lost Signals is a supernatural narrative adventure game about a researcher who stumbles upon ghostly happenings. Five years after the events of OXENFREE, Riley returns to her hometown of Camena to investigate mysterious radio frequency signals causing curious disturbances. OXENFREE II: Lost Signals comes to Nintendo Switch in 2021.
  • OlliOlliWorld from Roll7: The bold new entry in the OlliOlli series is here! In OlliOlli World, tear up the streets of Radland and search for the mystical skate gods in this slick action platformer. With super-tight controls and level design that flows with your combos, you’ll have a blast mastering tricks, meeting colourful characters and discovering the hidden secrets of this vivid and vibrant world. OlliOlli World launches for Nintendo Switch this summer.
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge from Tribute Games: With a blend of retro and modern visuals, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge finds the four favourite turtles kicking some serious shell in classic arcade-style beat-’em-up action. Up to four players can play locally* or online in this bodacious game developed by Tribute Games and published by Dotemu, who also published Streets of Rage 4 and Wonder Boy: The Dragon’s Trap. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge launches for Nintendo Switch later this year.
  • The Longing from Studio Seufz: With a beautiful hand-drawn art style and an intriguing story, The Longing is unlike anything you have played before. The big twist: You don’t actually have to play to see how it ends. But that doesn’t mean you should just sit idly by. As main character Shade, you must wait 400 days for your king to awaken. While waiting, you can explore dark caves, complete time-based puzzles and collect items. Start your countdown clock now, as The Longing is out now on Nintendo Switch.
  • Annapurna Interactive: Two new games from Annapurna Interactive, the award-winning publishers of Florence and What Remains of Edith Finch, are coming to Nintendo Switch. These are just the latest artistic gems from the publisher’s already impressive library of games:
  • Hindsight from Annapurna Interactive: Hindsight from developer Joel McDonald is a poignant narrative game about an older woman reminiscing about her family. The objects from her past serve as portals into long-lost memories, revealing a decision that forever changed her life. Learn more when Hindsight launches for Nintendo Switch this year.
  • Last Stop from Annapurna Interactive: Last Stop from developer Variable State is a single-player third-person adventure set in modern-day London, where you play as three separate characters whose worlds collide in the midst of a supernatural crisis. What connects these three strangers? Where will fate lead them? Find out when Last Stop launches for Nintendo Switch in July.
  • Aerial_Knight’sNever Yield from Aerial_Knight: This is not your typical “runner” game! Run, jump, slide and dash through a futuristic Tokyo-styled Detroit to a head-bopping soundtrack as the protagonist Wally to save what’s left of the future. Aerial_Knight’s Never Yield slides onto Nintendo Switch on 19th May. A demo will be available to download now in Nintendo eShop.
  • FEZ from Polytron: Gomez is a 2D creature living in a 2D world. Or is he? When the existence of a mysterious third dimension is revealed to him, Gomez is sent out on a journey that will take him to the very end of time and space. Use your ability to navigate 3D structures from four distinct classic 2D perspectives. The critically acclaimed FEZ is available now on Nintendo Switch.
  • Aztech Forgotten Gods from Lienzo: If you’re looking for a grand adventure inspired by Aztec mythology, look no further than Aztech Forgotten Gods from Mexican studio Lienzo. Gain powerful arm upgrades, traverse different areas within an advanced Mesoamerican metropolis and encounter all sorts of characters to uncover ancient secrets. Aztech Forgotten Gods soars onto Nintendo Switch this spring.
  • There is No Game: Wrong Dimension from Draw Me A Pixel: Despite its title, this really is a game! There is No Game: Wrong Dimension is a point-and-click comedy adventure filled with riddles and puzzles. If you’re looking for something different and experimental that’s full of surprises, look no further. There is No Game: Wrong Dimension is out now on Nintendo Switch.
  • Cris Tales from Dreams Uncorporated and SYCK: Drawing inspiration from classic and modern JRPGs, Cris Tales incorporates time traveling into its storyline and combat with a variety of surprise effects, like making enemies younger and thus easier to defeat. While exploring this handcrafted, dark fairy-tale world, you’ll recruit a diverse cast of allies and discover new realms. Cris Tales lands on Nintendo Switch on 20th July.
  • GetsuFumaDen: Undying Moon from Konami Digital Entertainment and GuruGuru: Showcasing a stylized Japanese aesthetic, GetsuFumaDen: Undying Moon delivers a dynamic hack-and-slash roguelite experience, filled with perilous dungeons, fierce boss battles and intense, skill-based combat. GetsuFumaDen: Undying Moon launches for Nintendo Switch next year.
  • Beasts of Maravilla Island from Banana Bird Studios, LLC: In this 3D adventure game, take on the role of a young wildlife photographer who traverses Maravilla Island’s magical ecosystems to discover extraordinary creatures, learn their behaviours and, most importantly, photograph their majesty. Beasts of Maravilla Island launches for Nintendo Switch in June.
  • Skul: The Hero Slayer from SouthPAW Games: Take on an entire army to rescue your king in this 2D fast-action roguelite. And the best part? To progress in the game, you’ll need to swap abilities, which is done by swapping … heads. With 90 playable character variations, each with their own special abilities, you might think you’re out of your skull in real life. Skul: The Hero Slayer launches for Nintendo Switch this winter.
  • art of rally from Funselektor Labs Inc.: Will you master the art of rally? Drive iconic cars inspired by the golden era of rally racing on challenging stages through stylized environments set around the world. art of rally launches for Nintendo Switch this winter.
  • KeyWe from Stonewheat & Sons: KeyWe is a cute, cooperative postal puzzler starring two small kiwi birds working in a whimsical post office. They must jump, flap and butt-slam across an interactive landscape of levers, bells and buttons to get those messages delivered on time. KeyWe launches for Nintendo Switch in August.
  • ENDER LILIES: Quietus of the Knights from Adglobe: In this dark fantasy 2D action-RPG, encounter horrific enemies against whom a moment of inattention could be fatal. Overcome these hardships and seek the truth with the help of fallen knights. ENDER LILIES: Quietus of the Knights launches for Nintendo Switch on 22nd June.
  • Weaving Tides from Follow the Feathers: Call your Weaver and soar across a stunning woven landscape. Set out on a journey to explore ancient dungeons, solve puzzles, wrap up your foes and unravel the great mysteries of a long-forgotten past. Weaving Tides, a charming single-player adventure set in a world of magic and textile, launches for Nintendo Switch in May.
  • Labyrinth City: Pierre the Maze Detective from Darjeeling: Adapted from the children’s book series, Labyrinth City: Pierre the Maze Detective takes you across incredibly detailed mazes to retrieve a powerful artifact. On your quest, you will interact with more than 500 items or characters, find over 100 hidden objects and wander about in beautiful locations. Labyrinth City: Pierre the Maze Detective launches for Nintendo Switch this autumn.
  • The House of the Dead: Remake from MegaPixel Studio: The classic arcade rail-shooter is back with a new makeover and exciting gameplay changes. In this multiplayer game, you’ll suit up as a pair of government agents sent to investigate disappearances only to find hordes of undead monstrosities. The House of the Dead: Remake launches for Nintendo Switch later this year.

…and that’s a wrap!
Some really awesome titles announced – very excited to play these. Oxenfree is a personal favourite of mine and is one of the best games on the Switch, so I’m most looking forward to the sequel. What’s top of your list from this bunch of indies? Reach on on socials and let me know!

Scott Pilgrim vs The World: The Game – Complete Edition Review (PC)

A pilgrimage back to an iconic modern beat ’em up.

The year is 2010. A simpler time.

Books are overrated and don’t have enough pictures, so you’re flipping through a graphic novel:
…it’s Scott Pilgrim.
You’re at the cinema, purchasing overpriced popcorn to eat during a new movie starring an awkward Michael Cera:
…it’s Scott Pilgrim.
You get home and turn on your Xbox 360 and log onto Xbox Live, and what’s on the home screen?
…it’s Scott Pilgrim.

It was the series of graphic novels that for a brief moment in time seemed to spawn a phenomenon, and then after a year or so in the limelight almost vanished completely. The series is less about teenager Scott Pilgrim and more about his struggles against his newfound love’s Seven Evil Exes, who he must defeat in order to date her. It’s a quirky plot packed full of silly humour and pop-culture references, and became popular enough not only to justify a movie, but a tie-in videogame, and now 10 years later an enhanced version of that same game! But is it worth revisiting?

One ex to rule them all.

If you’ve played the original game, you’ll know exactly what to expect from Complete Edition, as not much has changed. It’s a port of the original game with all added DLC, along with some minor additions and quality-of-life changes, available on PS4/Xbox One/Nintendo Switch/PC and… Google Stadia (I feel dirty typing that). For those that haven’t played it, it’s a retro-style beat ’em with simple controls, gorgeous pixel art, and a banger of a soundtrack. But is it worth playing considering it’s pretty much the same game?

Gameplay

In typical beat ’em up style, the gameplay is very simple: choose from a roster of characters from the series, fight swarms of enemies through seven distinct levels, and defeat one of the evil exes at the end of each level. It’s a game that’s easy to pick up and play, either through single player, local co-op, or now in Complete Edition through online co-op (which is how I played majority of the game). There’s not really much that stands out about its gameplay – characters have slightly different play styles, can be levelled up to unlock new attacks and abilities, and by spending in-game currency you can purchase food and other items to improve the characters’ stats.

Can’t put your feet up on the train seats, but fighting is perfectly fine.

Combat initially can be quite a challenge (especially if you’re a rookie to the genre like myself), as enemies easily stun-lock and swarm you without giving you a chance to fight back. Bosses are the same, but follow more of a pattern that allows you to predict and dodge their attacks. Thankfully over the course of the game you’ll have access to shops, weapons and abilities that allow you to dispatch enemies more efficiently, but it took me the majority of the game before I truly had a hang of the combat. If you have the option, I’d recommend playing the game with a friend. Not only is it significantly more fun and less gruelling than single player mode, but you also have the ability to revive allies on screen by mashing a button over their lifeless corpse.

Oh, and on the topic of lifeless corpses, at the end of every level you’re rewarded with a scene of Scott and Ramona making out (much to the disgust of their friends). And sometimes on the top of a pile of lifeless corpses is just the most romantic place.

Gross. The kissing, not the corpses.

Visuals and Style

Its style is hands down the best aspect of the game. The pixel art is vibrant and detailed, with heavy character outlines and intricate backgrounds. In reflecting the style of art from the graphic novels, the game achieves an eye-catching visual aesthetic that works incredibly well and makes the characters, enemies, and environments all stand out against each other. Although sometimes the screen can become quite busy, you’ll rarely lose track of your character thanks to this design.

Each level also has a distinct design themed around the evil ex and their hideout, with matching enemies many of which have very amusing outfits and attacks. You’ll fight through the snowy streets of downtown Toronto, defend against katana-wielding ninjas in a flaming teppanyaki restaurant, and of course fight a giant robot boss on top of a skyscraper. Many times throughout the game I found myself stopping to admire the designs of not only the levels, but some of the animations which are incredibly detailed and impressive (see below).

There are also many visual homages to other series/games, and plenty of pop culture references. For example in one of the later stages a boss battle starts with a Guitar Hero sequence. You can also purchase an Energy Tank to restore your health, and the logo looks like it’s directly ripped from Mega Man. The overworld too is a nice touch, as its retro design is clearly a throwback to the SNES classic, Super Mario World.

The overworld, or should I say, Super Mario Overworld.

Audio and Soundtrack

There’s no way I could write this review without mentioning the killer soundtrack that features in the Scott Pilgrim game. As you fight through the game’s levels and boss battles you’ll notice an intense, fast-paced blend of chiptunes and pop/rock with heaps of catchy licks. That’s thanks to New York-based chiptune rock band: Anamanaguchi. Like other bands in the Nintendcore genre of music (yep, that’s a thing) they use hardware like a Gameboy and NES to play alongside guitar, bass and drums. It’s a sound that seems to fit perfectly in the setting of the Scott Pilgrim game, and a creative way to modernise chiptunes.

To celebrate the launch of Complete Edition, the band even played the entire soundtrack live!
You can find it here: Anamanaguchi – Scott Pilgrim vs the World: The Game Soundtrack

What else?

In addition to the main gameplay which can be completed by yourself or with a friend, there are four other game modes. First is a boss rush mode in which you face off against every single boss in a row to challenge yourself – I found this was an easy way to revisit some of the cool moments from each boss. There are also three minigames that were introduced as part of the original game’s DLC:

Survival Horror – an endless fight against constantly-spawning zombie enemies.
Battle Royale – no, it’s not 1 v 100. It’s basically PvP and has you fighting against each other in a small arena.
Dodgeball – no weapons this time, your only attack is throwing a small ball at your opponents. Just like real life.

The DLC characters, Knives and Wallace, from the original game are also made available from the start, and there’s an added secret character that unlocks once you beat the game with the four main characters. Though unless you’re a completionist I probably wouldn’t bother with this.

So why should I play it?

  • You haven’t played the original game.
  • Cool pixel art always catches your eye.
  • You’re wanting a simple game to play with friends.
  • Chiptunes and game soundtracks are your jam.

But why shouldn’t I play it?

  • There’s nobody else for you to play the game with. 😦
  • You’ve already played the original game to completion.
  • Lengthy games are more your thing, as this can be finished in a couple hours.
  • You don’t want to download the Ubisoft PC client (if playing on PC).

A download code was provided for the purpose of this review, which was played on PC.