24/07/2020

๐Ÿ”ซ Outbuddies DX | Review | Nintendo Switch | "A Hefty Metroidvania With Retro-Styled Visuals" ๐Ÿ”ซ @HeadupGames @IndieJGames #GameDev #IndieGames

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Outbuddies DX is a hefty Metroidvania with retro-styled visuals, Outbuddies DX has some neat twists on the formula and some sterling audio-work but a clunky control scheme and an unwieldy map-system are detrimental to the flow of the game.

Game Title: Outbuddies DX
Developer: Julian Laufer
Platform Reviewed: Nintendo Switch
Rating: Melting


Following a shipwreck, Nikolay Bernstein regains consciousness deep beneath the sea, his only companion a supernatural buddy-unit. Take control of Nikolay as he explores this vast undersea cave system of Bahlam with his glorious moustache.

It feels like I’ve played a lot of Metroidvania games over the past year or so. Initially, Outbuddies DX felt like it could really stand out from the pack, the visuals are chunky and appealing, the music completely sets the mood and the game mechanics felt familiar and accessible but with the added dimension of the buddy-unit, which is used in-game as a way of solving various puzzles and is brought into play by pushing ‘up’ on the right thumb-stick. 
After a little while, however, what initially felt fresh actually got in the way of my enjoyment. Enemies often fire projectiles which can sometimes only be dodged by a forward roll, in the more enclosed spaces and especially on platforming sections, you don’t have the space to utilise this to its full effect and often find yourself in a situation where it’s better to take a hit than to risk rolling back down the screen. 

There were also occasions where the controls didn’t feel quite as responsive as I’d have liked and I’d randomly crawl or not quite make a jump and have to re-climb ladders to try again, it felt slightly rigid throughout.
The map system reminded me of Super Epic (before the post-release map patch) in that, whilst it shows you the areas you have visited, the various coloured dots scattered around the labyrinthine cave system have little meaning and it’s not clear if areas have been fully explored, there’s more to be discovered or if you’ve missed something, I can imagine this would be especially galling if you were to have a few days away from the game as it would really be tough to find out what you were supposed to be doing and where you were headed.

There are some parts of the game that shine, though. The boss battles are tense and well-designed along with the hallmarks of the genre such as wall-destroying bombs unveiling secrets remaining satisfying and the buddy-unit puzzles are a nice twist on things. That said, the choice by the developer to have a purely image-based menu system (reminiscent of some sports management games on the Amiga) means that everything feels slightly abstract.
I was at a point in the game where I needed my buddy to do something to help me along the way and I assumed that I had just forgotten the button combination (switching to your buddy re-maps the controls to the buddy abilities) but the control scheme screen in the in-game menu was little help and I had to do a touch of online research to find out that the section I was on required an ability that I hadn’t yet unlocked.

In summary, Outbuddies DX is a solid Metroidvania with some nice ideas but some unfortunate flaws. 

If you are a fan of the genre then this is definitely worth a purchase but it may be a bit too finicky for newcomers and players who prefer a breezier experience. 

Either way, I wouldn’t suggest taking too long a break between sessions or you’ll end up wandering the cave systems of Bahlam forever, swearing at the map screen.
๐Ÿ’ง❄️ RATING: MELTING ❄️๐Ÿ’ง

Ratings Explained
ICE COOL (Great Game Recommended)
MELTING (Recommended with reservations, one to consider if you are a fan of the genre)
MELTED (Not A Recommended Purchase)

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