Four planets, a heap of upgrades and a whole lot of restarts that could give Dark Souls a run for it’s money.
XEODRIFTER is a game that gives into every inch of 8-bit nostalgia that anyone could ask for. At heart, I myself miss the feel of starting a game with little to no backstory and being given free reign to go about the game without handholding. Not tutorial. No hints. Go and discover for yourself what’s out there and this game hits that nail right on it’s head.
To anyone that didn’t grow up with games like this in their lives it may be quite intimidating. Initially you’re dropped into a space with four planets where, on some, you may be able to do little or nothing of affect. It’s about adventuring, finding your capabilities and working around the puzzles – and enemies – that stand in your way. That might not be for everyone, I know some people might want something more narrative driven, there’s little of that here. That doesn’t mean there’s no substance to XEODRIFTER though, there’s a lot of world building going on here and it’s lovely.
The colours that are presented to you in this world are wonderful, each one pops against the background and perfectly compliments the surroundings. It’s a beautiful game and it’s difficult to say much more, anything else feels like an understatement. Truly, I don’t remember a time where a game of this style engrossed me as much as this. I was flung back to my childhood for the entire time I held the joy cons in my hand.
As I’ve mentioned already, the difficulty of this game stood out for me. When I get a new game I usually stick it on the highest difficulty – I try not to brag – and having to respawn and try over and over doesn’t tend to get my back up. Within minutes of starting my adventure in XEODRIFTER I found myself ready to throw my controller directly at the TV and walk away. That’s one thing that this game manages to give it’s player, satisfaction. The feeling of finding a new power-up or health orb or beating a boss on your 50th try. That’s what makes XEODRIFTER a stand out game in recent memory. It’s been a long time since challenge came this often and since I was forced to think, to back track and to plan something in advance in such detail. It’s masterful.
There are flaws, of course there are flaws. The pause menu is horribly disgusting and is, for the most part, incomprehensible. The music can get quite repetitive at times and although it fits the retro tone it’s trying to achieve there’s something missing. To call it annoying wouldn’t be fair, it’s not that bad but it doesn’t quite feel like it’s had as much effort put into it as the rest of the game. However, it’s one oversight I can deal with purely on the basis that it doesn’t take anything away from the overall experience.
I’ve played a lot of games that have been trying to get in on the 80’s nostalgia, retro platforming hype lately and none of them have left the impression that this has. There’s something so pleasing about the entire package and for a game that was originally released in 2014, surprisingly holds up. The controls are tight – even if there are a few issues involving navigation that may seem a little obscure to start with. The aesthetic is brilliant. The gameplay is fluid and is a hell of a lot of fun to play. Truly it may just be one of the nicest little surprises I’ve had on the Switch to date.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Nintendo Switch code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.