Omega Strike Review [Switch] – Bringing Back The ’90s

Jack Boyles reviews Omega Strike…

The ’90s were the golden age of action in popular culture. You had such great action movies, movies like Die Hard 2, T2 or Cliffhanger; movies that made you sit down and thrilled you with its set pieces. But these films know pacing — they knew not to shove you with stuff every two seconds.

Then there were ’90s video games. The arcades, light gun games, beat em ups; games like Final Fight, Metal Slug. You also had the console market boom with Nintendo vs Sega. Titles like Metroid, Earthworm Jim or Robocop vs Terminator; the action was everywhere, and it served one purpose, to entertain.

Nowadays, action movies and video games take themselves seriously, albeit ridiculous in nature. I feel that creators miss an important part of what made the action entertainment from this era great… Charm.

However, the team at Woblyware have reminded us of a simpler time of gaming with their title, Omega Strike.

Omega Strike has you play as three freedom fighters whose mission is to stop Doctor Omega and his mutant army from dominating the world. Playing as three of the freedom fighters, you must explore the world to find treasure and abilities in this Metroidvania game.

As previously stated, you play as three characters, the main character being Sarge, a Rambo inspired rifleman who has slick hair, the bulking muscle man Bear equipped with his grenade launcher and Dex the agility character with a shotgun. Each character has their abilities that help you access previously inaccessible areas.

The very start of the game has you with all three playable characters. Upon your first meeting of Doctor Omega, he captures Dex and Bear in a classic ‘removal of power’ move that is a staple of the Metroidvania genre. From here you must find Bear and Dex as well as the remaining power-ups scattered across the open world design. Exploring the map, you’ll come across treasure that gives you chunks of money. Destroying barrels and enemies also drops coins that can be used to buy weapon upgrades.

Though, exploration is a big part of the game. So is blasting down enemies. Bear’s grenades bounce and dip making it suitable for hitting enemies below you, Dex’s shotgun is powerful but has a small range, and Sarge’s rifle has the best range but medium power. Flicking through the players on the fly makes this an easy task.

It’s how solid the game feels that is one of the joyous parts of Omega Strike. The way the game plays is extremely polished and responsive. Jumping from platform to platform and dispatching enemies is generally satisfying; you easily slip into the game flow. At times, it doesn’t even feel like a Metroidvania title and would be more suited too a run and gun game from the ’90s.

Omega Strike is a love letter to ’90s video games on the SNES and Megadrive. The 2D pixel art graphics just spark nostalgia from that era of gaming, opting for a cartoon/simpler look than gritty details.

Furthermore, the soundtrack sounds like many of the instrumentals from a SNES cartridge. The tunes also are very hummable which is something lost from video games today; again, harking back to that ’90s generation of gaming.

Though, as polished as this game is, this becomes one of its issues; it never excels in any department.

The game offers no mini map, a staple in Metroidvania titles since Super Metroid. Unlocking the powers does no more than opening previously inaccessible areas and doesn’t change the way you play or think about the game.

As fun as shooting enemies is, it’s annoying not being able to shoot diagonally; meaning you must jump and shoot whenever an enemy is above or bounce Bear’s grenades off the walls in an attempt to hit an enemy below you.

Moreover, you can only switch the player in a preset way. So, if you want Sarge and you are Bear, you’ll have to scan through Dex to get to Sarge. I feel the ability to switch back and forth would add more depth.

Despite these issues, Omega Strike is a fun and polished game which makes these hiccups just bizarre. Though I cannot deny that is a good game and is enjoyable from start to finish. It may not execute everything correctly but what it does, it does it well enough to make the whole experience cohesively entertaining and engaging.

Both modern and retro gamers will find something in this indie title, though I feel people from the ’90s will get more out of this game.

So, grab your bucket hat and popper trousers.

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Uncanny Valley Review [Switch] – Running Away Leads To More Trouble

Sometimes you just need a fresh start – a switch in lifestyles. To pack your things and go. Sometimes you just need to take the risk for your own sanity or to better yourself. A new start, wiping your history, forward thinking is human nature – we run. But no matter how far you run, the past will catch up and come to terms with; for your own sanity… or to better yourself. Jack Boyles reviews Uncanny Valley…

Uncanny Valley has you playing as Tom who is starting a new job as a nightshift security guard in an isolated, abandoned facility. At the start of the game, Tom is a man who appears to be running from something in his past, evidence from the decision to work for this employer and the nightmares that inhabit his dreams.

Though Tom is not completely alone, he has the company day shift security guard, Buck who is rather a lazy man and Eve, a woman who keeps the facility clean and is reminded of someone in her past when she sees Tom. And that my gorgeous reader, is all you are going to know about the story because the less you know, the better the experience.

Uncanny Valley is a narrative-driven survival horror game that states in the opening:

‘Every action you take within the game will lead to different outcomes. To fully experience Uncanny Valley, multiple playthroughs are recommended’.

There is much to uncover in Uncanny Valley. However, do not be put off by the multiple playthroughs, as a playthrough can last anywhere from 20 minutes to roughly 3 hours maximum. It’s this short length that makes Uncanny Valley compelling to play multiple times.

Moreover, the story-driven game will make you play it several times since, in my opinion, this is one of the better horror narratives out there. It may not have the symbolism and subtext of Silent Hill or the Hollywood budget of Resident Evil. What Uncanny Valley offers is a more grounded and thought-provoking horror experience.

You routinely (well you don’t have to if you don’t want to) go to work, this repeated mundanity gives you time to explore the facility. Picking breadcrumbs of information scattered across the facility, finding out what happened there. If you are like me, you may figure out what’s happening before the reveal. But when I saw the reveal for the first time, it didn’t stop it from being impactful; it was more impactful. It’s kind of Hitchcockian in that way; let the audience know to build the tension and it’s that slow build of tension that makes Uncanny Valley’s narrative compelling.

Furthermore, your actions really alter the game, with many of my playthroughs having different events, scenarios and endings. It’s in your second playthrough you start to realize how these actions really do affect these outcomes. As one new small change can alter your previous conception of coming events. A small detail you may have forgotten about in the first playthrough may have a much bigger impact.

The developer Cowardly Creations, not only make you think about the decisions you can make but how your knowledge of coming events may still influence your current playthrough.

Additionally, it’s not only narrative consequences you must think of when playing Uncanny Valley. The gameplay can be affected by the consequence system as Tom can get injured in various parts of the body stopping him doing certain actions. A knee injury will stop Tom from crawling in vents or an injured arm will affect him using a weapon.

Marketed as a 2D pixel art story-driven survival horror game, I feel the game takes its cues from adventure games. Gameplay is more about solving puzzles using lateral thinking to progress the story or get you out of situations.

Also, there is a slight stealth mechanic, requiring you to hide more than fight due to the enemies withstanding bullets. Hiding spots such as vents are advisable due to Tom’s lack of stamina – making him easy prey if spotted.

Credit is due to the sound designer for making the enemies terrifying. Hearing the loud bang of the enemy’s movements will instantly set a sense of dread within you as you know if they see you… Tom’s physique is no match. The loud grunted speech when they spot you will jolt you with fear, making you panic.

Added with the raw pixel art aesthetic, it tonally hits its mark. The pixel art, with its limited fidelity mirrors that of the narrative, uncertainty; enough detail for you to know what’s happening but with the finer details missing.

The game isn’t for everyone though. Many players may dislike having to start again and not loading saves at various points to change story outcomes. Another issue I could see some players having is that Tom struggles to defend himself even with a handgun — not being able to run for long period of time; as the result in death can see you starting from the beginning of the game.

I did encounter a glitch where Buck went home from his shift for him to reappear at the end of my shift. It was nothing game breaking and didn’t affect anything storyline wise; though hopefully, nothing like that will come at important times within the game.

Uncanny Valley is a narrative based survival horror game that rivals other indie horror titles and some AAA horror titles. The story twists and turns like a great thriller novel.

Added with the sense of foreboding atmosphere and some terrifying moments executed by its tension building techniques. For me, it’s a great horror experience, throwing away the generic jump scare an opting for an unsettling experience.

As the game is relatively short, it goes hand in hand with the Switch’s pick up and play design. There always feels like there is more to uncover and you will want to keep starting afresh to find what else Uncanny Valley has up its sleeve.