Review: Spaceland (Switch)

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Dang dry ice everywhere, hiding those aliens! Grrrr…

Spaceland SwitchTortuga Team and Ellada Games’ great little turn-based strategy game Spaceland ($14.99) wants you to play it a few times, so I’ve been very good in my obliging it. The game’s quick 15 minute or less levels (you can take longer if you need to) seem as if they’d be one and done affairs unless you’re trying to unlock all it has to offer. It’s at that point when you see they’re not. Yes, you’ll soon discover that your far too under-powered to do so in some cases and you’ll need to pop back in at some point with better gear and help when you get a few more members on your team (and when the game allows them into certain maps).

I haven’t yet played the fantasy/RPG themed turn-based strategy Braveland Trilogy games from the developer, so I can’t make comparisons other than to say those games were 2D and sprite-based where Spaceland goes for a clean polygon look and slicker animated style. There are also puzzle-like elements here where the game requires completing levels in as few turns as possible, something that takes a few attempts and yes, often missing bonuses in favor of fast and flawless runs. Oh, you’ll be back if you like what’s here, trust me.

The pace is pretty laid back but tense initially, but things get more tense and complex as the game goes on. With aliens and other enemies popping up from floors and hidden in areas by that pesky fog of war that (as far as I can see, can’t be turned off), the game does a really fine job of keeping you on your toes in some missions. Granted, what you don’t see is supposed to kill you here and treading cautiously (but quickly in some areas) will soon become second nature to those new to this.  While the game’s story is pretty pedestrian, some of the dialog brought some amusement in the way a few personalities clashed as the story progressed.

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That’s a big pot of sauce (“GRAVY!”, yells the peanut gallery) and someone forget to bring the pasta. It figures…

Spaceland looks great, and while not fully voiced, there are some good tunes to make up gor this. Weapons do nicely at sounding powerful and wiping out assorted baddies (when you hit them). The game seems to use a bit of calculating when applying damage, so while you’ll hit close up and most mid-range shots, sometimes longer ranges will be hit or miss, literally (or is if figuratively? I forget). Some enemies can only be successfully hit from behind or have other restrictions, so a little outside the box thought and planning are necessary. Mission briefs will show you the ropes, as well as retries should you fail (although the game rewards less if anyone dies in a mission, and if your whole team buys it, yep, it’s “Game Over, man, Game Over!” and a trip to restart city).

Some will groan about the lack of co-op play or online features but this one really doesn’t need them. Sometimes, it’s fine to play a game by yourself and Tortuga Team has one that’s a fit in all the right places for tactics fans into turn-based strategy. This a good, solid game that doesn’t wear out its welcome at all and makes for a decent handheld experience as well as one you can play at home if you’re stuck inside on a bad weather day. Based on this, It looks as if I’m going to be going to Braveland after this or in the not too distant future if this game is any indication of quality. Recommended.

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“Whaddaya mean you ran out of grenades?”

Score: B (80%)

-GW

-Review code provided by the publisher

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