Note: A review copy of this game was provided to Daily Gaming Report.
If there’s one game genre that the Switch is inundated with at the moment, it’s Metroidvania games. Many of the platform’s most popular titles are Metroidvanias, so if you’re making one for the Switch, you need to stand out and offer something unique for the genre. With this in mind, I’m most pleased to say that SuperEpic, Undercoders’ newest outing, definitely offers that something.
In SuperEpic you play as both the raccoon TanTan and his trusty steed Ola, the llama. The pair live in a dystopian future where the only games left are heavily monetised mobile games. Because of this, you’re tasked with infiltrating the headquarters of RegnantCorp, the leading creator of said grubby games. Along the way, you’ll be fighting various members of RegnantCorp staff from executive grunts all the way up to the company CEO. The game’s identity lies heavily in the story and the humorous tone that it creates, and luckily it’s done fairly well. Occasionally the game’s message can feel a little heavy-handed, but I found myself genuinely laughing at a lot of the game’s dialogue and visual gags. The characters are quirky and full of personality, and it’s always a joy whenever you’re given the opportunity to interact with the varied cast of characters.
SuperEpic’s no slouch in the gameplay department either. The game plays out like a standard Metroidvania – you’re plonked in an open-ended 2D map and are tasked with working your way through the areas, gaining new abilities and items which allow you to access new areas. If you’re familiar with other titles in the genre, this all won’t be much new to you. Overall, the game creates a good sense of progression by offering 8 unique areas, each with their own visual style. A few of these stages cutely pay homage to classics in the Metroidvania genre – one area sees you in a gothic, gloomy setting fighting ghosts, zombies and bats in search of a vampire. Sound familiar? If there were anything to criticise about the levels, it’d be that a few of the rooms feel a little samey within their respective areas, but this is pretty standard for the genre and somewhat of a nitpick. Backtracking never feels like a chore – more of a welcome break from working through another area.
You have three attacks: an uppercut, and heavy and light attacks which are all individually upgradeable, so you can fine-tune your loadout to fit your playstyle. Interestingly, SuperEpic also lets you play with a few different special attacks which use a resource called Rage. These range from throwable projectiles to A.O.E attacks that can help get you out of a pinch – this is useful since you’ll find yourself in a pinch quite a lot in SuperEpic. While combat can generally be avoided if you’re only backtracking, some rooms are filled with enemies to the point where skipping through the room is no longer a viable option. SuperEpic can be super punishing if you don’t play your cards right: knockback from enemies means that you might end up as the ball in an impromptu enemy tennis match if you go in too gung-ho. From a technical standpoint, the game is very solidly built – aside from very occasional frame drops and one instance where I was stuck in the game’s geometry, I ran into no major technical hiccups.
Happily, the game’s boss fights are enjoyable and very varied – this is helped to a great degree by the game’s unique character designs. Playing the game, however, I did find that the boss fights could have done with being a bit more punishing. I made a lot of mistakes in each fight but managed to scrape through each one (including the final boss) on my first try, so a bit of added difficulty there might not have gone amiss. My favourite boss fight by far is the one with the game designer. I won’t spoil it here, but it subverts the idea of a boss battle in such a unique way that I had a huge smile on my face the entire time.
Perhaps the most unique aspect of the gameplay is the minigames. Certain areas will be locked off behind a code, and to get the code you’ll need to scan a QR code on your phone. This code will take you to a minigame playable in your phone’s browser – the games are all satirised versions of popular mobile games, and completing the minigame will give you the code you need to get through. This is a really neat addition – the games are solidly built and very funny, and the novelty of playing a game on your phone never gets old since it’s only a rare occurrence. Similarly, you’re also given the opportunity to invest in PigCoin – a clicker-game style venture that will help to earn you money in the background as you play.
In terms of content, SuperEpic’s main story took me about 9 hours to complete – pretty standard fare for a game of this genre. There are a good few different collectables and secrets to find, and the game makes a point of rewarding exploration and backtracking with gear and currency, and I imagine this contributed considerably to my final playtime. If you’re done with the story mode, the game also offers a more difficult “Rogue-Lite” mode which generates the map randomly and tasks you with finding the necessary powerups and suchlike.
Moreover, the game’s presentation is superb. Gorgeous and bright 16-bit style graphics are complimented by an energetic and well-produced soundtrack. The UI and overall presentation really help to solidify the game’s strong sense of personality to help create a more cohesive experience.
Overall, SuperEpic might not be turning the Metroidvania genre on its head, but it’s got buckets of personality and tight, fun gameplay. Undercoders’ latest project is an extremely funny and enjoyable sidescrolling package that’s definitely worth your time.
Formats: Switch (Reviewed), PS4, Xbox One
Publisher: Numskull Games
Release Date: 12th December 2019
Age Rating: Unknown
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