26th Oct2017

Digital Shorts: ‘Putty Pals’ Review (Nintendo Switch)

by Matthew Smail

In DIGITAL SHORTS we review some of the latest video games that are only available digitally (at least in the UK), in a short-form review format. In this edition we take a look at Putty Pals, a new indie title from developer Harmonious Games, available now on the Nintendo Switch.

putty-pals-screen

Putty Pals is an almost perfect showcase for demonstrating the casual, cooperative capabilities of the Nintendo Switch, whilst also offering a challenging (if not always for the right reason) single player experience. It’s a game about two balls of putty (one green and one blue) who are, unsurprisingly, pals. Their expressive faces are immediately likable, as is the way that their tiny hands lock together when they merge. That’s just about all the story you get in Putty Pals, but that’s not a problem because you’ll just want to see these little guys through to the end no matter what.

Putty Pals is a game about traversing increasingly complex, scrolling two dimensional levels that are filled with platforms, pitfalls, spike traps and other hazards. The twist is that whether you play solo or with a friend, both of the Putty Pals must reach the end. The only way to achieve this is by working together to traverse the levels, using the Pals ability to link together and swing each other, or transform into a trampoline that can be bounced on. There are some long, tough to make jumps, a fair few complex sequences involving colour matching of the Pals with the environment and quite a few other complexities that add to the mix.

In single player mode, the game is played using the left stick and shoulder buttons to control one putty and the same arrangement on the opposite side for the other. It’s a tough system to get used to, especially as the game gets harder and harder. Thankfully there are relatively few dexterity or speed based sections to work through, which is a mercy. Even so, when played solo, there is a lesser sense of achievement and a greater possibility for frustration during some of the toughest areas. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the game feels as if it was made for local cooperative play, which is exactly where it excels.

With only movement and a few simple actions to control, Putty Pals is perfectly playable with a sideways Joy-Con on the move, or with any other control scheme when docked. There is a decent weight to the controls and the levels are varied, fairly well scattered with checkpoints and overall, very good fun to play, which makes Putty Pals feel like a well polished product. There are five or six distinct worlds split into about thirty levels to work through, each of which has its own look and varied set of challenges. Each level has a few collectibles (apparently three although sometimes I swear I searched every corner and only got one or two) which adds to the longevity and when played with friends, Putty Pals is a hard game to grow bored of.

Considering that it has an incredibly low price point for what looks and plays like a very well polished game, picking up Putty Pals feels like something of a no brainer. It’s a superb cooperative puzzler that really makes use of the local multiplayer capabilities of the Switch, whether docked or not and it makes a simple to understand concept into a unique and engaging experience. Aside from the limited solo play, I have little or nothing bad to say about Putty Pals, so with that in mind I recommend it fairly highly.

***½  3.5/5

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