27th Jun2018

‘Splatoon 2: Octo Expansion’ DLC Review (Nintendo Switch)

by Rupert Harvey

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Splatoon 2’s single-player campaign was an enjoyable showcase for the series’ unique art style and paint-swimming mechanics, although at times it did feel like an extended tutorial for the multiplayer main draw. Apparently seeking to address this, Nintendo have now produced their Octo Expansion. And expansive it is: this feels like the adventure we solo players always wanted.

The simple plot involves an amnesiac Octoling, nicknamed Agent 8, lost in the tunnels beneath Inkopolis. After an encounter with a talking telephone, Cap’N Cuttlefish decides to help the Octoling to reach the fabled “promised land”. Playing as Agent 8, the player must explore a mysterious metro map, meeting new oddball characters and unlocking train lines by completing a series of challenges.

The challenges number 80 and range from 30-second shooting ranges to sprawling, 15-minute platforming odysseys. Most give you a fixed weapon type to use, although some offer different options, with more Octo Points on offer for beating the challenge with a less suitable tool. The OP currency is used to buy your way into new challenges, so effectively it’s a lives system. Thankfully, Game Over merely throws you back into the game with a small grant of OP.

And you will certainly find yourself in that lowly position, because Octo Expansion is hard. Occasionally it’s cruel, with cheap deaths and crushing odds (the “defend the orb” levels are particularly brutal). Other times, the sheer cleverness of the Escher-like, rotating levels reaches beyond the user controls, which have never been the most precise anyway. If the original campaign was the tutorial, this is the advanced course. You will certainly be a better Splatoon player by the end.

But Nintendo aren’t about barriers, and progress is never hindered indefinitely. Once you’ve failed a number of times, it’s possible to use your points to skip the challenge. Also, the very hardest challenges are not mandatory in order to reach the final run of stages: a fantastically varied and inventive journey through a colossal machine, each room based on an internal organ. It culminates in an epic showdown, which is ridiculously OTT and strangely beautiful, and makes up for the disappointment of the core game’s final boss.

The Octo Expansion is DLC done right. It offers little for multiplayer Splatooners beyond unlockable cosmetics, but for solo players it’s a godsend. It can be very challenging at times, and there are some frustrating moments, but these gripes are swept away by a dayglow tide of inventiveness, humour and pure joy of the sort only Nintendo can produce. I’m glad to report that Splatoon stays fresh!

Splatoon 2: Octo Expansion is out now on Nintendo Switch.

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