26th Feb2019

‘Ghoulboy’ Review (Nintendo Switch)

by Britt Roberts

ghoulboy-title

Released on Steam in 2017 and now ported to Nintendo Switch, Ghoulboy is a straightforward action-platformer that captures the retro pixel aesthetic well but is a bit too rough around the edges to be an essential purchase although lovers of old-school straightforward platform games will find something to enjoy, just don’t expect the mould to crack.

I misled myself when watching the trailer for Ghoulboy, as it appeared to be a Metroidvania kind of game, but upon actually playing it, it quickly becomes apparent that is a left to right platform game straight from the 90s. Much like the recent The MessengerGhoulboy ha the visual appearance of a game from that era but runs far more smoothly that anything back then feasibly could, which is absolutely fine. The story has you rescuing your captured adventurer father from an evil sort who is slowly taking over the land, it’s a bare bones story which is fine as the main focus isn’t narrative, it’s gameplay and although functional, the game feels a bit too generic to really spark.

There are a few main melee weapons in the game and several thrown weapons, the most interesting of which is the spear, which you can use as a platform to reach higher places. This gives the illusion of exploration as there are hidden sections only reachable through spear-jumping but as the reward for finding these is money and because the coins and items are so plentiful; whenever you reach a place to spend them you always have more than you need which rends this aspect slightly redundant. Whilst the retro music and graphical style are great and the game scrolls smoothly, the enemy placement and some of the actual platforming itself feels a bit cheap, meaning that the majority of lives are lost through leaps of faith and the like. When you die, you can continue from the start of the level so there’s no real loss of progress but after a few stages, the standard gameplay doesn’t really evolve and I found my interest waning.

English isn’t the developers’ first language and so some of the in-game text reads little rough but that isn’t really an issue due to the narrative being so stark anyway. The straightforwardness of the game may appeal to some but aside from boss fights at the end of each act (the acts are split into four separate levels each) the game play doesn’t really evolve. I’d probably suggest playing the game in portable mode on journeys or in a ‘dip in and out’ sort of way as opposed to sessioning one’s way through the whole shebang. If you are a fan of action platformers, Ghoulboy may hold some joy for you but I can imagine that it would get lost in the shuffle for a lot of players.

Ghoulboy is available on the Nintendo eShop now.

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