24th Apr2020

‘Mekorama’ Review (Nintendo Switch)

by Phil Wheat

A 3D isometric puzzle game, Mekorama sees players guide the adorable robot “B” to safety after he crash lands on a strange cubic planet. Think something akin to Monument Valley – only less relaxing, more frustrating and oftentimes more complex – and you’ll get the idea of what Mekorama is all about. Featuring the same mechanics: exploring each level, rotating it in 3D to see all sides, looking for a way through to the goal; making use of lifts and slide platforms to get around while looking out for dangers.

And there’s a good reason Mekorama feels very much like the aforementioned Monument Valley, because this particular Switch game is a conversion from a mobile game! However, unlike a lot of mobile ports, there is some added value here – as the developers have added 50 new levels bringing the total to 100; and thankfully those 100 levels are packed with a variety of different challenges, continuously throwing up new surprises and new ways to solve a level, so that you’ll never know what to expect.

On top of that there’s the physics engine – that goddamn physics engine – which, whilst it ensures everything moves realistically, such as balls, platforms and even B as he stumbles around the level… It makes B stumble around the level! Arghhhh! The amount of times the physics of B make you slip off a ledge, or step too far forward into the way of a passing object. THAT’S where the big difference between Monument Valley and Mekorama lies. This game is just so damn frustrating at times! There were literally times I would be 3/4 of a way through a level for the physics to screw me over and knock me off a platform, which means starting over again – and some of these levels are definitely NOT simple. Not in the slightest.

And that lack of simplicity is not helped by the control system, which can – at times – hinder your progression through the game as much as being stuck how to even complete a level. Let’s be honest, Mekorama is NOT made to be played in dock mode. The controls in that mode are truly atrocious and I defy anyone to have a good time playing the game that way. Playing in docked mode does nothing to improve the game in the slightest, in fact it makes it worse. Mekorama is a touch-screen game through and through – after all it was made for the mobile experience, where touch is king. But on the Switch I found the touch controls, in some instances, a little too sensitive – especially when rotating cogs, wheels etc (just check out the screen shot below for an example). So much so that I found myself repeating the same actions over and over again, just to get the outcome I wanted. More frustration!

It’s not all bad though. Mekorama does look cute and the game has the kind of charm and appeal you’d find in a first-party Nintendo game like Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker – bold, bright and colourful, they are definitely kid-friendly. Though to be fair I still think this game will be too complicated for the age of children the graphics will appeal to. Hey, at least Mekorama has the same pick-up-and-play appeal on the Nintendo Switch as it does on mobile. Though if you’re anything like me, you’ll put this down more than you’ll pick it up!

Mekorama is available on the Nintendo eShop now.

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