11th May2020

‘Factotum 90’ Review (Nintendo Switch)

by Phil Wheat

From indie studio TACS Games and first appearing on the Wii U of all places, Factotum 90 sees you trapped in deep space after something’s collided with your ship. Main power is offline and you’re trapped. It’s lucky you have access to a terminal that allows you to take control of two walker robots as you tackle 30 decks that include engineering, laboratories and high security sectors. The robots cannot be operated at the same time so you have to alternate between them, figuring out how to use them as a team to make it through each deck. Switch between the walkers at any time and make use of switches, lifts, bombs, energy beams and teleports as you aim to restore power, reactivate the life support and solve the mystery of the collision and save the day.

That is – at its core – something of a simple set-up, with a story penned as a reason why your doing what you’re doing, but its also one that adds a decent amount of depth to what is essentially a traditonal isometric puzzle game… A puzzle game that, for me, harkens back to the golden age of my puzzle gaming – the 8-bit era and titles like my favourite of that time, Head Over Heels. A game with which Factotum 90 actually shares a LOT in common.

You see both games see you control two characters instead of just one, however in this case both bots, here called “walkers”, have the same abilities but its up to the player how to use them to proceed through each level – triggering platforms, removing blockades, passing over timed obstacles, moving through portals etc. all in a split screen fashion, allowing you to jump back and forth between each walker. Though it’s not actually as easy as it sounds as the difficulty level of Factotum 90 ramps up considerably the further into the game you get, each puzzle becoming increasingly more complex as you try and figure out how to get BOTH walkers through the level (because just one would be too easy… right?)

Visually Factotum 90 has a great aesthetic. The split screen footage looks like it’s coming via poor video feeds, complete with the occasion static, really making it feel like you’re on that ship controlling those walkers – it just adds a little extra atompshere and depth to the game – helping to hook you in as much as the hardcore puzzling does. And believe me you will be hooked. I certainly was, in much the same way as I was when I played Head Over Heels back in the days of the Commodore 64.

With only thirty levels (well floors) in Factotum 90 there’s only a couple of hours game play here for puzzle game fans – and once you get into the swing of controlling the walkers, realising how to move them best and what their strengths and weakenesses are, the later – even though difficult levels – will feel like they fly by. Which is unfortunate, especially considering how much I enjoyed my time with the game… In the end I couldn’t help but feel Factotum 90 was over before it ever really begun.

Factotum 90 is available on the Nintendo eShop now.


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