05th Sep2018

‘The Low Road’ Review (Nintendo Switch)

by Britt Roberts

low-road-screen

The Low Road starts out promisingly with an initial puzzle that called to mind information-based decision-making puzzles as featured in games like Papers Please but this all too quickly gives way to bland puzzles that move ever further away from the very strong opening.

Set in the awesomely funky (I literally type this whilst wearing purple corduroy paisley flares) and very brown 1970s, The Low Road casts you in the role of newly signed up spy Noomi on her first day of the job. You control her as she spends the first section of the game desperately trying to get out away from her desk and into doing field work, something that she has always dreamed of.

As the player of the game and in direct contrast to my avatar’s wishes, however, I spent my time with The Low Road wishing that Noomi had never left her desk as that was easily where the most interesting puzzle happened. As part of the tutorial, your boss, Turn, tasks you with calling up someone who has been indoctrinated into a shady corporation / cult called REV Inc. You are given some sheets of paper containing various bits of information from which you make dialogue choices in order to obtain as much information from the person as possible before they catch on to the fact that you are not who you say you are. I loved this section of the game and when the rest played out as inventory-based puzzles or ‘distract person to do x’, I could feel myself becoming less and less engaged, unfortunately.

The presentation of the game is top notch with the stylised 2D characters and backgrounds being visually appealing and the music score striking me as one of the best parts of the game, ranging from 70s funk to minimalist electronica, capturing the moods of each scene. The voice acting is well-presented but the dialogue is sometimes more irritating than amusing with each most characters either speaking with sarcasm or disdain and dialogue choices often being quite similar. I also felt that the slow movement of main character (especially when traversing stairs) was needless and felt a way of artificially extending the length of the game, as it took an age to move through the chapters, compact as they are.

The Low Road has some moments of genius, such as in that first puzzle and its visual and audio presentation (although the inventory screen and general controls could use refinement, although this is a minor niggle) but feels padded with puzzles such as a section where you need to blowtorch some iron bars from a grate or complete a pipe-mania style section. I couldn’t help but feel if these were taken out and more time was spent on varying the dialogue and information-based decision-making then I would have enjoyed my time with the game more. It’s not a bad game by any means but the first section of the game was the part that I most enjoyed and afterwards, it never really hooked me in again as I made my way through it even though there were some amusing moments.

I would love to see a sequel as there’s so much promise here but this game seems to focus on the more generic tropes of the point and click genre as opposed taking to a more nuanced approach…

The Low Road is available in the Nintendo eShop now.

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