Pinch, punch 4th of the month – here’s a Naught Switch review. You know you want it.
Well, I’ll tell you one thing now; this Naught game ain’t no zero. “Ha”. The first thing I have to comment on is how much it looks like Toby: The Secret Mine fused with LocoRoco, which is an interesting comparison as aesthetically, they’re the polar opposite.
The big question though is where do babies come from? The second: is Naught any good?
Naught Switch Review
It was no surprise to find that this game was released on mobile, but playing this version on the Switch makes it feel like it was designed exclusively for it. In Handheld mode, that is.
You play the title character, Naught, a feline creature that looks like an extra from Limbo or the title mentioned earlier, Toby: The Secret Mine. That’s a good comparison, as anything prominent is cast as a silhouette. Yet, unlike the latter title, it’s much easier to make out the objects and dangers ahead not just through the splashes of colour, but the shadows are in the right places, so to speak.
That said, Naught, from WildSphere, is a tough game. Not die-hard, ‘I’m gonna need to take some Pro Plus just to get onto the second level’, but enough to make you want to punch an elk. And I love animals.
The story itself is quite subtle and rather bleak in places, but we don’t have time for that – we need to ensure we capture the light and guide Naught to safety through some rather deadly labyrinths and environmental hazards that will test the patience of a saint.
Get A Hold Of Yourself
Controlling our feline friend is a simple technique, but bloody hard to master. At your disposal is the rotation of the screen. Holding either L or R, the screen will rotate, and as gravity is re-introduced, Naught will drop to the platforms below or slide further into the abyss.
Aside from the screen rotations, he can also jump, but as you can’t directly control him, you’ll need to slide the screen one way and time your jump so he falls in style. There’s also a swifter way to flip the screen at a 180º by pressing the X button, and he’ll drop down to whatever is beneath him.
Through each level are hidden orbs of light, or seeds. They’re very nuanced; often hidden in the shadows, but clear enough to collect as are the diamonds in the game that help unlock new levels.
While a black and white aesthetic, two colours stand out in the game, and that’s blue and orange. Blue represents something safe that you should collect, where the orange means danger.
This can stem from environmental hazards such as lasers or lava, or even enemies that occupy the underground abyss you attempt to escape. Though it’s clear what will kill you, it’s not until after dying that you realise the threat was there.
Danger In The Shadows
You can’t see a level in advance, nor are there any maps of each stage. Granted, it’s a linear process, but it’s quite easy to get lost as when you die, the screen feels like it has been flipped once more and you often find you’re heading the wrong way without knowing.
Well, that’s what I did.
There aren’t any pointers or a dominant font saying ‘Head back, you’re going the wrong way!’ so you find out the hard way, through death. Or, as the game specifies; how often you vanish.
Naught doesn’t feature any health gauges, lives or continues. Instead, when you vanish, you’ll return to a checkpoint and repeat once more. Sometimes these checkpoints won’t spawn you too far away, other times you might find yourself swearing at the dog – it’s a little erratic on where you end up.
Add to the above scenario of not knowing if you’re heading the right way and Naught can be a very frustrating game. It was too common to head out from a checkpoint, rotate the screen and guide him through a fall surrounded by lava either side and seeds to collect.
Get through the dangers and just as you land to ‘safety’, razor-sharp tentacles come out from the ground and send you back to the same spot once more. I want to say that I played the game in small doses, for sanity reasons, but looking at my watch, I’d spend hours on just a few levels.
There’s around 40 in total, but based on the difficulty levels, this could keep you busy for weeks – that is, if you can tolerate the challenge for that long. Again, it’s not the hardest title, but it’s no My Name Is Mayo.
Gyrate To This
I’ve never been a fan of handhelds, but when in dire straits and not having a console when living abroad, I ended up buying a PSP. One of the first games I purchased was LocoRoco and loved it.
It was a bright and colourful game with chirpy, but annoying music and a relatively feel-good game. Naught isn’t the same in that it puts a spring in your step, but the controls handle significantly better, the visuals are stunning with such a bleak palette, and the music is excellent.
For me, it was like listening to a cyberpunk-themed title with industrial beats that switched from upbeat and inspirational, to a more chill vibe. The soundtrack easily matched the rather excellent graphics.
So it boils down to the gameplay. Not exactly a new concept, the controls in the game do feel relatively tight, but the hazards are so frequent that you need to get everything perfect, and for a lot of people, this may put them off.
If the shoulder buttons aren’t your thing, you can switch to the joystick to move the screen, and I found I was alternating between the two for finetuning. It was surprising that there’s no gyroscope option for the game. I played mostly in handheld, and while the game is beautiful to look at on the telly, portable was my preference – Naught controls better this way.