Review round-up: Dead Horizon, Party Golf, King Oddball, Yono

Time for some more mini review goodness!

This week:

• Cyberpunk dystopian twin-stickery in Neon Chrome
• Come dangerously close to a Twitter hashtag in Yono And The Celestial Elephants
• Beer pong on your Switch in Super Ping Pong Trick Shot
• A tongue that would make Gene Simmons jealous in King Oddball
• Eight-player foreplay in Party Golf
• A short sharp shock in Dead Horizon

As usual, each review (except for the last, for reasons which will become clear) is accompanied by a First Play video, in which I captured the first 15-30 minutes of each game as I played it for the first time.

This way you can see how I reacted to it at first, and then how the game eventually panned out in the review.

Neon Chrome

Switch, PS4, Xbox One, Vita, Steam, iOS (Switch version reviewed)

What is it? – The umpteenth mean and moody twin-stick shooter on the Switch, this time set in a neon-coloured cyberpunk world.

Is it any good? – Being completely honest, I found it difficult to get into Neon Chrome and that isn’t entirely the fault of the game.

There have already been a number of twin-stick shooters on Switch, and just recently I played and reviewed the excellent Jydge, to which Neon Chrome sadly doesn’t stand up.

That’s not to say it’s a bad game: its neon dystopian environments are interesting if a little lacking in character, and there’s a degree of satisfaction in triggering large explosions by shooting the destructible scenery.

However, the procedurally generated levels are rarely exciting to explore, and the characters and enemies are so nondescript that making your way through its 32 stages is as much a test of your attention span as it is your abilities.

It’s fine. It’s harmless. It just doesn’t do anything remarkable, to the extent that I forgot its name while recording the video above.

Yono And The Celestial Elephants

Plug In Digital / Neckbolt
Switch, Steam (Switch version reviewed)

What is it? – An isometric adventure game in which the hero is an elephant who arrives in a world where the residents are convinced he’s some sort of god.

Is it any good? – From the initial screenshots and trailers I saw of Yono it looked to me like it was essentially going to be a Zelda-inspired adventure starring an elephant instead of Link.

In reality it doesn’t actually play that much like a Zelda game: while Nintendo’s adventures have a healthy mix of action and adventure, Yono is almost entirely focused on puzzle-solving.

Most of your time during this game’s 8-10 hour story will be spent figuring out how to reach the next area, usually involving some sort of block-pushing, switch-flipping or trunk-blowing mechanic.

That may sound like a complaint, but it really isn’t: as long as you’re happy for it to be more of a puzzler than an action game – Yono has a charge attack but it barely gets much use – you’ll still enjoy it.

Also worth a mention is its surprisingly deep dialogue: there are plenty of philosophical conversations in this game, so your old brainbox will get exercise in more ways than one.

Super Ping Pong Trick Shot

Starsign / SIMS

What is it? – A beer pong game, essentially. Fire a ball through a series of obstacles and land it in a glass.

Is it any good? – This is actually the third game in the Ping Pong Trick Shot series, the first two having been previously released on the 3DS eShop.

The concept is as basic as it gets: move an arc to line up your aim, use a power gauge to set the strength then cross your fingers and hope the ball lands in the glass.

It’s extremely simple, and while its 80 levels do try to mix things up a bit by adding fans and sticky blocks to mess up your shot, it isn’t really enough to keep you engaged.

It does try to add a little longevity by giving you optional additional objectives for each stage, but the whole thing is just too repetitive despite this.

It’s also frustrating that not only does it lack Pro Controller support, it doesn’t even let you use the JoyCon Grip: you have to hold a single JoyCon on its side or use pointless motion controls.

For only $4.99 / £4.49 it may keep you busy for a while, but you’re likely to be done with it before all 80 stages are complete.

King Oddball

Switch, PS4, Xbox One, PS3, Vita, Steam, iOS, Android (Switch version reviewed)

What is it? – A mobile-inspired game in which you play as a giant floating head which swings boulders from its tongue. The aim is to fling the boulders to clear each stage of enemies.

Is it any good? – Although Super Ping Pong Trick Shot shows that simple ideas aren’t always effective, that isn’t the case every time.

King Oddball illustrates this well: originally a mobile game, its basic one-button gameplay can actually get quite compelling.

At its core it’s essentially an Angry Birds clone, but one with a more engaging skill-based control method and far more satisfying gameplay.

Bouncing your boulder off enemy tanks and the like is surprisingly good fun, especially when you hit off a few in a row and gain a bonus shot as a result.

I didn’t expect I’d think much of this one, but it kept me entertained for a while: for just £3.99 it’s a fun low-fi game that lets you just switch your brain off a bit between Mario Odyssey moon hunts.

Party Golf

Giant Margarita
Switch, PS4, Steam (Switch version reviewed)

What is it? – A side-on golf game for up to eight players, where the aim – at least, at first – is to get your ball in the hole before anyone else.

Is it any good? – As you can see in my First Play video below, Party Golf really took me by surprise.

Its controls are simple – that seems to be the theme of this week’s review roundup – but that means most people can get to grips with it fairly quickly, making for a relatively level playing field.

This is important, because while Party Golf is still fun in single-player against AI opponents, it really comes into its own when you have a bunch of people playing.

The chaos that emerges during just the standard Quick Play mode is funny enough, but when you consider there are over 100 preset modes – ranging from simple stuff like replacing the ball with more awkward shapes, to complex things like minefields and punishing players for finishing closest to the hole – it’s crazy to think how much potential havoc is in here.

If you really want to get deep there’s a Custom mode where you can tweak a ridiculously large list of options and rules, but to be honest this is so detailed it bewilders me, so I’m happy sticking with the other modes.

If you regularly play local multiplayer with three or more players, Party Golf is well worth a look. Not since Towerfall have I enjoyed a four-player game so much.

A warning, though: play it on your TV. The balls are far too small for tabletop mode.

Dead Horizon

14 Hours Productions

What is it? – A free, very brief Steam game about a gunslinger searching for redemption.

Is it any good? – For the final game in this roundup I want to share something a little different with you.

As someone with a 9-to-5 job who also has to juggle this website, a book I’m currently writing and the small matter of spending time with my wife, there’s only so much free time I have.

Epic games with 30-hour storylines unnerve me, because I know the chances of me getting to finish them are rare (unless I’m reviewing them and have to specifically put aside time for them).

That’s why something like Dead Horizon is a lovely little treat, with emphasis on the word ‘little’. This is a game that every single person who plays it can definitely finish, and that’s because it only takes around 10 minutes.

The thing is, packed into those 10 minutes is a cracking short story, with great music, a lovely art style and some very subtle things in there that, if you notice them, are pretty cool.

Even better, if you want more to ponder, there’s a great ‘lore book’ in the extras menu which lets you read the protagonist’s brilliant-written diary.

As a completely free game, I adored the half-hour I spent playing Dead Horizon and reading its lore book. I’d urge you to do the same: it’s the perfect proof that not all stories have to be long to feel epic.

In order that I could write the above reviews, I received copies of each game from their respective PRs. The content of my reviews and the opinions therein were in no way positively influenced by this.

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