Switch or Die Trying – Xbox One Review
Developed by the small six-person team at Threye Interactive, indie puzzle platformer Switch – Or Die Trying does exactly what it says on the tin: switch between a small and large character in order to navigate brutally difficult levels where you will die, a lot. Whilst the level of unforgiving challenge presented here will undoubtedly be of interest to some, the clunky and unintuitive controls prohibit this quirky indie title from being anything other than tedious.
At first glance, the level design is adorably charming. Each of the five worlds have their own distinctive art and sound design from a Stranger Things-esque forest to a dystopian future, but as you progress through the stages it becomes clear there isn’t much variation within each world as backgrounds and music are recycled. Likewise, the narrative, too, is half-baked and all but abandoned after the short opening cutscene in which the nameless protagonist’s conscious argues with itself about whether or not they should leave the safety of their bed to apologise to their friends for being arrogant – seriously, that’s the premise.
Of course it’s not the narrative content or artwork that will drive players towards this game, but its unyielding difficulty. To successfully clear a level, players will need to perfect precise timing, jumping, and shooting where a split-second can mean the difference from reaching the finish line or restarting the level. Unapologetic difficulty is always a welcome addition to platformers as they encourage players to learn the game’s mechanics and awards them with a feeling of genuine accomplishment after finally clearly overcoming that obstacle that’s been giving you trouble. This isn’t the case here.
The problem with this game, however, is the controls are so clunky and unintuitive that even playing through some of the easier levels feel like a wrestling match between you and the controller. Far too often your armless avatar will get stuck sliding down a wall or run straight off a ledge without registering the jump command forcing you to try again and hope for the best next time. Unlike other difficult platformers such as Super Meat Boy, Ori and the Blind Forrest, or Braid, there is simply no fluidity to the gameplay which makes for an unsatisfying, and often frustrating, time.
Likewise, there is no real tutorial given to help players deal with new obstacles and mechanics. After a short opening that introduces us to the most basic mechanics (i.e. jumping), we’re thrown straight in to the deep end. Although it’s invigorating to discover things for ourselves without games holding our hands at each step, it would have been a welcome addition if we were given a chance to learn how to deal with new obstacles first before having everything thrown at us at once, especially when each new world demands mastery of different tactics. The absence of an option to restart levels from the beginning is also a strange choice here given how accidentally shooting the wrong block could make a level unbeatable. Thankfully, though, progression only requires players to complete ten of the fifteen stages in each world, but the challenge is there for those willing to put themselves through the torture.
The tough challenge might be appealing to those looking for it and who are patient enough, but with its poor controls and uninspired design, Switch – Or Die Trying is one platformer you’re best jumping over.
Switch – Or Die Trying is available to purchase and download from the Microsoft Store for £5.59.