Away: Journey to the unexpected – Switch review

The maybe evil Labiworks company is polluting the environment with their reckless excavations and we don’t like it, so it’s up to IFCATS ( or so I called my own character) to make things right hanging around with a stick to bash enemiesbwith and some consumale fireworks to be used as ranged weapon. You start in your bedroom and walk out the house trough a hole in the garage walls to explore the nearby lands.

Now this is a nice touch

Levels are composed by an open outdoor hub where you look for levers to open the gate for a dungeon. You also collect coins that can be used to purchase items to help you along the way. Once the short dungeon featuring a simple series of rooms, enemies, chests and maybe an hazard is completed, a branching path takes to the next level with a similar scructure.

ok I guess I’ll poo in the shower then

A core gameplay elements is recruiting new friends along the journey, winning them through succesful dialogs. Other than each coming with their unique attack and energy bar that is depleted with use, they are all visually impared in some way, like your granpa wearing broken specs, and this work both as adding flavour and as encouragement to switch back to the main protagonist to continue the exploration.

the world seen through granpa’s eyes

While technically it is possible to beat the game with your main character, recruting friends is a lifesaver, as using them prevent you from losing your precious hearts.

If you die, you start over from your bedroom. But worry not! With the experience gained you will unlock new feats such as more hearts, shortcuts and so on. There is also a random element in generating the enemies and items layout that helps keeping things freshy when inevitably you’ll find yourself exploring the areas again. It plays like a roguelite, but somehow this progress through failure mechanic seems pasted onto the game via overlay to make it last longer rather than fully implemented.

All the gameplay elements (exploration, collection, combat) contribute to make the advenure engaging, but individually they lack the depth to stand out from mediocrity.

What keeps the game together is the joyful atmosphere, the wacky and bouncy characters with hilarious dialogs that tell a funny story that it’s worth listening to, and all the tiny details like the animated intro that make it stand out. I also have a personal taste for bidimension sprites in 3d enviroments, and Away blend them wonderfully. The whole game conveys the love of creators for anime and comics. Really it is way more fun playing it than reading me describing it, and I want to spoil as little as possible.

Away is very short and I completed it in 3 hours or something. The gameplay elements that would have suffered if the game dragged itself for too long, work well on this distance. I think that Away: Journey to the unexpected should be seen as an interactice novel where the narrarite is sustained through proper gameplay instead of laser game choices, and that’s praiseworthy. I enjoyed this short adventure and it made me smile

IFSCORE 7/10

+ cute and charmful characters to treasure

+ it’s funny and playful

-gameplay is very basic

-short and unlikely to be replayed

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