Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Garage (NSW) Review

tinyBuild's Garage launches tomorrow on the Nintendo Switch eShop. SuperPhillip Central provides you with a review ahead of its release date. Let's venture into the world of Garage together, brave souls!

Not quite the place you'd want to park your car inside of.

Indie game publisher and developer tinyBuild has been a huge supporter of the Nintendo Switch, and it has certainly been nice to see, as many smaller publisher and developers have found adequate (if not better) success on the Nintendo Switch eShop with their games. tinyBuild's latest comes in the form of a top-down, twin-stick shooter called Garage. While it has similarities to much more well-known games like Hotline Miami, when it concerns the quality of Garage, the two are in different levels. That isn't a compliment to Garage.

Garage has you play the role of a janitor who dabbles in drug dealing as a side hustle. Left to die inside a locked car trunk, the janitor, named Butch, smashes open the trunk and finds himself in a dreary, desolate, and quite dilapidated parking garage filled with burning cars, fire, and the smell of death in the air. Through exploring through the game's linear levels--acquiring keys to unlock doors, defeating all shapes and sizes of ferocious enemies, and keeping an eye on his health and ammo--Butch discovers that the dead have come back to life.

"Thanks for leaving me in this trunk, guys. Could use a nightlight in here, though."
Speaking of lives, Butch will definitely have to fight for his own. Garage is a hard game. Even on the easiest difficulty I found myself dying a multitude of times. Some of it was brought on by my own carelessness, while others I fault the game for. Unfortunately, the latter happens in Garage a lot more than the former.

For one, aiming with the right analog stick in Garage is a bit imprecise. Many bullets that I'd fire from one of the handful of guns I had available to me in the game (you slowly build up an arsenal as you progress forward through Garage) wouldn't hit their intended target. Not only did this waste precious ammo, but it, of course, left me open for enemies to violate Butch's personal space in a severe, and quite deadly, way. Thus, the weapons, especially the guns, just don't feel great to use, aside from a select few.

Let's just say aiming in Garage isn't exactly optimal.
Furthermore, when surrounded by a group of enemies, you're pretty much a goner, as there are no invincibility frames for Butch to really speak of. This results on multiple occasions in getting caught between foes, helplessly trying to fight back and clear a path. This is for naught as you end up dying rather quickly.

An interesting gameplay concept introduced in Garage that I don't recall being in many other top-down shooters is that enemies will only be visible to the player if they're directly within Butch's line of sight. Therefore, if there are enemies in the room adjacent to Butch and the door's shut, the player won't be able to see them. This results in some good scare moments where enemies can ambush you, but it also limits the player's ability to plot out adequate strategies. Instead, one is just left to do a lot of trial and error--memorizing enemy locations one by one and reacting accordingly.

This boss spews out rabid rats and hazardous vomit to attack Butch.
Not exactly parking attendant of the year material here, folks.
Garage contains 13 chapters, some with multiple parts, that essentially are one area of the game per chapter or part. Basically, every time you see a loading screen after entering an exit, a new chapter or part of a chapter is being loaded. While on the subject of loading screens, Garage doesn't really impress when it comes to these, either. Many of the loading screens can last upwards of a half-minute, which doesn't really place the best impression on a given player. Thankfully, such loading times don't occur between deaths, which again, players will see plenty of within the game.

Chapter 10 is supposedly a chase sequence, but as the devs say, the code was irreparably damaged. Instead, there is NO Chapter 10 to speak of. It's a shame, as I love a good, old chase sequence. 
Aside from playing through on different difficulties, there isn't much else to do once Garage has been initially completed, a process which took me around five hours on the easiest difficulty. One can opt to explore chapters for hidden notes containing passwords to various hatches located in the game, but this is merely for background story purposes. Nothing here that will motivate most players aside from the ones heavily engaged with the game.

Unfortunately, for all of these aforementioned reasons, it's a bit of a challenge to recommend Garage. The game feels under-cooked, the loading times are too long, the visibility mechanic leaves something to be desired, the difficulty is sometimes unfair, the aiming doesn't have the most precision, and there's little to do after the game has been beaten the first go-round. There are some positives to garage, however, such as some cool boss battles, nice gameplay segments that break up the shooting (such as a fun motorcycle section, or calm, soothing raft ride), and adequate pacing. That said, Garage is a game that is better left avoided, unless you really need a top-down shooter on the Switch.

[SPC Says: D+]

Review code provided by tinyBuild.

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