Time to take a closer look at two recent releases for the Nintendo Switch. One is a unique take on the adventure game genre that was previously released on the PC and PS4, the other a brand new take on football. Here’s our look at Heaven’s Vault from Inkle and Football Cup 2021 by Inlogic Sports and 7Levels.
Heaven’s Vault heads to the Nintendo Switch
Not exactly brand new because it came out on the PC almost two years ago, developer/publisher Inkle’s adventure/puzzle game hybrid Heaven’s Vault is now available for the Nintendo Switch. It plays out differently than your average adventure game, so for that reason alone it’s worth a look – and there certainly aren’t a lot of games like this out there on the Switch.
And while the non-linear nature of the story is one of those unique elements, the setting is what will stand out right from the beginning. Heaven’s Vault is all about mystery and discovery, and its unique blend of history, sci-fi and cultural elements come together in the moons of what is called the “Nebula”. In what was formerly a vibrant empire, you’re Aliya, a historian looking into what happened here through a search for a colleague of yours that went missing. While doing so, you’ll uncover more and more about the history of this place, its architecture and a lost language you’ll gradually uncover.
You and your robot buddy Six regularly engage with each other through conversations – with dialogue options that can actually help change the course of the story. In that sense, Heaven’s Vault reminds me of some of Dontnod’s work. The gameplay isn’t as narrative-driven as something like Life is Strange is though, as Heaven’s Vault features plenty of puzzles for you to solve. A lot of the puzzling is language-based here, as you decipher an alien alphabet in search for answers. Part of it is guesswork, at least at first, but you’ll gradually start to see patterns, and you can gather clues from the environment as well. As you slowly connect the dots and get an idea of what a symbol might mean, the feeling of discovery when you realize you’re correct is immensely satisfying.
What also helps is that the entire game looks just as unique as it plays, with a beautiful hand drawn-like appearance that brings this alien world full of lost symbols and meanings to life. Traveling aboard a boat between game environments also is a dreamlike experience in the visual sense, but it grows a bit repetitive after a while, with the potential of hurting the game’s pacing and taking you out of your adventuring/discovering flow. It’s certainly not enough to ruin the experience though, and while the PC has decades of wonderful adventure games to choose from, this one is unique among them and it’s a great addition to the Switch library.
Football Cup 2021 is out on Nintendo Switch
Whenever a new football/soccer game comes out that’s now FIFA or PES, we can’t resist trying it out to see if perhaps it could be the next Sensible Soccer or Kick Off – fun and accessible series from a pre-FIFA era. Football Cup 2021 just came out for the Switch, so we were eager to see if this one could perhaps scratch that itch for us.
On paper, it ticks a lot of boxes for a decent handheld soccer game that might play like a fun and accessible retro soccer sim. Generic player names (since Sensible and Kick Off also didn’t have licenses)? Check. Plenty of generic tournaments to take part in? Check. Quick start? Check. A budget price tag to match? Check.
The only problem is that Football Cup 2021 doesn’t play a good game of soccer, and isn’t a whole lot of fun to play due to awkward controls and poor AI. I can completely live without commentary, diverse crowd chants and flashy presentation, but I want the beating heart of the game to play well. In this case, passing was awkward, opponents would just stand there with the ball at their feet sometimes, my goalkeeper once tried to kick a ball upfield only to see it move backwards towards his own goal, and the other team’s goalie alternates between a goalkeeping god and someone who has no clue where he is.
To illustrate that last point – I didn’t score a proper goal in my first five wins, by which I mean that every shot was blocked by the goalkeeper. Not just knocked away… he’d grab and hold every shot firmly between his gloves. Unbeatable and the nightmare of every striker. Until you figure out that if you run into the box and see him coming at you, all you have to do is turn around and wait for him to dive to the ground, after which you can walk around him and walk or shoot the ball into the goal – because apparently it takes the guy at eternity to get up.
I tried playing a passing game, but passing was just too awkward. Swinging in crosses and going to headers? Also not really an option. In its state at release, it’s hard to have fun with Football Cup 2021 – in handheld mode it looks decent enough as a heavily stripped down version of Fifa, but I would recommend Super Soccer Blast if you’re looking for a fun little soccer game to play instead.