Released on the 7th of March, Switch – or die trying is a 2D puzzle platformer from developer Threye Interactive, retailing on Steam for £6.99 (or £5.59 with the 20% price reduction if you purchase the game in release week). Cubed Gamers were granted access to a special press beta, allowing a chance to sample and review the game. So, what’s Switch – or die trying like?
Hard. Incredibly hard. This game is definitely a punishing platformer.
Switch – or die trying has some charming aspects: The playable character is the letter ‘i’ from the English alphabet, who is traversing levels in order to find the other letters that left him behind and whom has adorable character motion. There’s also an interesting core mechanic highlighted in the game’s title – switching physical form. Ordinarily, the character is a lowercase ‘i’, but by pressing B or right trigger, you can change form. This mechanic is crucial for progressing through the levels, as it allows a secondary jump; it’s often almost impossible to complete levels without switching. The game also has a charming art style, accompanied by a menu system which involves jumping across bookshelves and using your character to select levels. There’s also freedom in the level select – you don’t seem to be tied to completing previous levels before moving forward.
In this game, that’s a blessing – but one that I found to be of little use. The difficulty increased quickly with very few hints, and although I’m not opposed to difficult games, it didn’t work in this case. Of course, this may well be personal opinion, and the lack of progression achieved could be attributed, for the most part, to a lack of familiarity with challenging platformers. However, it’s often beneficial for games with a high difficulty to give the player a sense that overcoming the obstacles faced, and linked to this progression, is possible and this was missing for me. This could be due to the influence of perspective: the level design and the distance between the platforms can sometimes seem insurmountable, rather than any glaring fault in play-style.
When you combine this with annoying death sounds, a high pitched ‘lets play!’ at the start of levels, and music which can sometimes become jarring, the experience can be incredibly frustrating. Some games are frustrating but you keep on picking that controller back up, but unfortunately this wasn’t one of them.
Switch- or die trying does have interesting mechanics which are integrated well with puzzles and a gorgeous art style, along with some replayability in terms of having achievements to gain the different star tears (beating the course time and collecting ink drops). In fact, for those accustomed to difficult platformers this might well be a fantastic game – it does show some signs of promise. However, for me it offered high levels of annoyance for minimal reward, and is missing the spark of earlier platformers such as Super Meat Boy, from which this game has visibly drawn influence.