REVIEW – UTOPIA 9 – A Volatile Vacation (Switch)

Don’t Forget To Pack The Fun Mixing rogue elements and Diablo-style action RPG gameplay, UTOPIA 9 – A Volatile Vacation on Nintendo Switch adds a bit of flare thanks to twin stick shooter controls, co-op play, and a rival system.
While traveling through space on a vacation trip, the playable character gets knocked off course, lands on a hostile planet, and needs to reach the other side of the map. The story and opening cutscene is a little weird but not nearly as strange as the control scheme. While dual analog twin stick shooter controls are easy to grasp, the weapon swapping and jumping never quite feels right. Since the player can equip each hand independently, the d-pad buttons (or what acts like the d-pad on the Switch controller) is used to swap between two sets of weapons and can be switched between hands. For example, you can tap a direction to put the melee weapon in the left hand instead of the right hand, then swap to an entirely new loadout. I found myself just randomly pushing buttons when enemies were not attacking until I equipped the weapons I wanted. Also, the player has the ability to jump but the gameplay never really calls for it other than the opening tutorial. The utility weapon, such as a camera flash to stun enemies, also isn’t used as much as it should. Overall, the character moves slowly and combat mostly resorts to hit and run tactics. The roguelike aspect comes into play thanks to random enemy placement and permadeath. Stages, however, remain mostly unchanged between playthroughs and the player has to select one of two branching paths from the start – this map screen also contains some extremely sensitive controls making it overly difficult to navigate. Once the player eventually dies, the enemy that did the killing will take the player’s loot and use these weapons/armor the next time they meet, essentially making a boss-like enemy among common bad guys. This would be a cool feature if the balancing wasn’t way off. Right from the start, the player will be overwhelmed and underpowered, often running out of ammo much too soon. Then, throw in this super powered enemy rival, and the player will experience a recipe for some frustrating game overs thanks to bullet sponge enemies. This Switch eShop download is an ugly game. Although colorful, everything is little more than a blob as there is no detail in anything. The sound effects are also low quality, making the overall presentation seem rushed, or one with a low budget. Two player co-op is available but with limited ammo, there could be some frustratingly unbalanced moments. At least the game keeps track of the loot you unlocked for viewing on the item codex screen for purists that want to collect everything. There are also dozens of in-game Achievements if you have the tenacity to stick with it. UTOPIA 9 isn’t a vacation worth taking. While I am a sucker for twin stick gameplay, especially mixed with Diablo-style action, this Switch game lacks polish and finesse. There is some solid framework here but the unbalanced gameplay and subpar presentation will make Switch owners want to play the port of Diablo III instead. SCORE: 5.5/10 Not As Good As: your favorite action RPG Also Try: Assault Android Cactus Wait For It: the Secret of Mana compilation to be translated and ported By: Zachary Gasiorowski, Editor in Chief Twitter: @ZackGaz

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