Developer: Sometimes You
Publisher: Sometimes You
Release Date: 13 March 2018
Price: $4.99 / £4.49
Reviewed by Pat Lunn
Getting bored of your Nintendo Switch? Want something new to do with it? How about smashing it over your head in frustration? If that interested you then you might just be the type of person who would enjoy Sometimes You’s Spiral Splatter. The first game to ever make me scream in frustration while also refusing to stop playing it.
Spiral Splatter is a skill game of sorts wherein you’re required to guide a small white blob to a target using the incredibly sensitive JoyCon thumb-sticks. There’s only one catch; touch anything and you start the level again.
Running into a very appealing brick wall
Have you ever played one of those metal hoop and wire games? The ones where you guide a small hoop around a circuit and if the hoop touches the wire it completes a circuit causing an unpleasant buzzing noise to ring out? They were the bane of my childhood. A momentary lapse in concentration and the whole game was over. Spiral Splatter continues this tradition for the digital age.
If you stop focusing for even a second you’ll perish and lose all your progress. The stages require split-second timing and accuracy, which is complemented well by a short respawn time, meaning that you need to take the time to learn each stage. You can get up to 3 stars from a stage by running through it quickly and using the boost function, which takes the game from ‘hard’ to ‘impossible’.
You must get a certain number of stars to progress and you can only get those stars by mastering every hairpin turn on each level. This leads to constant trial and error gameplay that reminded me of everything from Dark Souls to Super Meat Boy. This is the simplest most refined version of those impossible games and if you’re a glutton for punishment, then you need to give it a try. That being said, it’s not perfect.
Beating the unbeatable game
This is not a game that you sit down and enjoy in an evening. There’s no narrative to get lost in, and the only competitive element comes from trying to get the best time on a level. To my mind this is a game that is almost solely made for use on-the-go. It feels like a skill-based app game, distilled down to pure gameplay that you can tackle in bite-sized chunks. I found it best for playing on the commute or at lunch, there wasn’t enough time for frustration to really build but enough time for me to grab a few stars.
The problem with this is that I was very rarely in a stationary position, meaning that my small white blob ended up flying all over the screen. On the later levels, this made success pretty much impossible, meaning that I then had to take it home and play on the sofa when I would rather be tucking into something meaty like Zelda or Skyrim. I think a few more checkpoints during the levels could have saved me from a lot of rage quits and frustration.
I was being somewhat sincere with my opening lines. If you’re the sort of person looking for a new challenge on the Switch and you don’t mind a little frustration then Spiral Splatter is right up your street. However, it’s fair to say that there are a lot of people who will find that this game’s addictive yet punishing nature is too much for them, and that’s okay. There are plenty of games out there that require a lot less effort to complete. But if you are a true challenge hunter, then Spiral Splatter should be the next game on your wish list.
Pros & Cons
+ Punishing yet rewarding gameplay
+ Fantastic level design
+ Simple control scheme
- A little too sensitive
- Possibly too punishing in places