Switch version tested
Review code provided
The Nintendo Switch has seen its fair share of ports and continues to do so. These can range in quality and origin from the retro days of console gaming to Triple-A wizardry but most often its indie gems from all over the gaming spectrum including mobile who get new life and presence breathed into them. Which brings us nicely to Naught, originally released around 2012 on mobile, this challenging puzzler has now found its way to home console and thanks to the fine folks at Wild Sphere, TBG have been able to spend some time with the console version and provide you with our thoughts, let’s get started.
Naught is a stylish and slightly haunting puzzler where you take control of a cat (which in many ways is reason enough to buy the game) who has to traverse what can only be described as some kind of underworld to stop a shadowy threat. In each of the forty levels, you must guide Naught through a series of labyrinthian chambers full of traps and dangers in his quest to reach the light. The pathway will not always be clear so a bit of exploration will be in order to find the hidden passages through this shadowy afterlife setting.
Throughout each chamber, you can collect blue pollen which will grant you checkpoint respawns if you die, which you are very likely to do, if you run out of pollen then you must begin again at the start of the level. For the completionists out there, there are also three diamonds to find in each level, these will be progressively well hidden and become a challenge in themselves to acquire. In the mobile version collecting all three were required to unlock additional levels but thankfully that is not the case in the console version, but the inclusion is still a welcomed one for players who want a little extra challenge to work towards.
This may all seem a bit run of the mill, venture through a level, jumping and avoiding traps and dangers while collecting things, seen it all before right? Possibly so, but Naught has one slight caveat, you don’t control Naught, you control the environment. Using either L and R or the left analogue stick if you prefer, you tilt the environment left to right causing Naught to move with the gravity. A gentle tilt will see him begin to move or even fall towards the decline but can be slowed and stopped by landing him on an incline or flat surface.
You also have the ability to jump and invert gravity 180 degrees to make quick changes to the chamber if you aim to grab all the collectables. The mechanic will feel familiar to anyone who played LocoRoco back in the PSP days and although it sounds simple, it is a challenge in itself to get the hang of. You will have to juggle the momentum of Naught plus the moving obstacles and threats that lurk within each level which can feel like spinning a few too many plates at once given the sensitivity of the controls. The mobile version had the option for Gyro controls which made sense but its a surprise to see them not included for handheld play on Switch.
Naught may not tell a story in the traditional sense but if you dig a little deeper you will uncover a sombre story driving the experience forwards. On the menu screen, you can access a storybook which is full of great illustrations that unlock as you progress giving you a deeper insight into the world you are exploring. Though controls are quite sensitive and take a bit of getting used to the setup and performance is minimalistic in a good way with striking art design that pops nicely and is backed up by solid sound design. You can tell this is a mobile port but I can’t help but feel it was best left to those origins and misses a trick by not having touchscreen or gyro functionality included.
Naught is a great idea and I really loved the stylish presentation, the sombre story and most of all, playing as a cat! I must be honest and say I found the control scheme was not to my taste and a lot of the time I found the controls frustrating which made the fun moments far and few between, granted that is just this players experience. For those who get on with the control scheme you will find a decent platformer puzzler here but one that’s best left to pick up in the sales.
Platform: PC, PlayStation, Nintendo, Mobile
Release Date: 31/07/2020
No. of Players: 1
Category: Puzzle, Platformer
Developer: Wild Sphere
Publisher: Wild Sphere
Download link: eShop