Connect with us


‘Destiny 2’: Let’s Admit It Failed



Bungie has undoubtedly given video games some of their best FPS titles over the years, and have often found themselves at the forefront of not only the market but also the genre. Halo 3 helped to define the Xbox 360 as a console, while ODST and Reach added a greatly needed flavour to their franchise. Since their departure from the Halo franchise, when they sold the rights to 343 Industries who now control the future of the much-loved Master Chief, Bungie has seemingly been aiming to create a new universe that is as iconic, and genre-defining as Halo once was (and in some ways still is today).

Unfortunately, Destiny and its successor are not those games, even though Bungie likes to believe that they are. With the release of the Forsaken DLC, and its release for free to all users of the PSN network in September, Destiny 2 proves yet again that it hasn’t learned from the mistakes that made it’s younger sibling feel stale, boring and tired. Not to say that Destiny 2 doesn’t have brilliant moments – and better yet, a story to tell.

Light, Show Me the Way

Cayde’s input is sadly short-lived in a story, that mostly takes itself far too seriously

Destiny 2’s story mode, albeit short, is fun while it lasts. Which is a massive improvement from the first game, where the plot was seemingly lost in the endless Peter Dinklage quotes of him sounding bored. That being said, it struggles with becoming something amazing. The game opens with the Last City, your home, under siege by the Cabal’s Red Legion (a race of eight foot tall, five hundred pound, skinless space-mole rats with a love for war), which makes for an awesome opening sequence. You’re then fighting on the ground, shoulder to shoulder with other players as you struggle to get aboard the command ship and take out their leader. As you finally reach the top of the frigate, you’re confronted with a horrible moment as the Traveler is essentially rendered useless, and with it your powers as a Guardian. The Light, your weapon, is lost to you. The city is taken as Ghaul, the leader of the Red Legion, kicks you off the frigate and into the ruins below.

The first two hours of Destiny 2 are amazing. They’re tightly written, with a clear drive and plot that puts you back in contact with faces you already know, while keeping your character moving. But then it doesn’t last long. After making contact with other Guardians, it becomes clear that an all-out assault on the city is imminent. The game then simply makes you assemble the three Guardian leaders (Ikora, Cayde, and Zavala), who then help you smuggle yourself onto a giant space-laser in order to then take out Ghaul when you come back to Earth. It’s anticlimactic, to say the least. There could have been so much more to this story, with other Guardians getting their own light back, perhaps assembling a militia, or even doing more to steal weapons and gather supplies.

It’s frustrating because there are glimpses of an amazing tale here, and there’s times when it shines through. There’s a cutscene on Io, where Ikora talks about her fear of dying, as the Light can no longer revive her, and what that truly means at this point in time. It’s an amazing sequence, but it’s totally ruined ten minutes later when she agrees to go back to Earth. While the writing is light years ahead of Destiny itself, it struggles to build upon the interesting premise it sets for itself.

Tamed Monsters, Clipped Claws

Even elite Guardians we meet along our path are no match for the enemies that we can slay in a single headshot

For a universe with undead creatures that wield sorcery, ravenous scavengers who need technology to survive, and a race of impossibly ancient sentient-godlike machines that convert entire planets to their own: Destiny 2 has a lack of weird science-fiction. From the story beats to the gunplay, everything is incredibly muted in a strangely surgical way. Even the Light, a weapon that can bring back Guardians from beyond the grave, is restricted by the lack of science-fiction. I understand that designing new weapons, subclasses, and even races can take a team days of work in order to get a solid idea together (especially when the universe is already established), but Destiny 2 has an inherent lack of weird, wacky and wild sci-fi. I wanted to see weapons that had specific defensive purposes, guns that have weird buffs or debuffs, or just guns that looked outright awful to the eye – I didn’t get this.

Even the stranger elements, like the Taken, consist of mostly bi-pedal humanoid-like creatures either wielding a firearm or a large melee weapon of some sort. The sheer lack of variety really kills the mood and thrill later on. Of course there are some variants and unique exceptions (like the Servitors of the Fallen, or the Hydra of the Vex Collective), but there’s nothing with five heads, or a horrible mutation, or even just a lot of tentacles. It’s too clean, and it brings the game down. The lack of grit, of good old-fashioned horrible sci-fi, is a serious detriment to the franchise – that seriously also effects the gameplay.

Guns & Gods

With only a few new gun classes, Destiny 2’s gunplay feels more like Destiny 1 with a fresh coat of paint

Destiny 2 makes the player feel like a god from the off, and does little to challenge that at any point during the game. From start to finish, even when taking on more tricky situations such as the Nightfall strikes, the entire game feels easier than before. There’s no hard evidence to prove this, and perhaps it’ll vary from player to player naturally, but this addition to the franchise feels like its poised to give players everything with fewer challenges. There’s little learning curve, so Destiny 2 has the advantage of throwing hundreds of enemies at Guardians with little worry for their lives. For the most part, it’s point-aim-click for either a head or a glowing spot.

Destiny 2 feels like a product aimed to be sold to as wide an audience as possible, without ruffling anyone’s feathers when it comes to difficulty.

Beyond that, you’ve got the class abilities and superpowers, but they detract from the challenge. Grenades recharge roughly every thirty seconds so throwing them out isn’t a worry, while both the melee and the class powers simply make you stronger. This creates a problem for longevity because Destiny 2 is mired in its ‘grind more’ mindset. Giving players more power sooner creates a power-creep vacuum later down the line because you need to give them more, and more to feel the same way. But that doesn’t happen. There are no immense bosses to take down; few truly challenging foes and fewer satisfying kills to be had.

Because of the lack of design variants when it comes to enemies, foes, and bosses: it becomes incredibly dull, incredibly quickly to shoot the same things over, and over once you’ve got the technique nailed down. Aim for the head of the Fallen, Hive, and Taken, and shoot the glowing areas on the Vex. There are few examples of any enemies in this game that break those conventions, and it’s saddening really. Destiny 2 feels like a product aimed to be sold to as wide an audience as possible, without ruffling anyone’s feathers when it comes to difficulty. Which is a shame, because some ruffling would have been very welcome throughout the whole experience.

Passes Here, There & Everywhere

Forsaken promises new raids, gear and subclass – but all that greatness is locked behind a DLC wall

The inclusion of the Eververse in Destiny 2 was a very unwelcome change. If anything, it showed how tone deaf Activision can truly be, even in the wake of EA’s Battlefront 2 saga. While these purchases don’t make a player better and are only aesthetic, they still represent a horrible practice that is alive and well within the industry. Inserting your own form of currency (“Silver”) in this case, making all armour shaders a one-use item rather than a permanent feature, as well as closing off the rarer vehicles and emotes behind these paywalls is nothing short of madness.

As it stands, without any DLC, Destiny 2, on its own, is a product that has been neatly carved into pieces so that the maximum amount of revenue can be pulled from its still-beating corpse

At the end of the day, they’re only there to cynically make more money from their playerbase, as if all the DLC additions don’t do that already. It’s frankly a little insulting to see the Eververse stand in the tower social area, as it’s a firm reminder that all Activision-Bungie care about is the depth of your wallets. This doesn’t include the fact that Destiny 2 is also, like its younger brother, a half-game. In the sense that, if you buy the rest of the DLC, you’ll get the full experience.

As it stands, without any DLC, Destiny 2, on its own, is a product that has been neatly carved into pieces so that the maximum amount of revenue can be pulled from its still-beating corpse. And it’s okay that a title have its own DLC, but having all the awesome storylines happen within those additions and having a confirmed total of five packs, is clearly sending a message to all players.

Outside the Game’s Walls

As cinematic as Destiny 2 is, it’s often outshined by the things happening outside the game that it gets renowned for

Whoever handles either Bungie’s or Destiny 2’s social media accounts when talking to their own playerbase needs a tutorial in charisma. Since its release, nothing but controversy has dogged this title. Between not delivering the title that hardcore veterans wanted, and then responding to community outrage over players discovering that faction rally earning was naturally capped past a certain point, Bungie has made nothing short of a hash of things. While they have managed to get a firm head of their shoulders now, it’s a year later and the majority of players have departed with little intent of returning.

Bungie even removed a feature from their site that allowed live player counts to be seen, saying that “we’ve removed this chart because people were using it to spread a false narrative of the Destiny 2 population”. Which is fair; information like that could be used to make the title look worse than it’s actually doing. However, it’s fairly evident at this point in time that Destiny 2 is simply haemorrhaging players. If not for the release of the Forsaken DLC, then it would have likely continued to trickle down until they’d be left with only hardcore superfans.

Parting Words

While this isn’t a review, no score needs to be given here. Destiny 2 could have been game of the year in 2017; it could have walked into the ceremony with all it had learned from the first game and wiped the floor. But instead, it came back with half measures. It came back with a watered-down system that didn’t appeal to hardcore fans, and pandered to new players with an easier PvE mode. It felt like it hadn’t gone away and learned anything. Few things about this title shine, but if you look in the right places, at the right times it can look brilliant.



  1. Andrew

    September 13, 2018 at 11:29 pm

    So a week after Forsaken launches you decide to publish an article that trashes the game’s preforsaken content and this is your justification for why it has supposedly failed? Destiny 2 had serious problems at launch that are now mostly fixed and you speak nothing of this. Have you even played Forsaken?

    • Realistic

      December 25, 2018 at 12:10 pm

      You missed the point entirely. The point is Bungie fucked up D2 so bad, nothing could save it, including the Forsaken DLC. Too little too late is the point. Sure, there are still some people playing it, but there will always be a few flies buzzing around a pile of shit.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Game Reviews

‘Woven’ Review: Comfortably Soft and Lumpy

Despite those blurry visuals and stilted gameplay, there’s something endearing about this innocent elephant’s adventure.



With a sincere warmth and fuzziness that conjures up dreamy recollections of 3D games gone by, Alterego Games’Woven mostly overcomes its blurry visuals and technical jankery to somehow create a pleasant, old-fashioned experience. Those excited by modern gaming probably won’t give this lovable hand-me-down a second look, and perhaps they shouldn’t; extremely simple actions and soothing narration support a fairy tale quality that’s probably best suited to younger players. However, anyone willing to look past the well-worn exterior in search of a relaxing break from stressful button pushing may squeeze more fun out of this familiar stuffed toy than they might originally expect.

Woven tasks players with taking control of a meandering patchwork elephant named Stuffy, and guiding him through a sparsely populated knitted world that seems to have met an untimely demise. Because Stuffy has cotton for brains, he is assisted on this journey by a much smarter metal firefly named Glitch (a reference to his role in this story?), who floats alongside the curious-but-clumsy plush toy and provides hints as to how he can use his various abilities. Together, this odd couple will traverse open plains blanketed with colorful yarn grass, maneuver around impassable felt trees and plants, and hopefully discover the secret of where Stuffy’s clueless kin have all gone.

Along the way, the duo will walk great distances (often without much event), solve the occasional environmental puzzle, and generally just keep on keepin’ on.Woven is mostly straightforward in its campaign, merely about getting from point A to B by whatever means the path requires. Most often this involves finding new blueprints that allow players to change Stuffy’s design from an elephant into a wide variety of other animal shapes, each with a set of abilities that come with a new set of arms, legs, and a head. For instance, while the stocky (and adorable) bear can push plush boulders and perform a mighty stomp, the goat and frog can both use their legs to hop, while the kitty cat is able to push buttons on rusted consoles that activate dormant machinery.

However, these abilities are usually only able to activate when context-sensitive prompts from Glitch appear, so don’t expect some sort of platforming freedom. Woven handles a bit clumsily in that regard and others; strolling is definitely the order of the day, as long as Stuffy doesn’t get hung up on the geometry.

But these actions do help provide variety; a tropical bird of some sort (toucan, maybe?) can sing certain notes, while a pelican-thing can fly (sort of) over land and shallow water with great speed. And so, it often becomes necessary in Woven to alter Stuffy’s look with a total reweave. These designs can be applied at various sewing machine-like stations scattered about, which go a step further than just swapping Stuffy the deer for Stuffy the ape. Each blueprint is comprised of five parts, allowing for players to create a Frankenstein Stuffy made up of all the best abilities the player has on hand (or cushioned paw). By mixing certain sets, Stuffy will soon be able to scale mountainside crags, cross piranha-filled rivers, and pick up industrial cogs without the need to make a pit stop and bust out new needle and thread.

Some truly hilarious (or horrifying, depending on your sensibilities) aberrations can be created; seeing Stuffy hobble on hooves as he flaps a wing on one side and swings a muscular gorilla arm on the other, all with the head of a squirrel, is freakishly entertaining. In addition, for those who like to wander off the beaten path, there are a plethora of knitting patterns to discover, tucked away in both obvious and devious locations (and denizens). These cosmetic enhancements can also be applied at the sewing stations, essentially giving players seemingly endless amounts of customization. And these aesthetic changes even get in on the puzzle act every once in a while, especially when a pesky cobra shows up.

But outside the odd ‘connect the power line’ or ‘raise and lower platforms’ objectives, Woven doesn’t throw much at players that even young children shouldn’t be able to handle — and that seems to be the aim. Stuffy’s adventure lives or dies on its wholesome and serene vibe, which players either buy into or they don’t. There’s no combat here, very little to actually do outside hunting down those patterns, illuminating some painted caves, and activating some of Glitch’s ‘memories’ contained by machines hidden in the soft folds. Ongoing narration is pleasant to the ears, often conveying old-fashioned morals and cutesy jokes, but there’s no more story than in a classic fable.

And make no mistake — though the world is certainly bright and cheerful, it’s also quite fuzzy around the edges. The tactile nature of the cloth textures is lessened greatly by the low definition (at least on the Switch version), eliciting memories of the Wii-era. An increased crispness would have really made the world of Woven pop off the screen, perhaps luring in a larger audience who have become accustomed to such. There is still plenty of charm, but it feels like a missed chance at that true magical feeling the game seems to be shooting for.

Other stumbles come when certain worlds try to open up a bit more, which might lead a younger audience to get frustrated by the lack of direction (especially when they keep getting hung up on that geometry!); Woven definitely works better when it’s casually guiding players along, letting gamers of all ages envelop themselves in the easygoing atmosphere instead of requiring tedious backtracking. There’s just something nice about sitting back and relaxing to hummable music, watching the roly-poly amble of a stuffed kangaroo.

Woven will not be for everyone; those who play for challenge or eye candy won’t find either here. And yet, despite those blurry visuals and stilted gameplay, there’s something endearing about this innocent elephant’s adventure. Woven certainly has its share of lumpiness, but somehow remains cozy regardless.

‘Woven’ is available on PC, Xbox One, PS4, and Switch (Reviewed on Switch).

Continue Reading

Game Reviews

‘Destiny 2: Shadowkeep’ Review: Moon’s Haunted but Still Shines

‘Destiny 2: Shadowkeep’ returns to a familiar destination but Bungie is reworking Destiny with each expansion and Shadowkeep is no exception.



Destiny 2 Shadowkeep Review

Destiny 2: Shadowkeep may be a return to a familiar destination, the Moon, but Bungie continues the trend of reworking Destiny with each new expansion, and Shadowkeep is no exception. Replete with a reworked season pass system, progression systems, customization options, sandbox re-tuning and quest interface, Shadowkeep is both a welcome iteration and extension of the existing Destiny 2 experience offering more RPG-esque player agency than Destiny has ever seen before. While the game is still haunted by some overly familiar issues, Shadowkeep is a welcome expansion and a promising start to the third year of Destiny 2.

Old Haunting Grounds

The Moon isn’t the only familiar face in Shadowkeep. Keeping with tradition, Eris Morn has returned from a long absence for another dark, lunar expansion (the first being D1′s The Dark Below when the character was first introduced) as she investigates a disturbance deep within the Moon. Quite literally haunted by the past, Eris has called upon the Guardians to assist her in finding the source of the phantoms plaguing the Moon and vanquishing “Nightmare” versions of familiar visages from the past.

All is not entirely as old players might remember. An immense hive structure, the Scarlet Keep, now overshadows previously unexplored territory on the Lunar surface. New Lost Sectors hide in the depths of the Moon, and new secrets a la the Dreadnaught or the Dreaming City lie waiting to be discovered by inquisitive players. And at the very center of the expansion an ancient, unknown threat lies in wait, an ominous foreshadowing of the trials ahead.

While the expansion does a decent job ensuring the familiar haunts don’t feel overly recycled, it’s hard to say Shadowkeep makes the most of the Moon. The campaign opens on such a high note as players storm the moon in an unexpectedly matchmade sequence before individual Fireteams independently uncover an unanticipated twist that absolutely shatters expectation. Unfortunately, the narrative quickly devolves into uninteresting fetch quests that fail to live up to the intrigue of the initial mission nor live up to the narrative heights of some of the most memorable missions the Moon previously housed including fan favorites The Sword of Crota and Lost to Light to name a few. That’s tough company to keep, and Shadowkeep fails to measure up.

Similarly, a bit of that intrigue is reintroduced in Shadowkeep‘s final mission, but, like the campaign as a whole, it’s over before the player knows it and fails to live up to the precedent set by previous, lengthier campaign conclusions. More mileage is gotten out of the narrative and destination in the post-game in the way of a new weapon farming system, a new activity known as Nightmare hunts that play like mini Strikes, and a Strike proper, but that does little to alleviate the disappointment of an overly terse campaign that reads like a teaser for what’s to come over a distinct, fleshed-out story.

A New Era, a New Season

Part of that is presumably courtesy of a shift in Bungie’s approach to content releases. While the previous expansion, Forsaken, similarly opted for procedurally released content over the course of the season, Bungie has doubled down on that strategy with Shadowkeep ensuring there’s something new to be experienced each week that players sign in. While certain activities have alway arrived post-launch including raids, dungeons, and exotic weapon pursuits, Shadowkeep and its “Season of the Undying” has seen new PvE and PvP activities launched after the expansion’s initial drop, adding to an already lengthy list of Destiny to-dos.

Central to the season is the new PvE, matchmade activity, the Vex Offensive, which pits six players against waves of Vex combatants paired and features some minor puzzle elements, all for the sake of earning a series of weapons exclusive to the mode. While the Black Garden locale of the mode is certainly eye-catching, the Offensive, with its recycled mechanics and familiar enemies, doesn’t leave much of an impression beyond that. It might pale in comparison to activities introduced in past seasons (like Warmind‘s Escalation Protocol, or last season’s Menagerie), but is intentionally terse, intended to match this new seasonal philosophy, and will be removed from the game after Season of the Undying (though the exclusive arsenal will still be available in the loot pool obtainable through undisclosed means). Like the Vex themselves, the Vex Offensive might not seem like much independently, but collectively is a piece of a greater whole challenging and rewarding players for participating within the specific season.

Bungie is further defining each season with the inclusion of a seasonal artifact and a season pass system. The artifact, again only available for the season, offers players an avenue for additional, limitless Power gains while also offering unlockable gameplay mods encouraging players to utilize specific classes and builds. The Oppressive Darkness mod, for example, debuffs enemies hit by void grenades, encouraging players to construct discipline-oriented, void builds. Another mod, Thunder Coil, increases the power of arc melee attacks by fifty percent, giving all new life to the Hunter’s Arcstrider subclass. Meanwhile, the season pass operates similar to that of Fortnite or any number of games and replaces the previous cosmetic only level up system of Destiny 2‘s past. From the season’s outset, any and all experience goes toward unlocking rewards from the pass including new armor, armor ornaments, exclusive weapons and exotics, and engrams. The experience requirement for each level is static, meaning progress is fair and steady throughout and never feels throttled. Both seasonal systems are fantastic new additions that reward players for playing the game while making experience gains more purposeful than any other time in Destiny‘s endgame.

New Duds to Boot

Shadowkeep also marks the debut of Armor 2.0, a new system that allows players more agency in character customization than ever before. Whereas armor previously rolled with random perks and a roll of only three stats (Mobility, Recovery, and Resilience), Armor 2.0 comes with no perks and six stats as Destiny 1‘s Intellect, Discipline, and Strength (determining the charge rates of player’s super, grenade, and melee abilities) make their triumphant return. Instead, Armor 2.0 has slots for modifiers so players can pick and choose whatever perks they want just as long as they’ve unlocked those mods. Mods are acquired from most activities, while enhanced mods (better versions of certain traditional mods) are exclusive to some of the game’s more challenging content. While the grind for mods seems excessive in the face of the rest of the game’s grind, it’s a one-time affair, some of the best mods are unlocked via the seasonal artifact, and the payoff is astounding, providing customization like never before.

Convoluting the process, unfortunately, is a messy elemental affinity system where certain mods can only be slotted into armor of a matching elemental type. Mods relating to pulse rifles, for example, are exclusive to Arc armor, so a piece perfectly rolled to a pulse-rifle-inclined player’s preference with a solar affinity won’t do them any good if they were hoping for pulse rifle perks. It was undoubtedly an intentional design decision to generate an arbitrary grind since players won’t need to chase armor with perfect perks any longer but is ultimately a mar on the face of an otherwise pretty great new system.

Convoluting the process, unfortunately, is a messy elemental affinity system where certain mods can only be slotted into armor of a matching elemental type. Mods relating to pulse rifles, for example, are exclusive to Arc armor, so a piece perfectly rolled to a pulse-rifle-inclined player’s preference with a solar affinity won’t do them any good if they were hoping for pulse rifle perks. It was undoubtedly an intentional design decision to generate an arbitrary grind since players won’t need to chase armor with perfect perks any longer but is ultimately a mar on the face of an otherwise pretty great new system.

Axe to Grind

Speaking to the grind, Destiny has often struggled and failed to find the perfect balance of meaningful power climb and tedious grinds recycling the same old activities. Luckily, at the outset of the climb towards max power, Shadowkeep strikes a much better balance centered on beloved ritual and new and or seasonal activities. Power drops now operate on a clearly labeled, tiered system, incentivizing players to prioritize new or challenging activities for maximum gains. Ritual activities (Strikes, Crucible, and Gambit), though tier one, retain their relevance by offering multiple weekly powerful drops for match completions, vendor bounties completed, and rank progression. Previous, otherwise irrelevant avenues towards power have been retired, but this is a welcome reduction and there is no shortage of powerful drops in the climb to max power. That isn’t to say that the grind couldn’t be shorter ensuring more players can participate in endgame activities when they first arrive, but progression generally feels smoother than any time in Destiny‘s past.

Conversely, content flow might overwhelm casual and even dedicated players as there’s simply too much to do and grind for players tight on time. Bungie now considers Destiny and MMO with proper RPG mechanics, and, in terms of time commitment, that really shows with Shadowkeep. On a certain week, a player might have an accomplished week in-game after sinking only three to five hours into the game. Other weeks the game seems to demand closer to the ten to twenty-hour range. One week, for example, saw the release of the new dungeon, a new Crucible game mode, an exotic quest, a new public event, and the start of the Festival of the Lost, a limited time, Halloween event. That’s simply too much, feels like poor pacing, and favors streamers, Destiny content creators, and hardcore players for whom Destiny is their exclusive hobby, a burgeoning theme with Season of the Undying. While it’s certainly exciting that there’s always something to do in D2, it doesn’t seem true to the game’s roots as a hybrid, a shooter with MMO elements, that could be taken at a more casual pace but still offered an engaging endgame for the dedicated audience. Now, there’s only an endgame with no end in sight.

A Better Destiny Awaits

That’s not necessarily a bad thing for players who want to pay a minimal price for seemingly unending content, and in that regard, Shadowkeep is a steal. A sensational new raid (minus some finicky new mechanics), a foreboding dungeon, an immense new arsenal to grind for, and a better tuned PvP and PvE sandbox in which to enjoy them mean Shadowkeep will keep Guardians’ attention the whole season long and is an excellent proof of concept for the seasonal structure going forward. If Bungie can keep this pace up, year three of Destiny 2 could easily be the best year in franchise history. As a general caution though, Destiny 2 now clearly caters to the hardcore, requires MMO levels of commitment, and is best enjoyed with a regular group; casual, time-restricted, and solo players beware. It might not be the best single expansion release in franchise history (that’s still a toss-up between The Taken King and Forsaken), but, beginning with Destiny 2: Shadowkeep, the third year of D2 is the closest the tumultuous title has ever come to Bungie’s ambitious vision for the shared-world shooter and the game fans have been waiting for these past five years.

Continue Reading


What Are Some of the Switch’s Best Indie Devs Making?




The Nintendo Switch has quickly become the preferred platform for some of the most talented indie studios in the industry. Its pick-up-and-play form factor and Nintendo’s concerted effort to court smaller developers this generation (complete with indie-specific Directs) has resulted in a library that’s positively flourished.

Despite the eShop falling victim to some of the discoverability and shovelware issues that long plagued Steam, there have been some real standouts over the years. Since video games take quite a while to produce, there’s often speculation as to what some of the premier developers have been working on. Let’s take a look at four of the most recognized indie studios on the platform and have some fun trying to figure out what they might be up to.

Sidebar Games

It’s hard to believe that 2017’s Golf Story was Sidebar Games’ first project as a studio. The two-man team from down under balanced a delightful dose of Australian-tinged humor with clear callbacks to the Mario sports games of old to deliver one of the best Switch exclusives in 2017, bar none.

Unlike the other studios on this list, Sidebar has been extremely silent on development progress; we can only glean bits and pieces from the few interviews they’ve done. We know the game has been in development for roughly two years and that Sidebar was still in active development as of March 2019 when they put out the call for a pixel artist for their next project. There’s also a fair chance that the new game will either be Switch-exclusive or target Switch first, seeing as how Golf Story is still one of the Switch’s top 10 best-selling indie games to date as of Spring 2019. If exclusivity worked so well the first time, why not try it again?

What Can We Expect?

Whatever Sidebar is working on, it’s almost guaranteed to be single-player and story-focused. One half of the dev team, Andrew, has gone on record multiple times saying that he’s “very partial to story modes.” This also players into one of their strengths; though there was a great time to be had with Golf Story’s golf, it was all elevated by the game’s ridiculous-yet-lovable characters and wacky situational humor.

Since the team has already deconfirmed a sequel as their next project, there’s really not much to go on. While I’d personally love them to tackle something Mario Tennis-inspired next, there’s a good chance they’ll avoid sports altogether. As long as the wit found in Golf Story is alive and well, though, their core audience is sure to be interested.


Despite being incredibly simple from a visual standpoint, the deceivingly charming Slime-San is still one of the best platformers to come out in recent memory. The game’s striking three-color art style isn’t just unique, but it’s also ingrained into the platforming mechanics in inventive ways. Beyond having a look all its own and a stiff challenge for players who wanted it, however, Fabraz went the extra mile to build a fun cast of characters and even a hub world to explore outside of the main game. It was a pleasant surprise from a relatively unknown developer at the time.

Fabraz has been anything but complacent since Slime-san’s launch. The studio released two free content expansions, ported the game to other consoles, and even got into the publishing business. No matter their other ventures, however, the team has made sure to tease their next project every so often since the start of 2019.

What Can We Expect?

Fabraz speculated that their new game was already roughly 60% complete at the start of October. Since it only began production in December of 2018, it’s safe to assume that the next game will be relatively small in scope. It’s also likely that Fabraz’s next outing won’t be “Slime-san 2,” since the original game received such heavy content additions months after release (including an expansion literally titled “Sheeple’s Sequel.” The team certainly knows how to make magic from very limited resources, so it’ll be interesting to see what they can do with a bit more of a budget, a new art style, and tons more experience.

Game Atelier/FDG Entertainment

It feels like Monster Boy and the Cursed Kingdom came out of nowhere. The team at FDG Entertainment had published indie darling Blossom Tales: The Sleeping King just the year prior and the console port of Oceanhorn before that, but there wasn’t much talk about FDG’s capabilities as a developer. As it turns out, however, Game Atelier’s choice to bring them on as a co-developer was the best thing that could’ve possibly happened to Monster Boy. Five long years of development later and fans were treated to one of the best platformers in recent memory.

Though it launched on all consoles, Monster Boy famously sold eight times more on Switch than PS4 and Xbox One combined, reminiscent of the sales of Blossom Tales on Switch. Needless to say, FDG’s next title will be targeted squarely as the Nintendo community. But what could that next project be?

What Can We Expect?

A Monster Boy sequel. FDG recently celebrated their collaboration with Game Atelier on Twitter and announced that they’re collaborating once more. The commercial and critical success of Monster Boy can only lead one to believe they’re hard at work on a follow-up together. Thankfully, with such a solid base to work off of now, this one shouldn’t take nearly as long to release.


Chucklefish has garnered a great deal of respect in the indie community as both a developer (Starbound, WarGroove) and frequent publisher (Stardew Valley, Timespinner, the upcoming Eastward, and others). Their eagerness to bring so many of their top-notch titles to Switch has made them one of–if not the–most lauded indie studios on the platform. If it’s coming from Chucklefish, there’s a good chance it’ll be of the highest quality.

What Can We Expect?

Witchbrook! Chucklefish announced the game way back in 2017 and instantly had both Harry Potter and Little Witch Academia fans foaming at the mouth. It’s a magical school simulation/RPG where players will attend class, learn spells, make friends, date, and work towards graduation. The company’s CEO and lead designer, Finn, has been incredibly open about the game’s development from the beginning. In fact, he made the ever-changing Witchbrook design document public in August of 2019 to give some insight into the game design and planning process.

Since there’s already so much we know about where the game’s going, this is going to be used as more of a “Hopes for Witchbrook” section. To keep it short, let’s focus on two of the game’s most make-or-break elements: dating and world-building.


One of the things many RPGs struggle with is making dating feel meaningful after the relationship starts. People love romancing in Stardew Valley, but the experience itself is really rather shallow; bring characters their favorite items, talk to them daily, experience a few touching cutscenes and voila! All that’s left is to put a ring on it and have a baby.

My hope is that in Witchbrook, the real fun starts after the relationship begins. Being able to have lunch together, go to festivals, celebrate anniversaries, plan outings, and even introduce them to the player’s in-game friends would go a long way in making the relationship feel more than a ribbon to be crossed.


When someone asks the seminal question “What fictional world would you love to live in?” the world of Harry Potter almost always tops to list (right next to Pokémon, that is). It isn’t just because of magic itself or the emotional ties people have to the cast, but more so because of the immense amounts of personality and lore J.K. Rowling infused into the world. From the dark history of Hogwarts to the vast array of magical beasts to the establishment of Quidditch, there is a whole movie and video game series that has been created based on mere slices of the Harry Potter universe.

Naturally, it’d be silly to expect Chucklefish to achieve as much depth in an indie project as one of the most successful authors of all time did over the course of seven books, but there’s still plenty of potential. Since the game will primarily take place at the school, exploring why the school was created and how it’s changed over the years could be quite interesting. Then there’s how different populations of the world at large feel about magic, how various magical species play a part, the favorite magic-imbued pastimes of students in the world of Witchbrook, and so on. The key will be to infuse magic into every element of the world (and gameplay) as naturally as possible. And after reading through the extensive design doc, I’ve no doubt Chucklefish will be able to pull it off.

The indie scene on the Switch is thriving more than ever. New talented developers are making the platform their home every day, and those who’ve already proved themselves are hard at work on their next premium experience. The next wave of releases from these studios can’t come soon enough.

Continue Reading