Paranautical Activity (Nintendo Switch) Review

Game Title: Paranautical Activity
Company: Digerati Distribution
Platform: Nintendo Switch
Availability: Digital Download
Battery Life: 3.5 – 4.5 hours
Download: 431 MB

Rogue games are fun little games in that they have random elements to them. The Binding of Isaac is fun to do runs because they’re never the same. All of the rooms, enemies, bosses, and items are all different from run to run. It got so popular that other genres started mimicking the formula for a set of time. Some had success and others did not.

One genre that tried this out was the first-person shooting genre. There were a few “Random Generated” FPS games, but one indie game that I played and covered before was called Paranautical Activity, a Rogue FPS that had more pixel-style graphics and the gritty difficulty that many rogue games are known for.

While the Vita version of PA was fun, it had problems with not only the frame-rate but a lack of PSTV Support. so how different is it on the Switch? Let’s find out. Here is my review of Paranautical Activity for the Nintendo Switch!

Story

Due to this game having no story, this section shall remain blank.

Gameplay

PA is a Rogue FPS, as many people call it. In other words, it’s a first-person shooting game with randomly-generated levels, providing each ‘run’ of the game with different enemies, items, bosses, and weapons.

Like games like The Binding of Isaac, PA is played in ‘runs’. You start on Floor 1 of the dungeon and play until you clear the 8 floors the game offers or you die. After that, you restart from the start and play again, with the hopes of reaching the end on any run you didn’t reach it the first time.

The idea here is that you play the game and learn from experience. The goal of each floor is to locate the boss, kill it, and then take the elevator to the next floor. But that’s easier said than done. Every enemy and boss type has patterns and ways to move around them, but actually learning those patterns is very difficult. 2D rogue games are hard to master, but PA proves that 3D rogue games are the same way. Even after playing the Vita version so much, I had incredible amounts of trouble relearning the game when I got it for the Switch.

Thankfully, you have different characters and loadouts to choose from, so you’re not always using the same weapon type. Each character has set stats and set weapons they start with. One is the primary weapon that has unlimited ammo and the other is a Power Weapon which is significantly stronger but has very limited ammunition.

You can collect items and other weapons as you progress, though. Whenever you kill enemies, they drop Gold, which can be used in Shop Rooms to buy items to boost your abilities as well as weapons to trade into your arsenal. Items can also be obtained by defeating bosses.

This is where the longevituy really comes into play. Outside of the high difficulty increasing your time through attempts and learning, the game has dozens of achievements that you unlock as you accomplish certain feats. These achievements unlock new items that will appear in the dungeons as you replay the game. This is also a bit of a thing for Rogues, as Isaac also has this feature of unlocking new items for use in future runs.

However, there is also a downside to the game, in terms of variety. While there are lots of items for you to unlock, the enemy variety placement is a bit lacking. While there are around a dozen mob types and boss types, the more you play, the more you see the same enemies and bosses again and again. The fact that a third of the bosses don’t unlock until you clear several floors certainly doesn’t help, but by my 3rd run on the Switch, I’d already seen mostly everything I’d seen in my first and second runs, repeated. It took me almost a dozen runs to start seeing bosses I hadn’t already fought.

Controls

Controlling the game isn’t too hard, but learning is. The game doesn’t do anything to explain how you do anything, so everything is just learn-as-you-go. Of course, the menu is there for you, but there is no tutorial in the intro to push you along.

Moving is done with the Left Analog Stick and Aiming with the Right Analog Stick. The ZL/ZR triggers are not used, but the L trigger is used for grenades and the R trigger for shooting your weapon.

The face buttons are used for the rest. You can Jump with A, use a power-up you’ve picked up with B, switch weapons with X, and use an Item with Y.

Overall, it’s pretty easy to understand. It’s just that the game doesn’t really do anything to inform you of any of this.

Presentation

Visually, the game looks pretty smooth and crisp in both Docked and Handheld modes. With its more pixel-like design, this wasn’t hard to do. The Vita version also looked nice, in this regard.

The performance is very nice here as well. The Vita version struggled a lot with frame-rate, dipping down into the 20s very often. Outside of the still-annoying loading sequences when entering a new room, the game stays at a nice, steady frame-rate from start to finish.

Battery Life

Battery Life is pretty nice in this game. Sure, it’s a 3D game, but the pixel-like design just might have helped this out. Here are my times, from 100% to 0%

Max Brightness + Wi-Fi – 3 hours, 28 minutes
Max Brightness + No Wi-Fi – 3 hours, 36 minutes

Low Brightness + Wi-Fi – 4 hours, 09 minutes
Low Brightness + No Wi-Fi – 4 hours, 17 minutes

That’s a good amount of Battery Life. Funny how this is yet another game with longer Battery Life, yet each run won’t take that long to finish.

 

Summary

In conclusion, Paranautical Activity still isn't a perfect game, but the Switch version definitely improved what the PS Vita version struggled with. The game still has those annoying 'freeze-loading' sequences when entering rooms and has the problem with too much consistency in enemy variety/placement, but this is definitely the best way to play it, at home and on the go.

7.5/10

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