Escape from the Universe Review – Nintendo Switch

Developed By: CAT-astrophe Games

Published By: CAT-astrophe Games

Reviewed By: Leigh Wynne

Thank you so much to CAT-astrophe Games for providing a review code

Story

After the destruction of planet earth, humanity escapes the chaos and scatters across the universe in an attempt to find safety among the stars. However, the universe is a vast and hostile environment full of danger.

Unaware of the human races current situation, a pilot born after the destruction of earth, tries to find his true calling. Not knowing the dangers dangers ahead, the pilot travels through the universe seeking answers.

The Journey

Upon starting your adventure one thing is very apparent, this isn’t your typical shooter.

Escape from the Universe has a unique mission structure which allows you to pick your quest and side missions as well as purchase new stories as you progress through the game. Each mission requires to complete a specific objective. That objective can be anything from, racing to a specific destination, trying to kill hostile targets and even trying to capture other ships in your tractor beam. 

The gameplay shifts between 2D action levels and 2D shoot em up style levels. One minute you could be flying in your spaceship, destroying asteroids and the next you could end up on board an alien infested ship in an on-foot mission to destroy a generator. Then you could be thrown into a giant mech as you take on a massive alien abomination.

Sounds fun right? Well, it is at first, but the repetitive nature of Escape from the Universe’s core mechanics, cause this game to take a nose dive into the void of tedium.

Lost in Space

There’s a story to be told here, which has multiple branching paths that can lead to new side quests and new discoveries. This list of stories also includes the new stories that can be purchased in the mission menu once you’ve accumulated enough credits.

Credits are a form of currency, which you are awarded after any mission or side quest you complete. Not only can you buy new stories once you have enough credits, but you can also upgrade your main spaceship with a few new improvements. These improvements include, increased fire power for your weapons or armor for your ship. Increasing your ships armor will increase your health bar which is located in the top left hand corner.

Controls & HUD details

Controlling your vessel is as simple as moving it around with either the left analog stick or directional pad. I found the analog stick to be a tad too twitchy, so I opted to use the directional pad. You can also shoot with the A button and keeping it held will let you perform rapid fire shots. There’s also side weapons attached to your ship, but don’t worry, they fire independently from your main weapon.

You can increase your spaceships movement speed by pushing forward on the analog stick or D-pad and decrease your speed by pushing back on either. The Speedometer shows you your current speed and can be found at the top of the screen. 

The Objectives Bar is green in color and is located in the top right hand corner. As you move the bar slowly fills up. Once it’s completely full the objective will be completed. Sometime you will be required to kill a boss and in this instant the objective bar will act like a life meter and instead of increasing it will decrease depending on the boss’s health.

The Void

Story mode focuses on a series of events happening across the universe. I played through a story arc about a deadly infection that is slowly killing thousand of people. In this storyline, I also happen to be humanity’s last hope to find the cure.

The story is told through text boxes which is definitely not the best way to tell an engrossing story. Eventually you end up contracting the infection and then it’s a race against the clock to find a way to stop it from spreading and to find a cure. The story is broken up into segments and each segment has a different objective to complete.

Escape from the Universe’s main issue is that the gameplay feels tiresome, generic and isn’t very dynamic. Everything in Escape from the Universe revolves around its credit system.  If you die a lot on a certain boss, for example, you can restart from the beginning of the encounter, but doing so will require a payment of credits. Should you use them all up, you’re pretty much dead in the water. This means that you will have to replay older missions to save up enough credits to try again. It’s an annoying gameplay loop that doesn’t feel very rewarding.

Each mission can fall into a number of different types of objectives such as getting from point A to point B, destroying all enemies, chasing other vehicles or defeating bosses.

There are certain missions you get to play where there isn’t any hazards or enemies to fight. So you’ll want to make sure you fly through these barren sections quickly. I have no idea why these sections are included. They felt like unnecessary filler that were there to make things feel longer.

At the beginning, the story mode was enjoyable, but the entire time I couldn’t help, but feel that there was something missing. The game may have had a range of environments that slightly differed from one another, but the missions started to become too similar and lacked variety. The majority of missions consisted of shooting down hordes of enemies. Unfortunately, the combat mechanics are not very satisfying. There’s no real skill involved apart from holding down the button for your weapon and moving up and down.

There were missions where you had nothing to kill, but simply had you flying into power-ups to slow down time, so you could dodge moving obstacles. These missions didn’t feel all that challenging and once again, I was left feeling unsatisfied.

While there were some enemy variety and obstacles to avoid, the repetitive nature of the missions really started to drag the experience down. It also didn’t help that the bosses were simply huge bullet sponge’s that took ages to defeat with very little pay off.

I fought a massive alien plant on a spaceship which sounds great on paper, but it took nearly 15 minutes to get its health bar down almost to the end. Of course, at the last minute I died due to poor hit detection and I had to do the whole process again from the beginning which was infuriating.

Presentation & Visuals

The visual design in Escape from the Universe look quite well done. I really liked the wire frame look, alongside the slick art style and color palette.

Issues

I did encounter a few technical issues during my playthrough. Technical issues such as slow-down and stuttering when there were lots of enemies on screen happened a significant amount. Considering this game isn’t pushing any boundaries in terms of visual presentation, I was shocked seeing the inconsistent frame rate cropping up so often.

Summary

Escape from the Universe is a generic, action shooter with some good ideas that don’t blend well with the overall package. I didn’t feel invested enough in its world, despite the interesting branching narratives. The gameplay really fell short of my expectations.

Sadly, Escape from the Universe became monotonous, because of the same mission types that came up time and time again. Nothing evolved enough to keep me wanting more of the gameplay. It’s a shame as I can see Escape from the Universe’s potential, but sadly it doesn’t do enough with it. This isn’t a title that I can positively recommend, especially when there are much better titles on the eShop you could be spending your money on.

5/10

Pros

  • Interesting Branching Stories
  • Multiple Spaceships to Unlock

Cons

  • Performance Issues
  • Combat Feels Tedious
  • Bosses Are Bullet Sponges That Don’t Feel Rewarding to Beat
  • Generic and Lacks Polish

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