Platform: Nintendo Switch
Rating: M for Mature
Only a few years ago it would have been almost unthinkable to have had a horror title on a Nintendo home system. Now with the Nintendo Switch at the height of its popularity and some killer intellectual properties on store shelves and releasing soon, the system is also being treated to some unlikely indie games such as Garage.
Wake Up and Smell the Blood
The game begins with Butch—our protagonist—waking up alone in a vast underground Garage. If that’s not spooky enough, there is blood smeared on the walls and floor. You follow the trail, between the crumbling remnants of humanity like broken glass, crates, barrels, abandoned journals, and falling debris, until you come upon a corpse. The worse thing is not the carcass though, the worse thing is that said corpse does not stay dead, but instead rises bent on recruiting you among its undead ranks. This is when you realize your only objective is to help Butch escape this zombie-filled maze. The narrative is mostly told through text boxes, yet this does not dampen the experience as the gameplay is where this title shines brightest.
Bringing Top Down Shooters Back to Life
Upon first picking up Garage, it brought back some nostalgic feelings, mainly due to its aesthetic similarities to such PlayStation classics as Fully Loaded and Grand Theft Auto, two games I thoroughly enjoyed during my childhood. These were, of course, games in the top down shooter genre, a category that has not seen many new additions in recent years. Thankfully developer Tiny Build has resurrected—pun intended—this dying gaming style.
The premise is simple: players take control of Butch from a bird’s eye view, controlling his movement with one joystick whilst aiming with the other. As you can imagine with a game of this ilk, there are a variety of weapons for players to use against the zombie horde, including an axe, pistols, shotguns, machine guns, explosives, and much more. There are also many different types of grotesque boss enemies to encounter and defeat, like a human centipede inspired zombie army. There is a lot of fun to be had here, but there is also a lot of frustration. This is not an easy game by any stretch of the imagination. Death can come swiftly and, at some points, cheaply. I have been trapped in a corner more than once where I was hit and hit, unable to retaliate until my character died and I was forced to restart.
Eyes from the skies
As previously mentioned, we see the world from above. This makes the less than stellar graphics a little more, well… stellar. Light bulbs shatter and blink if you walk over them, fire casts a warm glow on an otherwise dark area, and blood is pleasingly sent bursting in all directions when your weapon makes contact with a foe. This is where the game’s old school visuals work best, making gore visceral and raw without being gratuitous, especially when playing in handheld mode.
At its best Garage is a highly addictive old school top down shooter that fits right at home in the palms of your hands, at its worse it is frustrating and repetitive. Which side you see depends on the gamer you are. I had hours of fun with pellets of frustration sprinkled in.