By Snowhydra Games for Nintendo Switch, this surprising story-driven arcade shooter Zarvot lets you play the character of Charcoal, a blue cube who is on a mission with his best friend Mustard. Their goal is to find a banana.
Well…that’s their first obstacle anyway. By finding a banana, they can complete their birthday present for Red, another friend in the group.
However, things obviously don’t go to plan and it’s a long journey through the chapters, to find out what’s wrong with Red and how Charcoal and Mustard can make everything better again!
There are nine unique worlds in Zarvot, all of which are filled with numerous challenges. Blasting your way around corners, being trapped in waves of battles along the way, and having to deal with a wild cube who hasn’t had their morning coffee, this story takes you above and beyond the arcade experience.
Lasers and whatsits galore!
What was very quick to get into with this game was the gameplay and the shooting experience. There is a small tutorial at the beginning of the game, but as I say, it’s a very small tutorial. The rest the player learn as they progress with the narrative. However, the controls are very easy to understand: one shoots lasers, one lets you spin so you can destroy multiple enemies, one lets you jump, and another lets you skip forward to avoid tight situations.
The only differences that come with each level is finding out how new enemies work, the level of difficulty goes up, and the characters you have with you varies. However, the gameplay is Zarvot’s strong point.
With 60FPS and ultra-low latency controls, the game plays like smooth butter.
It looks real…but it doesn’t?
Have you ever seen the short Pixar, The Blue Umbrella? It’s the story of a blue umbrella that falls in love with a red umbrella, but gets lost in the wind and has to find its way back to its owner. Whilst this was a good short, which I highly recommend by the way, its visuals remind me very much of the world of Zarvot.
The outside locations in Zarvot have those realistic visuals about it, with the obvious fact that they are graphics which created these visuals. What really helped was placing the story in an almost real world, especially in locations such as on a bench overlooking a huge river, or along branches and wood that link junctions together. It matches the tone of the characters and the story surprisingly well, especially when you’re trying to defeat a large banana.
Does The Story Fit?
You would think that there wouldn’t be many games circulating around a bunch of shapes, but it’s not as uncommon as you think. Thomas Was Alone is a game that I can see a resemblance of, except only a narrator spoke for the shapes and not the shapes themselves. Through a narrative, the player had to control the shapes through different levels until the bitter end.
Zarvot is very similar in this case, however in Thomas Was Alone, the gameplay and the story progression happened at the same time. In Zarvot, there were many times where the narrative got in the way of gameplay, and even moments where I skipped dialogue without caring. There could have been a more effective way of incorporating gameplay into the story in a similar way Thomas Was Alone managed to work through it.
Ready Player Four
If the player isn’t interested in progressing with the story, there is the option of choosing arcade levels where up to four players can progress through different maps and waves. However, the issue again relates to the story. You have to play the game in order to unlock different levels.
It is a successful way of getting players to interact with the story mode more than everything else, but the issue is the other players who just want to use the game for its multiplayer mode. You are able to unlock at least three levels in the first hour of playing, but there is still tons more to find.
Some people may have problems with the story, others with the arcade multiplayer mode. In either case, maybe people can find a middle ground with Zarvot. Its story may progress slower for the player to handle, but nonetheless, it’s a beautiful story to experience.
The arcade mode and multiplayer may be affected by having to unlock levels in the story mode, but you cannot deny that it’s a good way to engage the players with the story. Either way, you’ll have an interesting experience with Zarvot.