For me, the Nintendo Switch is the perfect machine to bridge the gap between a pick up and play mobile experience, and full on console gaming.
Don’t get me wrong, it can more than hold its own up against the behemoths from Microsoft and Sony – and in some cases manages to trump the experience given to Xbox and PlayStation gamers – but similarly, if you wish to delve into a simpler life, one that would find a place on mobile, then it too can deliver.
Because of those factors, it is the perfect place to find Awe.
Awe is a god-like game in which little instruction is given in how to proceed – leaving you to play the part of overseer in this yet-to-be-created universe. In fact, your first few minutes with Awe will have you fumbling around without a clue, before seeing things click and for you to fully understand what is needed to progress. But, it is this attitude that sees the game able to deliver a stunning idea that turns out great for those times when you are after a quiet, relaxing life, without the hassle of too much in terms of gaming mental stress.
Awe provides you with a solar system and variety of planets (both of which you can personalise with their own unique names), leaving you to help them grow by placing a variety of coloured elements on to each, finalising things by placing a ‘home’ before blasting off to another weird and wonderful land; usually one that comes with a slightly different shape and style of tiles. With planets starting off with basically triangular areas making up a simple sphere, levels in Awe fast turn into bumpy globes and a variety of shapes, which in turn deliver a little bit of variation to the whole experience. This is where the sense of progression comes into play; everything you discover, and every secret that is found, will ensure your interest rarely wanes, particularly as you try to understand your place and purpose in the grand scheme of things.
These planets sit in a gravitational pull, spinning on their axes slowly, leaving you to delicately tap individual tiles in order to earn sparks, which then see the addition of further colours and hues. By working your way through various combinations of colours, more sparks will be accrued and each and every planet will slowly, but surely, spring to life.
How you go about building on these planets is totally up to you; running combinations of tile presses and earning the required sparks is pretty much all you’ll be left to do from the first moment you slap eyes on Awe, to the very last. But that is all you will want to do too, with very little worry ever coming about from the gameplay mechanics.
It all works nigh on perfectly, with each and every touchscreen press actioned brilliantly, which sees Awe come across as a highly inoffensive title. In fact, once you can see past the lack of direction and instruction, there is very little to not like about what the team at BadLand Publishing have created. Yes perhaps it is a bit slow going for many, but similarly, there will be a good few other gamers finding a real love for Awe, as it worms its way into your heart.
The god-like world and that of wielding ultimate power is one that has been done to death across decades of gaming, but somehow Awe manages to still come off as a highly unique experience with a hugely addictive draw; it may look complex from the outside, but from the minute you get to delve inside this universe, simplicity takes hold.
But for all that complexity, the visual side of Awe is most certainly of the basic variety, although it more than does the job intended of it. In fact, if the decision was made to run with a more advanced visual look over the lovely 3D low-poly art, then I think part of the appeal of Awe would be lost. Instead, with a clever use of the colour palette and multiple hues ensuring that each and every build of a planet in Awe is a clear and concise affair, the simple poly textured graphical style that has been utilised here works like a dream; allowing you to really shape things how you see fit with ease.
Further to that, the basic audio system also really does the job intended, seeing any short term session with Awe dropping you into a zen like relaxing state. Perhaps the pings of success become tiresome across any of the longer efforts that come about from the addictiveness of the gameplay, but that’s not what Awe is about; short and sweet certainly wins through.
This all comes together to allow Awe to be a great little time waster. You won’t want to spend hours at a time messing around with your god-like powers, as the visual strain and patience required for hammering out stage after stage is one that could quite well bring trouble, but as a cheap pick up and play experience, allowing you 10 minutes or so to shape a singular world, it more than does the job intended to fit well into the Switch ecosystem.
Release date: December 2018
Formats: Nintendo Switch (Review)
Massive thanks to: BadLand Publishing