[Review] Escape from Tethys – Nintendo Switch

  • Developer: Sometimes You
  • Publisher: Sometimes You
  • Release Date: 12/08/2020
  • Price: $9.99 / £8.99
  • Review code provided by Sometimes You

Introducing: Escape from Tethys Switch Review

There is a good chance that if you blindly picked a game on the Nintendo Switch eShop it would be a Metroidvania. This genre is currently saturated to the point of combustion. A few years ago, I would have thought it to be impossible to say these words, but now it seems like it is a problem. Every other week a new Metroidvania is announced or a port of one is coming over. If everyone of them was up to the caliber of Super Metroid or Symphony of the Night, I wouldn’t be complaining, but that’s not the case. Today, I’m going to be discussing Escape from Tethys, which doesn’t shine as bright as those aforementioned classics, but may still be worth your time.

Journey to Another World

Before you start the game, you get a brief backstory to the events that shape the world of Tethys. You are a top scientist working for one of the top two corporations controlling the galaxy. Because they are competing so fiercely, your higher ups decide to send you to one of their off-world facilities to speed up production to get an upper hand. The location you are sent to is Tethys, and upon arriving, you are not alone. A deadly droid from your competitors shows up to crash the party. Before you can blink, you’re stranded, alone and must now survive.

The rest of the story is told in small data logs found all over the planet. Most of the dialog seemed inconsequential to me, but there was quite a bit of world building, which means the team at Sometimes You may be planning to expand upon a larger universe. Yet, the story just didn’t pull me in. It could have been their approach, in a Dark Souls-esque method of having the story there if you dig. Some may enjoy it, but I found way too many sections of information to be just bland.

The Last Robot

This is where the meat and potatoes of any Metroidvania lies: the gameplay. Escape from Tethys feels more Metroid like, with no “vania” present. For it being a different take on the Metroid story, the setting is perfect. You are a lone scientist now on a deserted alien world that is very hostile. Every enemy can potentially kill you, and very quickly at that. In the beginning of your adventure, you have very little health and only a tiny blaster that does very minimal damage. Upgrades are scattered everywhere in Tethys’ five regions. They are split up by combat upgrades that are usually mandatory for the story or provide significant boosts to your blaster. The other half of the upgrades are harder to find and upgrade your health and ammunition.

Both sets of upgrades are vital, but I would say the health and ammunition play a larger part in being able to survive the harsh terrain. Especially if you decide to take a wrong turn and go to a more dangerous section than you should be. Without knowing it, I completely skipped a section that would grant me a lantern of sorts to blindly venture into the darkness. I assumed it was just a challenging section and I made it through by the skin of my teeth and completed the next section. That particular boss battle was extremely grueling, if only in part that the previous “lantern” upgrade also boosted my attack.

When you finally acquire a few upgrades to your blaster and the double jump, the game’s difficulty begins to even out greatly. By the time I reached the last boss, I was hopeful that there was another encounter altogether because I felt it to be too easy. To make this harder, I could have bypassed all the upgrades. I was basically an invincible war machine with my fully loaded arsenal. I’m sure that could have inflated my playtime by making it much more challenging. After finding 99% of all the upgrades, I spent roughly five hours with Tethys.

Listen to the Color

Much of the art of Tethys felt minimalist with its sprites and backgrounds. That doesn’t mean they are bad, but compared to other faux 8-bit titles, it can seem simplistic. At times, it felt like a more advanced take on an early-gen NES game. There was a decent bit of diversity in Tethys’ rouge gallery. Many of the late-game bosses and enemies seem well thought out from both a gameplay and artistic perspective.

The music felt moody and atmospheric. The only time I found myself truly feeling the music was when it mirrored the environment or mirrored what I was feeling. Other times, I found myself ignoring it because I was too focused on surviving. Either way, neither of these make the soundtrack not enjoyable, but maybe just a bit forgettable.

Enemies Approaching

When playing the game in handheld mode, I found a weird glitch. My Joy-Con stick would have a one-to-two second delay when controlling the main character. When using the D-Pad, it had no such issue. I tested it out in docked mode, and it wasn’t present. I found another glitch when entering and exiting rooms. If you happen to pull up the map right as you are leaving the screen, the character will go out of bounds. This caused quite a bit of heartache early in the game, all you can do to solve this issue is to exit the game. Once you get a certain fast travel item, it can save you from this bug since it allowed access on the map screen.

Final Thoughts

We’ve reached the end of our journey with Escape from Tethys. Often it is said, it’s more about the journey and not about the destination. I truly believe this is the way you should look at this title. The end of the game was not challenging, and I wasn’t overwhelmed with its story, but I did have some fun along the way. Maybe the market is just so oversaturated with Metroidvanias that I have a hard time comparing them, but there are some joys to be had in this game. For $10, this really isn’t a bad value for a game, especially one that has the ability to test you. When you do surmount those peaks, it provides a great sense of accomplishment.

Pros

  • Challenging opening act
  • Plays close to the first Metroid

Cons

  • Glitches galore
  • Uneven difficulty curve
  • Forgettable story

Verdict

Escape from Tethys is a modest Metroidvania and while it has flaws, if you are willing to look past them, there is a decent game at its core.

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