- Developer: OrangePixel
- Publisher: Apogee Entertainment
- Release Date: 09/09/2021
- Price: £17.99 / $19.99
- Review code provided by Apogee Entertainment
Introducing: Residual Nintendo Switch Review
OrangePixel is a genuine reflection of an independent game developer. With nearly 20 years of experience, OrangePixel has been a one-man team since 2004. Some years later around 2011, the Xperia Play phone came out which gave physical controls on a portable phone platform and I was hooked. Sure, it wasn’t the PSP, but it was truly pocket-sized. Only a few developers, such as Kemco, supported the physical controls on the Xperia Play. OrangePixel was another. I bought up their catalogue of games and enjoyed bite-sized pixel goodness with physical controls on my cell phone. It was a new age. Well, portable gaming has clearly evolved since then and now I’m looking at OrangePixel again with my review of Residual for the Nintendo Switch. Let’s take a look at how this indie game company has changed with the portable landscape we find ourselves in today.
Star Date 7: Captain’s Log
Sheesh! I was soaring through the intergalactic void of nothingness when a total bop drifted in on my sat radio. Jams were lit until a cheugy meteor tried to impose and dance its way into my drip of a ship, no cap. Apparently the Karen rock was so mad it didn’t pass the vibe check it disabled my flight controls. Now I’m dropping faster than Cage.
Residual captures the imagination with an exciting story of being lost in space. Or rather on an alien planet with a multitude of obstacles. Most intentional but some not. As the lone survivor of a shipwreck, you’ll explore a limitless number of planets in a forgotten galaxy. Using technology hand crafted with help from your Personal Disaster Bot, you will unearth secrets from those who have been lost before you. Meanwhile a mysterious ooze encases the planet’s surface and continues to spread. You’ll have to act fast if you want to escape.
I really enjoyed the setting for Residual. It sparks the imagination and is shrouded in mystery. You play as a silent protagonist but who’s around to talk to? Oh, your Personal Disaster Bot or PDB. PDB is there to help your exploration and to see to it that you survive. Fully voiced, the little bot floats around offering advice and helping you learn about the strange worlds.
Star Date 56: Mission Log
Residual is a survival platformer which can include perma-death if you choose. Each world is procedurally generated and offers a lot of unique looks. In fact, OrangePixel designed a “Nature Engine,” which uses set environmental rules to create thousands of unique planets. They have varied temperatures, night/day cycles, and several hazards. These different effects impact your stamina and how well your solar suit charges. If you’re far away from the nearest sun, it may be more difficult to survive harsh environments. OrangePixel has certainly come a long way from just a little dot bouncing around a screen.
Once the game opens and you find yourself on a new planet, survival isn’t the only thing on your mind. Yes, you’ll need to forage for berries and cast a line to catch local fish. As a pacifist, you won’t be fighting the alien fauna. You can scan and research the various life forms but keeping your distance is the ultimate key. The platforming is rather simplistic with easy key inputs. The worlds are mostly generated in a way that you can navigate without too much issue. Occasionally you need to craft some ladders for the few areas that don’t provide a way out. Your primary goal is to go deeper and deeper beneath the planet’s surface and search for materials to repair your ship. The gameplay loop was incredibly addictive and fun but it wasn’t without its problems.
Star Date 117: Technical Log
When I started my review of Residual for the Nintendo Switch, I was blown away with what OrangePixel had accomplished. Even after encountering some game breaking bugs and other issues, I still really enjoy the game. But the problems were frustrating setbacks and required me to start over a handful of times. The biggest issue that ended a few of my runs was no way forward. I would explore downward so far only to find an impassable area. With nothing left to do, I had to start over. One example, I had to press a block onto a pressure plate. The only problem is I pushed the block out of my way and off a cliff. This was a new mechanic being introduced about 117 days into my journey, so I didn’t know about the pressure plate. There was no way to reset the block and it was the only way to continue. A few other similar occurrences ended other games but none that I had been playing as long.
Another problem I ran into was perpetual ruination. At a certain point, your solar suit or backpack will deteriorate and ruin. If it’s your suit, it will impact your control and damage your character. The backpack was worse because random items would fling from the pack until you got back to your wrecked ship to repair it. The only problem, these would break nearly every other in-game day. It was more than a nuisance and really detracted from the whole experience.
Fishing and food gathering have similar problems. The food gathering made sense and I quickly learned my lesson. If you pick a fruit then take the stick it was on, you’ll soon run out of easily accessible food. I got to one point during my first playthrough that I had no access to food. It was easier to starve to death and spawn at the ship than worry about my caloric intake. That’s less of a bug and more, now-you-know. Fishing is a different story. Once you catch a fish you fling it behind you to then pick it up. It worked fine on the surface for me but anytime I tried to fish in subterranean pools, the fish would bounce off a platform or ceiling and fall back into the water.
Other issues I encountered involved things not spawning correctly or disappearing when I reloaded the game. Some plants, namely the one with the infinite supply of stems would prevent me from grabbing movable blocks. OrangePixel is on the right track with a massive randomly generated universe, but there are still some kinks that need to be worked out.
Star Date 232: Environmental Log
Residual is a fantastic looking pixelated game. The art style is radiant with vast landscapes and foreign flora and fauna creeping all over thousands of worlds. I found arctic planets, lush jungles and ancient alien rings lost and forgotten. As much as I hated throwing in the towel on some of my runs, it was always exciting to see what stunning new world I would crash onto next.
The music was also fitting for the wondrous worlds seeped in ancient lore. If you prefer the local ambiance of the planet and animal inhabitants, you can turn off the music. I never considered that as the music adds to the sense of exploration and futuristic oddity of the strange planets. Your PDB, the little bot, is voiced and sometimes annoyingly so. A lot of phrases are repeated over and over, making Navi seem like the virtuoso of house guests. But, worse than that is when a massive dialogue box fills the screen while you’re on the hunt for a rare resource.
Star Date 716: Debriefing Log
Completing my review of Residual for the Nintendo Switch left me with mixed feelings. On one hand, the gameplay was a lot of fun. It was genuinely exciting exploring new planets and crafting a range of items. The base building was a bit shallow as creatures would destroy everything while I was away despite lining the area with defensive posts. The inventory system and gathering system was a bit quaint and too many bugs plagued my overall experience beyond the point of frustration.
However, Residual has a lot of potential. Especially with the Nature Engine OrangePixel implemented. The possibilities of what it can become are impressive and much of my time with the game reflects that. It’s just a shame that there were an alarming amount of problems that created too much frustration than I would like in a “non-violent survival” game. With the price point being where it’s at, I think it will leave a sour taste in some gamer’s mouths. I can recommend picking it up if you like to explore new worlds and the price dips on sale. Otherwise, keep an eye out for some patches or a sequel.
- Unique World Generator
- Exciting Gameplay Loop
- Greatly Replayable
- Shallow Base Building
- Poor Item and Inventory Implementation
- Paths Forward Frequently Blocked
- Core Gear Constantly Breaks Down
- Overall Buggy