Smelter | Review | Nintendo Switch

Trailer

Video Review

Introducing: Smelter Review

I’ll be honest, the only reason I jumped at the first sign of a trailer for this game was the incredible animation of the opening cutscene.  Purchasing games with this type of buying method has led me to some severely great games, as well as some absolute duds.  Does Smelter surprise and impress enough to be a $20 piece of glory, or does it double down and devalue itself immediately after the opening cutscene is over?

Adam and Eve and…Smelter…?

Hi, there!

Smelter’s story opens us up with two figures that should look vaguely familiar.  They’re the stars of that one story from that one book that stars several magic men who did magic man things!  Real quick, If you want to beat this game fast, have Adam, who you can control in the opener, walk as far to the right as you can before the screen goes black.  You win!  But, if you want to play the game, consume the apple and ruin the paradise Adam and Eve.  An explosion will go off and after a quick fade from black, Eve will be falling through the air while the game intro scrolls up.  It’ll recap the last 30 seconds of gameplay as well as fight with some unseen 3rd party about ‘staying focused.’ 

As soon as the scrolling text becomes Star Wars levels of annoying, it ends, and you can finally take control of Eve.  You take her through a brief stint of platforming to introduce the basic mechanics in this game until you meet up with the title character of this game: Smelter.  He will bestow Eve with armor that grants her several powers such as a health bar, a grabby hand thing that will heal Eve and allow the armor to acquire more powers, and more!  Fight your way through this tutorial level until you come to the overworld where the other half of this game is introduced.

Simply Too Much At Once

Imagine when things get DIFFICULT!

Smelter suffers from an extreme case of ‘trying to do too much’ in which it simply tries to do everything at once and doesn’t do any single thing well.  On one hand, it’s this action-platformer akin to Megaman X with challenging extra rooms and incredibly difficult bosses.  A system of gameplay that it does excellently in the beginning levels, even the challenges are more fun than they are hard to complete.  Unfortunately, the challenge outweighs fun as you realize how spaced out check points are between difficult platforming segments.  They begin feel more like a gasp of relief as opposed to a breath of fresh air.

On the other hand, the overworld is handled via RTS-type gameplay in which you operate as a Eve-less Smelter.  You operate him via twin-stick shooter rules: one stick controls, one stick shoots in the direction pointed.  You’ll also build and manage several buildings for creating and training eventual cadavers who will fend off enemies for you.  This, like the Megaman gameplay, is excellently played in the beginning area, but afterward reaches a level of tedious difficulty that only reminded me why I don’t like playing Strategy games: I’m bad at strategy games.

After playing for several hours in this game, a major question begins to surface: why is this an Adam and Eve story?  Clearly it didn’t need Eve as she never speaks and is stripped completely of her individuality as soon as Smelter is introduced.  She doesn’t get to talk, and is only a reminder that this is still an Adam and Eve story.  It began as an epic that sought to flip the script and let Eve take the mantle as a hero, and ended up handing Smelter the spotlight.  Let her say SOMETHING instead of Smelter constantly pointing out that ‘her silence says it all’.

Final Thoughts

I don’t understand the armor. It protects SO little.

Smelter began as an incredibly unique game that made you wonder how it was going to blend all of these elements together into the epic the animated trailer makes you think it might be.  It ends up being a game that should have stuck to one idea, let Eve have a personality of some kind, and should definitely have added more check points in the more difficult portions of it’s platforming.  It’s hard to recommend this game past the first 2-3 levels, or for more than it’s animated trailer, so that’s why I won’t.  Watch the trailer a few times, but save your 20 American dollars.  They can be better spent elsewhere.

Pros

  • First few levels are fantastic
  • Transformations are cool
  • Is fun for a few hours

Cons

  • Checkpoints spread too far
  • Eve stripped of character and individuality when Smelter is introduced
  • RTS elements will never have enough resources
  • Several confusing currencies
  • Challenge eventually outweighs logical level progression

Verdict

Some Hybrid Action-Adventure/Strategy/Twin-Stick Shooter games blend the elements together well, this is not one of those games.

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