Simplicity doesn’t necessarily beget mediocrity. Rather, it should ideally allow quality to shine, but just as often the former unfortunately occurs.
Such is the case with the new Nintendo Switch action title Destruction. It is, in almost all facets is a prime example of a simple idea executed poorly.
From Cosen Co, a multimedia publishing powerhouse, the aptly uninspired titled Destruction is a 4-player action, game. Played from a top-down, isometric perspective, the game sees you shooting your way through hordes of enemies in a small variety of gameplay modes and maps.
These modes range from wave based attacks, killing a certain number of enemies, capturing vantage points and even hostage rescue situations.
After a brief tutorial mission in a secret lab, a world map opens up as you gain access to a long list of missions taking place around the globe. Before each mission players are given the option to drop in co-op partners, adjust weapons and other minor personalisation options.
The plot will be immediately familiar to anyone who has seen any of the Uwe Boll tier action films of the last decade.
The world has gone to Hell, the government has built top-secret military bases to grow super soldiers, a rogue AI sends the soldiers to war. Which yes, when you write it out sounds ridiculous but the beats are ripped straight from C-Grade action cinema and the writing isn’t far behind.
Crush, Kill Destroy
The plot plays like many of these action adventures typically do, presented through a series of comic book style cutscenes. Destruction offers up a collection of super soldiers to choose from, each with a somewhat distinct combat style and weapon.
The artwork for each agent is actually quite charming, with a fun variety of styles and artistic influences shining through; Men in Black, cowboys and macho American tough guys galore. The writing rarely matches the interesting nature of these character designs but it’s still a fun range of absurd characters to choose from.
The faults with Destruction aren’t necessarily those of functionality. Everything I’ve talked about above, even bad writing, could be thrown together into a fun experience.
All of the pieces of the puzzle are there but in laying them out on the board, Destruction becomes a near-total mess of a game.
Back to the Drawing Board
The core mechanics function but fail to deliver any sense of weight, completely lacking in satisfying gameplay. Every weapon in the game feels too similar, all packing the same lack of punch to enemies whose health takes far too long to chip away, culminating in combat that never once made for a fun time.
Each agent in your line up is equipped with different power-ups that are meant to add to the chaos of the battle (special attacks, shields etc) but these abilities were rarely useful. Area of effect pickups litter the map but the game fails to explain to you exactly what each is doing, only compounding the issues with power-ups.
The only real exception to this rule was an agent’s ability to heal himself, which I found myself spamming as the game’s difficulty curve is more of an unmarked sharp turn on an icy road than appropriate ramp up.
The ‘world’ doesn’t fare much better, with each level feeling and looking like a half-finished collection of 2D assets. I was struck early on during the training missions how lifeless the backdrops felt, especially when contrasted to the character design, but figured that once the game opened up proper I would start to see some variety.
This was not the case, however, as each new country felt far too alike to the previous one.
Sounds Bad Man
Destruction also stumbles with its soundtrack and audio design too, unfortunately. If I never heard the overworld song again it’ll be too soon.
While the weapons feel so unsatisfying in large part to the small pings of sound they emit when fired. Enemies make the same grating pain grunts all the time and combined, these all make the game a chore to listen to.
Which is really the crux of Destruction’s problems. Each element’s mediocrity alone would not have undone a game but combined, they form a completely forgettable experience. The fault with the game isn’t it’s scope or lack of production values as such, but rather the sheer lack of fun.
The Switch is overwhelmed with fantastic co-op experiences and even smaller indie titles that do so much with a relative little. Those looking for cheaper alternatives to big games on the handheld could do a whole lot better than Destruction.
Destruction was reviewed on Switch using a digital code provided by the developer.
Game Title: Destruction
Some well drawn characters - 6/10
Poor Core Gameplay - 3/10
Boring Level Design - 4.1/10
Forgettable Music - 4/10