When you hear about games for the Nintendo Switch, you probably wouldn’t expect the description of GARAGE. An ex-drug dealer caught up in the middle of a brutal, demonic underground hell. Surrounded by dismemberment, deadly weapons, and drugs.
Developed by the minds at Zombie Dynamic comes GARAGE, the latest title picked up by tinyBuild and exclusively available for the Nintendo Switch. It’s a gruesome story about an ex-drug dealer who finds himself waking up in the trunk of a car surrounded by rats, zombies, and all other manner of evil. Soon it becomes clear that these abysmal abominations were experiments created by an evil mind and you must uncover the mystery.
GARAGE is a top-down shooter with a dark theme in which you follow a linear path while progressing in the story. I managed to get about 11 hours with the game, and the story is played out by finding in-game notes and also cutscene moments that appear. These cutscenes show the character’s 2D image usually, along with their dialog shown as text within a box. GARAGE is one of the creepiest titles on the Nintendo Switch to date.
Your rehabilitated drug dealer uses the left thumb stick to move about and the right thumb stick to aim and look ahead of yourself. Aiming seems to be very precise so it becomes a task in itself to master both moving and aiming at the same time. Enemies also only appear if they’re in your line of sight, rendering the look ahead feature rather pointless.
You’ll fend of various creatures of different sizes and strengths that require different tactics with different weapons as you collect more to add to your weapon wheel. Bosses are also introduced in classic boss form with sequenced attacks and cordoned off rooms. Thankfully the game saves at key moments, so you won’t end up defeated by the boss and respawned seven rooms before.
There are moments where you end up driving a motorbike precisely through thin roads with red barrels as obstacles. Fail to go through this section quickly and it’s a fail which I felt was a bit harsh. But hey, after nine attempts I did it!
You can roll to dodge, but it feels a bit laggy and seems to usually result in me rolling into danger or cornering myself. At one point you’re introduced to the skill of being able to locate secret rooms through trippy, psychedelic visuals. You can find the secret rooms by locating walls that look a bit bare and begin hitting it with your axe. These usually contain loot rather than story progression though. GARAGE brings back the feeling of classic top-down shooters with the line of sight system working well to leave your mind wondering what’s behind the next door.
Speaking of loot, you can find medical packs around the world, but you can just heal yourself with a chocolate bar and a refreshing drink found in crates and scattered about. Ammo drops become more frequent the closer you get to a boss and you’ll get scared by jump scares despite constantly expecting them.
GARAGE is one of the creepiest titles on the Nintendo Switch to date. It has such a weird vibe about it while not putting you face-to-face with a barrage of challenging puzzles. Instead, challenging bosses. Surprisingly the dialogue isn’t as mature as the games content, with rather generic conversations taking place without much vulgarity.
While the surroundings look rough, gloomy, and horrific in the sense of the word, it’s the character models that surprised me. They’re overly bright 3D models that don’t seem to fit in amongst the environment. As a bonus though they do move like classic top-down characters.
The out of place feeling could just be the effect of the vignette bringing more focus to the centre of the screen. An effect that works wonderfully well with the VHS scanline effect throughout the game. Occasionally you’ll get glitches across the screen, added more broke VHS atmosphere to the adventure. It is a shame that the game is so dark though.
Upon death, the screen cracks, but before that your health depletes and you see more and more red engulfing your vision. Which also works for killing your enemies as more red blood sprays across the floor. Some enemies end up dismembered as a result from your attacks, with heads rolling, and arms flopping all over the place.
What would you expect from a horror? Haunting music? Screeching of creatures? Powerful gunshots? GARAGE has all of this, although it’s true audio powers lie with the overpowering screeching of any demonic creature you encounter. A distorted squeal that sends shivers down your spine. The soundtrack does sound great, and I wouldn’t be surprised if there was going to be a soundtrack available to purchase after launch.
While I feel that you could get another two playthroughs of GARAGE done easily on the three difficulty settings, I also believe that once played, it’s fairly repetitive afterwards. It’s far too linear to offer anything different with each playthrough except finding the hidden rooms scattered around levels. Thankfully the game saves at key moments, so you won’t end up defeated by the boss and respawned seven rooms before.
I did find that the overall darkness of the games style didn’t perform well when out and about with the Switch on max brightness setting. And with no gamma adjustment in the options it seems like this is just a game to play while sitting in the darkness of your bedroom in your underwear. Having said that I’d suggest wearing two pairs of underwear just in case any accidents happen when a jump scare presents itself.
GARAGE brings back the feeling of classic top-down shooters with the line of sight system working well to leave your mind wondering what’s behind the next door. The addition of the stylistic VHS disturbance creating an eerie experience on top of a challenging gunplay tends to lead to a lot of frantic gunfights. Mistakes become easy to make at this point.
It’s not a bad game, it certainly has its flaws with the aiming, and the out-of-place characters, but it’s enjoyable. It’s one of those titles that gets you determined to power through because you know the solution is easy, but the it’s the practise that’s challenging you. I’m going to run GARAGE up to a Thumb Culture Silver Award.
Disclaimer: A code was received in order to write this review.