Developer: Digital Legends Entertainment
Publisher: Digital Legends Entertainment
Genre(s): Shooter, 3rd Person, Online, Multiplayer
Platform: Nintendo Switch (Also available on Android, IOS)
Age Rating: PEGI 16
Release Date: 30/03/21
A code was provided for review purposes
Afterpulse is a third-person multiplayer shooter that made its debut on mobile devices. As a primarily free-2-play title, Afterpulse features your typical team deathmatch style gameplay with the added extra of buying extra cosmetics and weapons with your hard-earned cash. Afterpulse on the Nintendo Switch offers the same experience, yet asks for a hefty £17.99 upfront cost for the pleasure. So, is it worth it? Well, come with me as I find out…
Afterpulse doesn’t divulge too much of its story but this is what I gathered from the titles description on the Nintendo Store. In the near future, an electromagnetic pulse changes the state of power throughout the world. With tensions running high, the remaining world powers deploy elite combat squads to tip the odds in their favour. With time running out, it’s time to choose between keeping the fragile peace – or ignite the largest war the world has ever seen. On paper, it sounds quite fun but aside from this brief intro, the story is mainly set aside for the players own interpretation.
The gameplay of Afterpulse sees players taking part in various 4-v-4 battles via online multiplayer. Where other games of the genre see you taking part in meaningful battles that have some weight to them, Afterpulse‘ gameplay is extremely bare and shows its mobile roots. Controls are incredibly simple with mobility being limited to running. You’re unable to do much else, with your character forgetting how to do other basic human functions. Combat is also oversimplified with the game employing the worlds greatest auto-aim.
The auto-aim function is hilarious and takes what little fun Afterpulse gives us away. To be a killing machine, all you need to do is roughly point your reticule at an enemy player then hold the fire button and the game does the rest. You’re also able to utilize a rudimentary aiming system by holding the ZL button, but the auto-aim is so precise you never have to aim – this also applies to the games many sniper rifles.
Whilst the very generous auto-aim no doubts work well on a mobile, with the Switch it feels a little too simple. I’m not the greatest multiplayer player but in the majority of the matches I played, I was the MVP by a clear mile. This could be due to being matched with mobile players as Afterpulse doesn’t match Switch and mobile players into different queues.
Visually Afterpulse feels very much like a PS Vita title. It’s incredibly bland with a lot of uninspired environments and characters. Textures are very rough and suffer from bad pop-up. Character animations are also incredibly stiff, with the simplest actions looking like they’re being performed by a robot. These downfalls could be overlooked if the gameplay was engaging. Yet it all comes together into a bland and uninteresting experience.
Whilst the Nintendo Switch isn’t the most powerful console, it is considerably more powerful than most mobile phones. This means that Afterpulse should perform fairly well on the more capable hardware. Unfortunately, this isn’t the case. Loading times can take anywhere between 1-2 minutes. Whilst this doesn’t seem long – it is if you’re just waiting. Match times are also around 3-4 minutes, so you’re quite literally spending the same amount of time playing as you are waiting for the game to load each match.
However, it’s not all bad. Whilst the game isn’t optimised for the Switch, the console handles it incredibly well. Whilst I wouldn’t recommend playing this one in docked mode, the handheld mode is where Afterpulse “shines”. But considering its mobile heritage then that’s to be expected right?
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One big bug bearer I had is that unless you create an account with Digital Legends, you’re locked out of every game mode except training. While creating an account allows you to carry progress over from both versions of the title, it forces this upon you. I would have preferred if this was an optional request, rather than forcing you to do so.
I’m not one to normally mention prices in my reviews, but Afterpulse is the exception. On mobiles, the game is free-to-play and gains its revenue from the sale of the dreaded Loot Box. However, for the same experience, the Switch version costs a whopping £17.99. While this does grant you a few unlocks, everything is so simple it hardly seems worth it.
Everything about Afterpulse is tailored towards a “freemium” mobile title. There’s various different currencies that can be earned in-game or via many boosters that are on the eShop. More puzzling is the addition of a stamina system, which is mentioned yet never enforced. I would assume that this part of the mobile version that’s bled over in the port?
As with every ‘freemium’ title, there’s quite a lot of items to be unlocked. These range from guns, to armour and cosmetics. Each item has a stat attached to it and can be levelled up to unlock additional power. Whilst this borders on an almost “pay to win” aspect, the amazing auto-aim removes any advantage from the equation.
After Action Report
Afterpulse is a title that I can’t recommend any Switch player buys. The whole experience is incredibly bland with some terrible animations and lacklustre visuals. Whilst the free-to-play business model may work for mobile players. It doesn’t suit the Nintendo Switch. There are at least two free-to-play titles on the Switch which apply the same style, yet are far more enjoyable.
Rapid Reviews Rating
Afterpulse is available now and can be purchased from the Nintendo Switch eShop here
You can find and read our reviews on OpenCritic.