Apple Slash Review
Publisher: Ratalaika Games
Genre(s): Arcade, Action, Adventure
Platform: Nintendo Switch (Also available on Xbox and PlayStation)
Age Rating: PEGI 7
Release Date: 30/07/2021
A code was provided for review purposes
After playing Dojoran, I was inspired to continue playing games with minimal colour palettes. Apple Slash stood out to me, and I eagerly partook on this adventure. Is this title a cut above the rest? Find out in this Rapid Review.
Slash to the Chase
As with many smaller titles, Apple Slash omits a traditional story. Little occurred on my journey. I immediately went out to talk to my brother. He sends me on a quest to defeat the monsters that have been inhabiting the land. It is simple, but it is a cute premise, nonetheless.
The story itself is not noteworthy. Instead, it detailed a loose structure to follow throughout the game. There was no lesson to be learned and no justification for many of the events that took place. Even though nothing was important in the story, there were some funny moments. There were comedic deaths scattered all throughout Apple Slash. It was strange that the character never reacted to these gruesome sights. Nonetheless, the story was a simple but enjoyable addition.
What stands out here are the loveable characters. After meeting my brother, I met a few other interesting characters. They guided me on my journey, gave me additional abilities, and made the experience feel unique. I kept wondering who I would encounter next, as each encounter varied wildly from the last. Unfortunately, as with many things in this game, the joy was severely diminished by the brief length of the game. Sure, I met a lovely cast of characters, but they were unable to interact with each other. Even though they were evenly distributed throughout the story well, it felt as though there was a lot more to uncover.
Overall, the story content detailed the minimum content for the story to make sense. Sometimes it does not even make sense, but that is okay. The story is simple but charming. It is no reason to pick up the game, but it adds considerably to the atmosphere of the game.
An Apple a Day
What I was looking forward to most in Apple Slash was the gameplay. After watching the trailer, I was captivated by the various abilities, enemies, and swinging wildly at enemies. The combat looks amazing when watching the trailer. Unfortunately, when translated to the entire game, I was let down by how few abilities there are and how repetitive the game is. At the same time, I would have liked to see how the game would have changed if it were expanded into a longer title. It suffers considerably from being such a short game.
The place Apple Slash suffers the most is in the minute-to-minute gameplay. I slashed enemies with my sword and collected items on the ground to open my path. That was the entire gameplay loop. I did not make decisions about where to go, as there was only one path available. I did not need to learn complex enemy patterns, I did not struggle with enemies, and I did not die a single time throughout my journey. The combat quickly became repetitive because the enemies never got difficult.
Moreover, attacking in Apple Slash is bound to the ZR key. This is typical, and I had no issue with it. Holding down the key had the knight continue slashing. I really liked this addition because continuously pressing the trigger button is inconvenient and tedious. Unfortunately, this feature is seemingly useless because it is objectively better to press the attack button repeatedly. The character swings the sword faster when controlled manually. This meant that throughout nearly the entire game, I was pressing the ZR button and watching enemies get devastated by my flurries. The core gameplay loop was innately fun, but it was frustrating to need to keep pressing attack the entire time, especially considering how many enemies there were.
To add insult to injury, the enemies were extremely basic. They either damaged you with their body or shot a projectile that was easy to evade. I never was challenged by the enemies, and they never made me evaluate my game plan. Each time, I knew exactly what to do. Walk close to the enemy, and slash it with my sword. The enemy design in Apple Slash was disappointing.
Since the enemies did not require much skill to defeat, the unlockable upgrades to weaponry seemed useless. As I journeyed on, I encountered various upgrades to my base character. I could summon swords from the sky, shoot blades as projectiles, and use my sword like a boomerang. Unlocking these new upgrades are exciting and experimenting with these new features was the most enjoyable thing about the game.
As fun as these upgrades were, they did not matter much because all the enemies were already easy to defeat. As cool as it was to summon a massive sword from the sky, I only get excited about an ability when it is the reason I am able to surmount a challenge, or serves to unlock a new gameplay style that had not been accessible before. The upgrades themselves were interesting, but without challenging enemies to test them on or crucial moments that leave me looking for assistance, I did not find myself attached to them.
It is easy to summarize Apple Slash. I thought it would have served as an excellent first level in a much longer game. However, without additional challenge and purpose for me to proceed, the game fails to satisfy the audience. It needs much more content and challenge to be a truly enjoyable game.
Hold the Apple-ause
Even though the gameplay and story design were nothing special, the sound design was surprisingly charming. The soundtrack was upbeat and cheerful. It made for a great atmosphere as I senselessly murdered hundreds of enemies.
Likewise, the visuals were delightful as well. I liked the minimalistic colour choices and genuinely appreciate the red colour to differentiate from the black and white. The game features distinct enemies and allies plus the world looks pretty good as well. I did have some confusion differentiating between land and areas I could not walk on, but this was never a problem as clear boundaries were placed next to non-surface areas.
Overall, Apple Slash is a little underbaked. It has a great foundation, clear inspiration, and a lovely atmosphere. However, the lack of interesting or unique enemies as well as the short length diminished my overall experience with the title. I had a good time, but I cannot recommend it at the current price point. I think Apple Slash needs a few more minutes in the oven.
Rapid Reviews Rating
3 out of 5
You can purchase Apple Slash on the Nintendo eShop here
You can find and read our reviews on OpenCritic.