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The Messenger – Nintendo Switch

Reading Time: 5 minutes

Title:  The Messenger
Developer:  Sabotage
Publisher:  Devolver Digital
Genre:  Action, Adventure, Arcade, Platformer
Platform:  Nintendo Switch
Age Rating:  7
Release Date:  30/08/2018
Price:  £17.99.  I was very kindly provided with a review code for this game.

What the Developers say:

Dynamic, acrobatic gameplay and ultra tight controls worthy of an epic ninja adventure.
Character upgrades, new abilities, hidden levels, and branching paths to discover.
Meticulously designed 8-bit and 16-bit sprites, animations, and backgrounds in the spirit of the classics.
A memorable cast of offbeat villains, bosses, and associates.
Original soundtrack by renowned chiptune composer Rainbowdragoneyes, handmade using Famitracker.

I don’t usually enjoy these sorts of platformer games at all.  I’m generally too impatient to spot the typically obvious patterns, to complete levels and defeat bosses.  I certainly would’ve given up after dying so many times. Much to my surprise, I loved this one!  The Messenger is developer Sabotage’s first game on the Nintendo Switch, and what a game it is!  I was transported back to my childhood and the days of the SNES.

The Messenger Rapid Review

Who is the Western Hero?

The game begins with a cutscene that introduces the story.  Your clan are the sole survivors of a deadly attack by the Demon Army.  You live in fear of a new attack – yet there is hope.  Hope in the form of a mysterious hero known as ‘The Western Hero’.

Your character is a young, cocky ninja who doesn’t see the point of his Ninja training.  He seems disillusioned with events and has given up hope of being rescued by the Western Hero.  He turns up to his history lesson late, again!  Then things take a turn for the worse.  The Demon attacks, destroying everything in its path.  You are the sole survivor.  Bravely (or stupidly), you step forward.

Then, just in time, you hear an eagle’s cry in the distance…  Could it be?  Yes, the Western Hero!  He launches an attack at the Demon.  The Demon retreats, swearing that he will be back for vengeance.  The Western Hero then gives you a scroll, hence ‘The Messenger’.

The Hero of the hour!
It’s going to be quite the adventure.

The writing in the game and the sense of humour had me creased up at times – the shopkeeper is great!  I spent almost 10 minutes trying to get into his cabinet to see how he would react.   I also spent even more time listening to his stories.  My favourite was the one about the man who couldn’t read (you’ll see what I mean when you get there!).

The charismatic shopkeeper!

The game certainly doesn’t take itself too seriously.  In fact, it downright makes fun of the genre at times.  This usually takes the form of a sarcastic line by the Shopkeeper.

His one-liners will bring a smile to your face.

Some of the dialogue between characters is also very funny.

I’m not sure who’s in charge here!

While I’m on the subject of the shop, it is here that you can buy upgrades for your abilities.  Light shards are the currency here.  You can collect them by killing your enemies.  A faster way to obtain them is to find a giant shard.

Now that’s what I call a shard!
Upgrade tree

Some of the items are given to you, to progress through the game.  My favourite was the wing-suit.

Each level provides different challenges which makes it a rewarding experience.  Levels include a variety of enemy creatures, moving platforms, falling objects, spikes (oh so many spikes!) and pits.

Moments like this are super satisfying!

You certainly feel like you’ve accomplished something when you get to defeat an end boss.  I was stuck on a particularly annoying end boss, called The Fallen.  Looking back though, it was my fault.  I didn’t have the patience to spot the pretty obvious pattern of attack.  Once I worked this out, I managed to beat the boss pretty quickly.
Here I am, fighting the Demon Gruffalo!

The game also offers something for completionists.  There are hidden areas of the levels which you can find.  I managed to find a couple, which added to the enjoyment of the game.  Finding all power seals allows you to open the mystery chest inside the shop.  Sadly, I won’t have the skill to achieve this objective, so I’ll be relying on my fellow gamers to tell me what is hidden inside.

Power shards
I’ll never be able to open this chest!

Quit it Quarble?

I’ve seen some people commenting that they found Quarble annoying.  I, on the other hand, think that he is a legend!  The little one-eyed flying demon, has many funny quips about you dying, and he keeps a tally of how many times you’ve died, and how many light shards he’s collected as a death tax.

It was certainly a new experience to be mocked by an NPC for dying! Although, in some ways, it took away the stress of dying because I was looking forward to what witty line he had to say about my unfortunate ending.  Thankfully, there was an upgrade in the shop to half his fine.

I actually would have liked it if I could have seen more of Quarble.  He/It could have been my companion throughout the game, helping me to complete the levels, other than just appearing when I died.

In conclusion

For me, this is the perfect game for its genre.  The balance of challenge and accessibility, humour and competitiveness, makes this is must play.  The 8-bit and 16-bit graphics are a perfect nod to games of much-loved past generations, and the soundtrack is excellent.  My message is, buy this game!

Rapid Reviews Rating – 10/10 It’s a must have in my opinion!

Good luck on your journey to Autumn Hills.

The Messenger is available right now on the Nintendo eShop.  You can purchase the game by using the following link,

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