Cycle 28 for the Nintendo Switch Review
In the beginning of the game, you get lost in space right away. At least I did as the heroine of the game, Olivia Bergen. Cycle 28 has no tutorial at all. You are left alone in your blue spaceship, surrounded by pitch black. The stars may shine bright, but the memory of Olivia doesn’t.
Speaking of “them” being here, the player is left clueless. And also is as “they” start to attack. Who they are? Well, that is for Bergen and you to find out.
The mysterious story of whom Olivia is talking about and the clouded memory of hers is something that caught my interest. Since Cycle 28 can only be put in the genre of an arcade space shooter, delivering a story through text with almost zero visual elements can be tough. A brave attempt to add a background here, even though it would also work on its own.
Coming to the controls, those in Cycle 28 are very simple. The little spaceship can be controlled via boosting it. Of course, you can rotate it as well. Two arrows on the screen indicate the location of your enemies, acting as some sort of a map through the Milky-Way, if you ask me. No brakes on your ship makes it often hard to control, especially if you are playing it for the first couple of times. Cycle 28 is meant to be played like this though. You are constantly trying to beat your score and get upgrades out of a total of 10 for your ship. These will come in handy and are necessary, like air to a living creature. Some are more useful than others, so find yours that fits you best because you will die, a whole freaking lot.
Starting each run will start a countdown and it will run down. Depending on how long you survive, it will summon bigger and more powerful ships against you. Here comes the problem: you can trick the game by getting low “high scores” and rush to the game’s end at full speed with all upgrades unlocked. You should be rewarded for playing good, not to find a flaw in the system. The other issue I discovered while playing was that earning points is not optimized. You cannot gain points by chaining taking down foes or avoiding their fire because you cannot multiply your score. Powerful and bigger drones barely are worth the effort of destroying when you look at the points you gain. Taking them down is not as satisfying as it should be because of this. Instead, I felt the more smaller carriers that you destroy, the better. Thankfully, you can catch a break to gain back some health by avoiding enemy fire, but that broke up the flight through space quite a bit.
Speaking of stars and space, you are not left in complete tranquility. The good catchy tunes by Jordan Rees underline the space theme very well. The soundtrack lacks variation on the long run though. Sound effects are on point, especially when you are in danger and close to destruction. A constant tone will indicate your health bar in a transparent way and gets the uneasy feeling to be careful perfectly. It reminded me of heated battles where your beloved Pokémon was almost sent back into its Pokéball.
I am currently trapped in Cycle 27 (Even though it’s called Cycle 28, I know) and I have the feeling I am ice skating instead of flying through the universe. Since I have never been to space, I have no idea if that is actually the case, but honestly… I did not like it. Since there is a lack of brakes or any way to stop, you float through air longer than you intend to. Some people might find it challenging but I disliked this. It reminded me of my first encounter with levels in platforming games covered in ice. Fighting back against enemy ships to gather points and to smash your current playthrough was way more flimsy thanks to that.
The loading time was short and performance never stumbled which helped the experience to be a little better. Dying over and over to come further in a game is somehow a critical aspect for me. Except for platformer, this aspect does not tickle me too much. Cycle 28 is definitely the better choice to play on the Switch instead of a PC. Although, it was not enough to fire up my interest to see the ending of this game. For some people, this might be a great title to play, but I sadly cannot recommend it to anyone but fans of this genre.
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Review by Jennifer (LadySugarcube) and reviewed on the Nintendo Switch. Game provided by PillBug Interactive.