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Squidlit (Switch) artwork

Squidlit (Switch) review

"Cute, quaint, brief, unfulfilling..."

Squidlit (Switch) image

I feel like a bully writing this mostly unenthusiastic review. You see, I recently played the cute, short platformer Squidlit, and I'm not all that impressed with it. Granted, parts of it are delightful and adorable, especially its tiny sprites and NPCs spouting innocent lines. However, beyond those high points, little of its content stands out. In a genre that's well past crowded, memorable material is practically necessary. At the same time, its brief campaign proves charming enough that I have a hard time telling that lovable cephalopod that his adventure was "just okay."

As with many modern 2D platformers, this one is a throwback game decked out with retro-style graphics. Its presentation features a lot of green and black, reminiscent of Game Boy fare. 8-bit-like pixels comprise all of the things you encounter, from your dinky foes to the squid village where you reside. Either you'll love the Game Boy aesthetic or you'll find it drab and tiresome after a while. Thankfully, this title doesn't even last thirty minutes, so you won't have time to be bothered by the bland palette.

If you've played even one side scroller, you know what to expect from this game. Most stages abide the "advance to the right while warding off monsters" standard. Some levels, though, also take you through winding pathways, dotting the area with the occasional trap or obstacle. Your enemies range from garden variety to downright wacky in design. Though you encounter plenty of vanilla ghosts and soldiers, you also run afoul of shark-caterpillar hybrids, flying books and slithering cyclopean critters that give the experience a much needed boost of creativity.

Squidlit (Switch) image

Now and then, you come across segments that require you to perform some specific actions before you can advance, usually seeking and killing off certain enemies. The best of these sections places you in a library, where you search for animate books that each perish with a drop of ink. The area you explore also isn't your standard level, and is decently convoluted without being overly elaborate.

Ink provides your only means of offense, which makes sense because you're a squid. However, you can't fire this stuff horizontally, and instead have to leap over your enemies and rain your black vengeance upon them. For most foes, one drop of ink means instant death, but others either pass out temporarily, become blind or simply don't react to it. As an added bonus, your shots give a aerial boost, keeping you airborne a little bit longer. This is a handy feature for reaching high platforms or crossing some lengthy gorges.

Mechanically, our eight-armed friend handles perfectly. He doesn't skid to a halt, easily stopping on dime. Even the control scheme is basic, providing you with only two buttons to utilize for jumping and shooting. With such intuitive play control, you can easily maneuver your way around any situation without much hassle.

Squidlit (Switch) image

And really, that's it. I've pretty much covered everything the game has to offer without going into gory detail. The trials you face are quite easily overcome, since most of your opponents die with little effort (even bosses) and the places you visit don't present you with steep challenges. You face neither mind-bending gauntlets full of danger and seemingly insurmountable odds, nor whole stages packed with intimidating hazards. Unless you're unfamiliar with the genre, you won't likely die very often. The game's simplicity is not in and of itself a problem, though. The main stumbling block is that Squidlit's chill difficulty rating combined with a brief campaign ensures you'll be done with it all too quickly.

Personally, I'm of two minds regarding the game's brevity. On one hand, the lack of content leaves something to be desired, especially since you're just getting a taste for the experience right as you cross the finish line. You only play through a few stages and defeat about four bosses, and suddenly the credits roll. Ultimately, you barely have time to savor the cuteness.

Squidlit (Switch) image

On the other hand, the campaign ends long before you can grow tired of it. Yeah, this platformer is your standard, vintage "love letter" game with plain graphics. However, you can finish it in fifteen minutes, even fewer if you try really hard. It's liberating not even spending an hour voyaging through the same retro tropes that we've been revisiting since Cave Story and Limbo came out.

I can't really say much negative about Squidlit, because I can't really say much about it at all. This straightforward adventure doesn't seek to occupy much of your time, offering the usual throwback material before going on its merry way. You're left with the rest of your day to get whatever tasks you need done, or play something else, or even restart the campaign if you please. However, nothing will be different when you re-enter that adorable little realm. You'll run through the same old stuff, jumping over enemies while spraying ink on them, easily passing over obstacles you encountered in your prior playthrough. It's nice that the umpteenth faux-retro game gets its job done efficiently, but its tiny speck of content ultimately leaves me not fully satisfied and wanting more.


JoeTheDestroyer's avatar
Staff review by Joseph Shaffer (February 16, 2020)

Rumor has it that Joe is not actually a man, but a machine that likes video games, horror movies, and long walks on the beach. His/Its first contribution to HonestGamers was a review of Breath of Fire III.

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Nightfire posted February 21, 2020:

Any game that offers less than 1 hour of entertainment should probably be free, in my opinion. The way you describe it, it almost sounds like a demo or proof-of-concept rather than a finished product.
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JoeTheDestroyer posted February 29, 2020:

I got the same impression from it. A full length sequel or something like that could actually work, and if it maintained the same mechanics, I'd be on board.

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