SuperEpic: The Entertainment War — Nintendo Switch

Screenshot from SuperEpic: The Entertainment War

SuperEpic tells the tale of a not-too-distant dystopian future, in which a single video game corporation has prevailed over all others due to their addictive free-to-play business model. You play as one of the final remaining "old-school gamers" who's not yet been brain-washed by Regnantcorp: a raccoon, who relies on his trusty llama to get around. You could say that anthropomorphism is very much the name of the game - I'm not being rude when I say that Regnantcorp is run by "a bunch of pigs."

It's a harsh commentary on the state of video games in a world where you can often spend hundreds if not thousands of pounds on in-game items and extras. Fittingly, SuperEpic parodies these features with its own in-game currencies but thankfully doesn't go as far as to charge you real money, as coins are earned through defeating enemies and the more valuable gems are hidden in the game world's nooks and crannies.

These currencies can be spent on a number of weapons, upgrades and consumables, as you're never too far away from your next encounter with the merchant. It must be said, though, that the upgrade system and the numbers side of the game has more depth than the actual combat. The A, X and Y buttons each trigger a different attack - you have a primary attack, an uppercut, and a combo attack - yet in reality they all feel a bit too similar. For the most part, mashing the Y button will repeatedly trigger your opponent's damage animation and prevent them from counter-attacking, and thus promptly dispatching them. This can lead to some frustration, as enemies will always respawn whenever you leave and re-enter a particular area, so you'll often find yourself dealing with the same bunch of enemies over and over. They'll always drop the same amount of coins, so if you're a little shy of one particular upgrade, you can usually grind enough coins within a few minutes by exiting and re-entering a room with a lot of enemies.

With all that said, boss fights are a highlight and offer a genuine sense of grandeur whilst also requiring some thought to overcome them. They never put up too much of a challenge, but hark back to the "good ol' days" of your classic SNES-era boss fights, while remaining accessible to modern audiences.

The developer has coined SuperEpic as a Metroidvania, however I'd consider it to be more of an action platforming game with elements of exploration. The term "Metroidvania" suggests a hub world with branching paths and multiple routes - some of which you'll only be able to access once you've acquired a certain skill or power-up. SuperEpic is more linear than that, with most branches usually leading you to a dead-end, with little more than a gem and a bunch of coins as a reward for taking the time out. With that said, there's plenty of variety in Regnantcorp's headquarters and you'll be delighted by the upbeat soundtrack which fittingly adapts to each location as you romp through the game.

What makes SuperEpic unique is its mobile micro-games. You'll find various QR codes scattered throughout the game world, which link to the website when scanned with your phone's camera. The games are inspired by (read: straight clones of) mobile and retro games, such as Flappy Bird and the arcade game Puzzle Bobble. They are ultimately throwaway affairs, and you only need to attain a certain score from a single level to progress; doing so unlocks a hidden area which usually rewards you with a few coins and perhaps a gem. You can certainly live without if you're as opposed to free-to-play gaming as our protagonist is, but I personally enjoyed the distraction and it was a nice, albeit temporary, alternative to grinding more enemies for coins.

So the gameplay itself is admittedly nothing special, yet it holds up well enough and provides enough substance to ensure that SuperEpic remains entertaining for the duration, providing enough motivation to ensure that you'll see its story through to the end. The satire and shade thrown at video game corporations is as daft as it is witty, and never goes so far as to feel cringeworthy or distasteful.

7 / 10