In our world of triple-A sandbox experiences, ultra high-budget shooters and monetised microtransactions, it can be easy to lose sight of exactly what a video game should be. Although we mean no shade against wonderful games like The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt and Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain, we often find ourselves wanting something a little more stripped-back, something which appeals to the part of our brain that demands instant gratification.
That part is usually well-served by smaller, more manageable indie projects. Whether it’s the gravity-hopping shenanigans of “platformer” VVVVVVor the high-octane hijinx of Dustforce, we naturally gravitate (ha ha) towards the projects that inspire that kind of visceral excitement in us and are,plainly speaking, just enjoyable. We’re forever on the lookout for these kinds of games, so when one crosses our path we make sure to apprehend it for further examination.
One such game is Serius Games’ G-Switch 3, which immediately begins with brownie points due to the superlative quality of the previous two instalments in the series. Serius Games’ previous ventures include the excellent Freeway Fury 3 and the retro-inspired N-Dimensions, as well as the aforementioned G-Switch series, so theirs is a strong pedigree indeed. We might as well spoil the conclusion of this review now: G-Switch 3 is a very good game, and if you’re at all inclined to play it (which you should be), we strongly recommend you check it out here before reading on.
For those who still need convincing, G-Switch 3 is a 2D platformer which takes a novel mechanic at its centre and bases its entire challenge around that mechanic. If you’ve ever played the aforementioned VVVVVV and/or Dustforce, which this game is largely reminiscent of, then you’ll know what sort of ballpark you’re in. G-Switch 3 is a platformer, but it doesn’t have a jump button. Instead, the Space key (which is your only method of control)switches your character’s orientation, moving you from the floor to the ceiling or the walls.
Things start out gently enough, with the game’s organic tutorial introducing players to the concepts in a nice, straightforward fashion. It doesn’t take long for the challenge to ramp up; before long you’ll be bouncing around the walls and ceiling to avoid death traps and stop yourself from falling into the lifeless void beyond the level geometry. G-Switch 3 represents the best kind of difficulty curve; it’s an easy-to-learn, hard-to-master joy that feels responsive and fun even when it’s testing your patience.
Hazards take many and varied forms in G-Switch 3. Sometimes they’re spike traps which will instantly murder you if you touch them, while at other times they’re simply obstructions that need to be surmounted lest you get squashed between said obstruction and the ever-encroaching left side of the screen. The variation means no two “stages” (the game is technically a continuous level, but individual stages are broken up by goal gates) feel the same; the challenge in each one is different enough to hold your interest and keep your skills feeling sharp.
There are other things to enjoy about the G-Switch 3 experience beyond its central gameplay loop, although they do feel ancillary compared to the main mode. In “Endless” mode, you can (you guessed it) play G-Switch 3until you die; the aim is to rack up a high score and attempt to beat your previous record, so this isn’t a mode for the completionists, more one for those who love the central loop and just want to experience it on repeat. The Multiplayer mode, meanwhile, is perfect for those who want to introduce the game to a friend and experience it with them. Neither of these modes will set the world on fire, but they’re both excellent additions in their own right, as are the unlockable characters which add a nice aesthetic spin.
In the end, though, G-Switch 3 is a game that lives and dies on its immensely satisfying core gameplay loop. It’s a game that knows what it excels at and works on fine-tuning that, honing its mechanics until they’re razor-sharp. Switching between surfaces in G-Switch 3 feels great and consistently rewarding, so you’ll always relish the chance to get stuck in to a proper play session. It isn’t for everyone; its mixture of auto-running movement,gravity-bending platforming and actually rather high difficulty won’t appeal to the more casual gamer or those with little patience. Those with the wherewithal to enjoy the game’s mechanics and withstand its difficulty will find an extremely compelling and intriguing game that never lets up but never feels unfair. If you’ve got a lunch break or two spare, you could do a heck of a lot worse than spending those breaks playing G-Shift 3, so buckle up and prepare yourself for a thrill ride.