[Review] Collapsed – Nintendo Switch

Written by Joachim Ziebs
  • Developer: Glaive Games
  • Publisher: OverGamez
  • Release Date: 29/08/2020
  • Price: £13.49 / $15.00
  • Review code provided by:
  • Version reviewed: 1.0.1

Introducing: Collapsed Switch Review

I normally stay away from rogues and rogue-lites. Dying over and over again to infinitesimally progress through a story is not really my kind of fun. It bores and frustrates me rather quickly and I get distracted by other games. So, I might not be the best choice to try out a 2D action platformer rogue-lite. Let’s see if Collapsed can finally win me over to this genre.

In Collapsed, aliens have invaded our solar system and devastated the earth. You don’t know why nor how, but you are our only hope. Choose one of four characters: Reaper, Devourer, Warrior or Pest–each one with different skills and benefits–and use your ranged and melee weapons to bring light into the darkness and clear up the mystery of the alien infestation.

It’s a rogue, but it’s a lite one, baby!

After a brief tutorial teaching you the controls, you find yourself in the memory void. You have some limited storage space here as well as the ability to unlock abilities in your skill tree. The only other option is to start fighting.

What’s a run like, you ask? Well, you start in the first level of a random location. Those differ greatly in terms of surroundings, light/darkness and type of enemies. You might end up in the Wilds, City Ruins or Gear Facility among others. Apart from hordes of enemies, you’ll find lootboxes and three portals. One of them will lead you to the next level, the other two will drop loot like one of the lootboxes: HP, ammunition, modules to modify your gear or nether shards and anomaly matter which you’ll need for crafting and unlocking abilities in your skill tree.

Defend all the enemies and open all portals to find the right one. Then go through it and enter level two. The general location is still the same, but the enemies are stronger now. Find the right portal once more and you’ll face a boss. Those are trickier and harder to kill, but persevere here and two portals become available. Both show you the next boss that lies beyond them. Enter one and you’ll find yourself in level four, but at a different location.
As you can see, the general flow of the game is two levels of portal opening followed by a boss fight. The difficulty increases with each level, but so is the quality of the modules you’ll obtain. Don’t like what you find? No problem, as in some levels you can can craft three unwanted modules into one you need.
You’ll also find memory nodes in some levels which explain parts of the backstory. The more of them you find, the more knowledge you gather.

Is that a skill tree or are you just happy to see me?

Collapsed offers you a ton of customization options. Apart from the three modules you can each add to your armour, ranged and melee weapon, you can add modules for two different special abilities. (You’ll have to find or craft them before you can equip them, though.)
Then there is the vast skill tree with which you can fine-tune the gameplay to your liking. Keep in mind that you’ll need to spend nether shards and other resources to unlock abilities and crafting options. They aren’t cheap, so you’ll have to grind a lot. But because of the nature of the game, dying and grinding is part of the fun here.

And it really is fun! The procedurally generated levels are different on every run. The variety of enemies keeps combat fresh as do the natural hazards present in the levels. They range from spikes and thorns (in the Wilds) to moving orbs (in the Gear Facility), for example. You have to keep on your toes to survive. If you don’t, there’s always another run. Collapsed is a rogue-lite, so you keep your stuff when you’re resurrected.

The further you get, the better the loot!

The 2D art is well done. It’s colourful and well animated. The different locations are beautiful and pleasing to the beholder. Music and sound effects chime in fittingly and turn Collapsed into a pleasing experience. ‘Nuff said.

The cycle was interrupted!

Collapsed plays well both handheld and docked. There are some framedrops when a lot of enemies are on screen and fire at you, but they’re no real annoyance. However, the small font used for skill tree and module descriptions is another matter entirely. It’s OK docked, but atrocious playing handheld. I might be getting old, but I’m still too young to use an on-screen magnifier!

There was one other thing that messed with me. The levels in the game are procedurally generated, so no two levels are the same. Normally, you developers make sure that you start in a safe spot and for example between enemies or in a wall. Well, the latter happened to me during one of my runs. And because I couldn’t move anywhere, kill myself nor be killed by anyone, I had to reset the game and lose all the progress I made during that run. That’s terribly annoying!

Conclusion

Collapsed is addictive. It’s easy to learn, but hard to master. The skill tree is well thought out and cleverly forces you to invest your time. And best of all, you can both play a single run on your short commute as well as pass the time on a transatlantic fight and be completely entertained.

PROS

  • unlimited replayability (it’s a rogue-lite, remember?)
  • tight and responsive controls
  • adapts to your favourite play-style (modules and skill tree)

CONS

  • very harsh in the beginning (it’s a rogue-lite, remember?)
  • small font is barely readable in handheld play

Verdict
Rogue-lites might not be my favourite genre, but Collapsed is a game I can wholeheartedly recommend!

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