[Review] Genetic Disaster – Nintendo Switch

Written by Myles Jordan
  • Developer: Team8 Studio
  • Publisher: Drageus Games
  • Release Date: 29/05/2020
  • Price: £13.49 / $14.99
  • Review code provided by Drageus Games

INTRODUCING: GENETIC DISASTER SWITCH REVIEW

I’m not exactly well-versed with the roguelike genre, but even I am aware of the astounding success of titles like The Binding of Isaac and Risk Of Rain 2. Addictive games that have made names for themselves on PC, before finding an entirely different breed of success with the portability of the Nintendo Switch. But how does Genetic Disaster stack up? What does it do differently? Is it worth your coin? Guess you’d better keep reading to find out!

A GENETIC DISASTER?

If you’re looking for a riveting plot or a fun backstory to uncover and chip away at, you’re in the wrong place. Binding Of Isaac this is not. Genetic Disaster takes a pass on the story side in order to focus entirely on the gameplay. 

That’s not to say there isn’t any charm to the world or characters of Genetic Disaster, as you’ll no doubt get a great feel for the personality or flavour of the game by simply looking at it. There’s a definite cartoony, cheesy secret lab aesthetic going on and it lends itself well to some of the game mechanics you’ll come up against as you play. 

RNG CATASTROPHE

Following in the footsteps of greatness, Genetic Disaster is a twin-stick shooter’s take on the roguelike formula. This means you’ll be running through a randomised dungeon layout with your choice of 1 of 2 starting weapons. The masochistic joy of roguelike games is not knowing what you’re coming up against no matter how many times you play the game. Everything is routinely random and Genetic Disaster is no different in that regard. 

This has a bit of a marmite effect on the gameplay in the sense you’ll either love it or hate it. However, that’s not to say you have no control over your experience, because depending on which character you choose to play as, you’ll find a variety of different playstyles to experiment with. One of them may be a nimble but fragile fighter, where the other is a slower, bulky, defensive tank with more health. 

As you defeat enemies and uncover chests throughout the dungeon, you’ll also be able to upgrade your character with a variety of perks and mutations that can help make up for their shortcomings or focus your playstyle in a way you find enjoyable. Practice caution however, as some of these mutations may come with… undesirable side effects. But hey, the true fun lies in experimentation!

A COMPLIMENTARY CONCOCTION

Within seconds of hitting the start button, one thing becomes crystal clear. Genetic Disaster is a very well drawn game. You’re looking at a handcrafted cartoon art style in the same vein as Rayman Legends. Everything has that gorgeously shaded and fluid look to it that really bring the visuals to life. Characters bounce as they stride through the levels, the guns pop and contort as they fire at enemies. Things explode and create scorch marks on the floor that feel appropriately bombastic when paired with their respective sound effects.

The soundtrack is suitably zany and definitely sells you on that feeling of exploring a big creepy laboratory with danger lurking around every corner. The atmosphere is honestly one of the game’s strongest features. It’s a cartoon that you have control over and no matter how many times I see it in action, I’ll always have a soft spot for that animated indie feel. 

IT’S ALIVE… ON OTHER PLATFORMS

Genetic Disaster provides Switch owners with yet another fun foray into four player couch co-op, something that lends itself well to the Switch and has seen tremendous success with titles like New Super Mario Bros and Mario Kart 8 Deluxe. However, this has a knock on effect when playing portably. The top down perspective is zoomed out to accommodate four players at one time. This does not scale nor change to fit a solo session which results in a frustrating experience when playing alone in portable mode. 

Additionally, I found playing with the stock joy-cons to be somewhat lacking due to the smaller sized analogue sticks affecting my precision when aiming my weapons. This was immediately alleviated once I switched over to my pro controller, but this definitely feels like a missed opportunity as the joy-con are my typical go-to for a co-op session.

Furthermore, I found the Switch version of Genetic Disaster to be missing key features seen in other ports. The Steam and PS4 versions have online co-op that would be well met on the Switch given the current state of affairs we find ourselves in with many of us being isolated from our friends and co-op partners. This online co-op is nowhere to be found in the Switch version. A head scratching development to be sure, as the game is now 3 years old on other platforms where it also appears to be superior. 

A FIREWORK FINALE

Ultimately, Genetic Disaster is a fun enough romp for fans of its style and genre, but leaves me feeling somewhat underwhelmed in comparison to its fully-featured roguelike alumni that are already present on the Switch. I’d take a look at Dead Cells or Risk Of Rain 2 if you’re not a fan of the twin stick presentation.

Pros

  • Solid art direction
  • Satisfying perk system
  • 4 player local co-op

Cons

  • Missing features from other versions
  • Poor loading times

Verdict
Genetic Disaster is a fun enough take on the roguelike genre, especially with friends, but leaves Switch owners lacking with the objectively inferior port and a control scheme that refuses to adapt to it’s new hardware. 

Leave a Reply