[Review] Zero Strain – Nintendo Switch

Written by Kevin Orme
  • Developer: Kaio Meris
  • Publisher: Eastasiasoft
  • Price: £8.99 / $9.99
  • Release Date: 13/08/2020
  • Review Code Provided By Eastasiasoft

Introducing: Zero Strain Switch Review

I’m not sure if you know this, but there are a LOT of games on the Switch. Like… a lot a lot. It’s kind of hard to sift through all of it, but occasionally something looks interesting and worth your time, so you give it a try. See, that’s our job out here at Nintendad: We play the games you might be interested in to see if they’re worth your hard earned time and money. Sometimes, you get lucky and sometimes you stare at your screen and lament how much you paid for the experience you just went through.

Sifting through the immense library is some of the real fun about the eShop, honestly. It’s like window shopping in a regular store, but I have the comfort of doing it from my own home. Nobody is staring at me. No pressure to buy a magazine subscription or to buy something at all! So what did I find this time you ask?

Huh… let’s see what Zero Strain is all about.

Shooting the Night Away

Zero Strain starts with an ominous enemy simply called “The End”. It’s some world-ending monstrosity that we, the heroes of the story, are tasked with destroying. We do this through entering different stages inside of the big baddie and taking down “Mega Strains”, the big bosses inside of the EVEN BIGGER boss that you;re already dealing with. If that story is confusing, it’s best not to think too much about it. It’s alright, but nothing amazing. Really, it’s a solid vehicle for getting the gameplay going.

You play as a Catalyst, one of several ships you unlock throughout your game that specializes in shooting all manner of bullets and explosives to defeat the hordes of enemies as you delve lower and lower into “The End”. Each ship is equipped with a basic fire as well as three sub-weapons that charge as you play. The entire combat is based off of how MOBAs work: You attack a bit here and then hit them with the special attacks as they come. We’ll get more into that in a bit, but the concept is there.

Essentially, you take these little ships into an arena and blow everything up until there’s nothing left! As you go on you learn new tactics to deal with new threats and fight to survive. Couple that idea with additional bonuses for repeating levels with different ships and you get the main hook for Zero Strain.

Controlled Explosions

If I have one single gripe about this game, it’s easily how this game controls. In a game where I am constantly surrounded by enemies who are shooting me and I am supposed to return fire, I REALLY value accuracy and aiming. So why then I ask you would a game perfectly designed to have a twin-stick control scheme only use ONE STICK?! Your ship will automoatically lock on to the nearest target, which is fine I guess, but it would be so much better if I had the simplicity of a second stick to aim towards the targets I wanted to focus on. It’s kind of aggravating.

Other than that, things run really well for piloting the Catalysts through each stage. The buttons are well placed and you never feel like the ship isn’t moving like you’re asking it to. It’s not the controls that are entirely my frustrations with this game though. More of those issues lie in something I would like to call…

All Those Lights and Sounds

Zero Strain’s visuals aren’t bad per se, but it’s more of that feeling that the developers saw something that was fun and cool in small bursts and decided that they should pour that ingredient in abundance. This ingredient is particle effects and lighting effects. The action in this whole game is fairly zoomed out, so anything you can use to keep yourself oriented in the chaotic crossfire gets lost quickly and that’s not… you know… great. When you put those two things together it makes for a really crazy (and not in a good way) experience for the player.

The music is… fine. It’s not something I would ever go out of my way to listen to again. I can safely say it’s certainly what I expected out of a game with this price range. It’s fine. Better than OK, but not much better.

Operations On-line

As far as technical aspects of Zero Strain go, it works a bit better in docked mode (if for nothing else than getting a better view on things) and I would certainly recommend that. I never had any experiences with glitches or malfunctions in any of my several hours with the game. It runs like a good game should! It’s a shame that the rest of the game doesn’t feel as good as it runs. Really, it’s all kind of a missed opportunity in my book.

Mission Terminated

It’s frustrating, because I see what this game is trying to be. In the description on the eShop it says that the team was going for a combat style inspired off MOBA combat and I’m not sure they pulled it off as well as they could have. With the small addition of a second stick to aim rather than the “aim for whatever is closest” style of play, this game could have been pretty great. The idea of chargeable attacks was fun, but it wasn’t enough to get to want to play more. All-in-all it feels pretty unfocused on what could have been something great.

Pros

  • Special attacks look neat and charge quickly
  • Something is always happening on screen

Cons

  • The lack of a second stick to aim is kind of a buzzkill
  • It is very easy to lose track of what is happening

Verdict

Zero Strain took a leap in a different direction as compared to most other games in the shoot-’em-up genre, but it feels like it falls short and really ends up more frustrating than fun.

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