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Game Review #105: At Sundown: Shots in the Dark (Nintendo Switch)

Reviewer: John B.

Developed By: Mild Beast Games Published By: Versus Evil Category: Arcade, Action, Party, Multiplayer Release Date: 01.22.19

Buy At Sundown: Shots in the Dark from the Nintendo eShop here.

Who doesn’t love a good multiplayer arena brawler? Certainly I do, but lord knows it’s a crowded market. Mild Beast Games wasn’t discouraged from stepping into the fray, however; they had a rather unique plan. At Sundown: Shots in the Dark is a top-down arena brawler mixed with stealth elements. How do you make a couch party game with stealth elements when all the players are looking at the same screen? Simple; hide the players’ avatars from everyone’s sight, including the players themselves.

Dueling in the Dark

At Sundown works like any arena shooter you’ve probably played before on a basic level. You move and aim with the left stick. Hitting the ZR button fires your main weapon, hitting the R button fires the weapon’s secondary action. You can run with the ZR button and dodge with the L button. Where it makes the genre its own is with the aforementioned stealth elements. You can’t really actively hide; there are lights on each level, and while your character is within range of a light they are visible to anyone on the field. If you leave a field of light, you become invisible to everyone - including yourself.

It’s a fairly interesting mechanic; you have to sort of guess where you are on the field at almost any time. Doing something to give away your position, like standing in the light or firing your weapon will draw enemies down on you. Running and/or dodging produces noise marked by a colored signal on the screen to check your position. If you lose track of where you think you are, you really don’t have much choice but to do something to give away your position. The good news? Your enemies have the same weakness… unless you’re practicing against bots. They seem to know where I am a little too well, although that may just be my suspicious nature combined with my near complete lack of skill.

All My Best Friends Are Bots

At Sundown has three play modes; local, online, and training. Local and online are basically the same thing, the only difference being whether you are playing on your couch with friends or online with friends/strangers. You can choose from any game mode you’ve unlocked, but pretty much every mode boils down to a deathmatch with certain restrictions. There’s also a king of the hill mode and other multiplayer shooter standbys, but for the most part you’re just going to run around killing everyone you can. If you can’t get four players together, you can fill the extra slots with bots – if you have no friends at all, you can just play single-player against bots. I mostly played that way for review purposes, not because I have no friends. That’s crazy.

Training mode is a handy little way to teach you the skills you’re going to use in the game. Every weapon you unlock has a normal and advanced training course to teach you how to use it, in addition to the movement training that is unlocked by default with the default weapons. Each level has a target time to earn a bronze, silver, or gold medal. Earning a medal nets you oodles of XP, which you need to unlock new weapons, stages, and game modes; you unlock one of those rewards every time you level up. You also get XP playing local and online whether you win or lose – but of course you get a whole lot more for winning.

Badasses Wear Black

At Sundown: Shots in the Dark is a good-looking game. The graphics aren’t the greatest you’ll ever see, but they take a very dark color palette and turn it into something visually interesting. Despite the overwhelmingly dark aesthetic required to create a game based around hiding in the shadows, the developers manage to inject a dash of color to the proceedings through various light sources in each stage. The designs of the four different characters are pretty cool, but given the lack of any storyline whatsoever one wonders why they bothered creating characters at all. From what I can tell it doesn’t affect gameplay at all, and you can’t really see the character models when you’re playing. Still, the designs look straight out of The Matrix, and the art style for their illustrations is cool, so we’ll call it a wash.

The game’s music leaves less of an impression. It’s a jazzy/funky electronic affair; it doesn’t really hurt the gameplay in any way, but it doesn’t enhance things either. It’s not a very intense soundtrack like you might expect from an action game, or the kind of reserved score you would expect from a stealth game. It leans a little more towards the latter, but the music doesn’t really do much to add to the game’s tension or atmosphere. Again, it doesn’t interfere either, but for a game that focuses so much of itself around a dark, moody aesthetic, it feels odd to have the music be the one area of the experience that doesn’t.

Take a Shot on At Sundown: Shots in the Dark

I normally prefer single-player games with a deep story, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t room for multiplayer games in my diet. At Sundown is a well-designed, smoothly-executed game that is perfect to just pick up and play whenever you’re bored. Jumping online or just gathering some friends on a couch is easy and the game is simple enough to understand that you can even play it with non-gamer friends if you want – if you even associate with such… people. It’s got a familiar type of gameplay with an original, unique mechanic in its stealth elements, and it’s definitely worth checking out.

Score: 8/10

Buy At Sundown: Shots in the Dark from the Nintendo eShop here.

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*Review Code Provided by Plan of Attack

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