Review #039: Varion (Nintendo Switch)
Reviewed By: Frank W.
Published By: LIGHTMAZE
Developed By: Rundisc
Category: Action, Arcade, Party, Multiplayer
Release Date: 11.08.2018
Download Varion from the Nintendo eShop here.
Leave It to the Pros
Varion is a game that challenged me to change the way I thought of multiplayer twin-stick shooters, and that is in no way a bad thing. I tackled this game initially by inviting a few friends over, having a few beers and then going at it in this crazy neon-lit deathmatch adventure! Varion is the following: A) A game meant to be enjoyed with three other people; and B) A game meant to be played with either a Pro Controller, or a Joy-Con Grip.
Varion is a four-player multiplayer game in which each player selects a tank-like unit, all of which have varying stats for things like bullet speed and movement speed. After choosing your tank and arena, you are transported to a neon-lit playground of walls placed in seemingly random places, along with stage hazards littered around among it.
The placement of walls feels random, but it is essential to the game’s most defining trait; You cannot just shoot an enemy to kill them. No, that would be too easy. In Varion, you and your friends will jump from your seats as you send a shot careening across the map at a wall, only to have it bounce, hit a wall once more, and your friend (who previously thought he was safely tucked away in a corner) is suddenly vaporized into the air and waiting on a respawn timer. That's right, only bounce shots will score you a kill in Varion, and trust me, this small difference fundamentally changes the way you have to tackle this game!
It’s Probably Easier Without The Beers
When we first started playing the game, we all fumbled about as we insisted on shooting at each other out of habit from decades of playing shooter games. But then it started to happen. One player got it, and started to dominate, then another unseated her, and they started being close in score every match. Then another, and another. Suddenly, we were all sharp shooting machines. We were putting the pool sharks of yore to shame with our bounce-shot prowess, sending shots all around an intricate landscape, only to be rewarded with an explosion of neon lines flying into the air.
Just Keep Moving
The bouncing bullets are not the only mechanic, but the two main combat mechanics are tied to the game’s resource management, which is your ammo. Each character holds three shots, which are depleted by any action other than movement. Ammo replenishes itself when you are moving, and the speed at which it comes back is determined by the reload stat of the tank you selected before the match.
Now we’ve gone over the shooting, but there is another action tied to your ammo, as well as to your direct counter to a sharp shooting opponent. Upon clicking the left trigger and holding a direction, you will quickly dash in the direction you are pressing, spending one ammo to do so. Now, this is great to get out of the way in a tight situation, but when you use this defensive technique on an offensive way… very fun things happen. The dash possesses the unique ability to bounce back bullets that you run into, sending it back at your attacker! This is a great way to catch someone off guard, as well as move yourself into a position in which you can attack them better. Your best spot to be is in a nice corner where you know you can get shots into a populated area, while having a few good spots in which to dash to quickly reposition your attack angle.
Once The Neon Dust Settles…
This game was WAY more fun than I thought it was going to be, which led to a very fun night with friends. I am sure it will enter my rotation of Switch games that I bring out when friends come over. Be warned however, if you are forced to play this with a single Joy-Con, you will have some complaints. Varion is designed to be a twin-stick shooter, but still has the option to use a Joy-Con. It just… does not feel right. If you don’t already have one, I can’t recommend enough that you get an official Nintendo Pro Controller for Switch. You will thank me later!
There is a good amount of stages that all offer different designs and hazards, as well as lots of various power ups that spawn during matches to help push the match in your favor. All in all, this game is fast-paced fun, and once you “get” it, it leads to some seriously crazy matches that will have you strategizing in a way you haven't before!
I bounced around a little bit thinking about what score I’d give this game, but I landed on one number in the end. An extremely solid 7 out of 10 is how Varion has me feeling. Inventive gameplay and a fun aesthetic lead to a game you will find yourself picking up again and again! Give it a try today!
Final Score: 7/10
Download Varion from the Nintendo eShop here.
*Review Code Provided by LIGHTMAZE