Review: Paranautical Activity (Nintendo Switch)

Reviewed by Daisy May, posted Jun 25, 2018
Jun 25, 2018
  • Release Date (NA): June 26, 2018
  • Release Date (EU): June 26, 2018
  • Publisher: Digerati Distribution
  • Developer: Digerati/Code Avarice
  • Genres: First-Person Shooter
  • ESRB Rating: Teen
  • PEGI Rating: Sixteen years and older
  • Also For: Computer, Nintendo Wii U, PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita, Xbox One
  • Single player
    Local Multiplayer
    Online Multiplayer
    Co-operative
Paranautical Activity is a simple first-person shooter with roguelite elements. It was originally released on Steam in 2014, and most recently the Wii U in 2016. Is it worth buying on Nintendo Switch?
Daisy May
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Before starting a game, you choose from one of several classes. You start off with 4 options, each with different weapon combinations. As you progress, you can unlock more classes, which helps to keep the game fresh. Unfortunately, some classes feel useless against certain enemies. For example, the ‘Tank’ class is slow and clunky, giving fast bosses the opportunity to tear you to shreds. My favourite classes to play were the ‘David Bowie’ class, which gives you a crossbow, and the ‘Bouncer’ class, which gives you a gun with projectiles that can ricochet around a room.

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Gameplay

Pranautical Activity starts you off in an empty room on the first floor. Instinctively, the player will head into other rooms and defeat the enemies. This quickly gives you an idea of what your objective is. Each floor is procedurally generated, which, theoretically, gives you a unique experience in every playthrough. That said, I quickly started to recognise each room format in every run, reducing the merit of this feature.

Enemies in Paranautical Activity spawn as you walk into each room. There are a small number of enemy designs, but there’s enough variety to keep it interesting. Upon defeating an enemy, they can drop power-ups, cash, bombs, or ammo. Ammo is used for your secondary weapon, while your primary weapon can fire forever. Cash is used to purchase items or weapons at shops, which can change your gameplay style.

Paranautical Activity does very little in explaining anything to the player. As much as I like discovering things for myself, I feel as if the game doesn’t go far enough to explain everything. There is no way to see what items or weapons do before purchasing them. I can appreciate this system, as it can push the player into trying new items in each playthrough. Upon purchase, the item is explained, and you can figure out what they do. Power-ups aren’t explained anywhere within the game itself. To find out what each power-up did, I had to look up guides online. Without the foreknowledge of what each item does, I sometimes found myself frustrated by spending large amounts on items that don’t benefit me.

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Each floor contains two boss enemies. These are marked on the map so that the player can prepare. To progress, the player must defeat the boss guarding the elevator. Unfortunately, most of these bosses feel uninspired and lazy. Only two bosses stood out to me; A necromancer and a giant octopus. The necromancer continuously revives Skeleton enemies, which defend him until they’re defeated. While the skeletons are up, the necromancer generates a shield to protect himself. The octopus boss slowly expands, forcing the player to avoid its twitching tentacles. These two unique bosses were the exception, though, and most boss enemies just follow you around the room whilst shooting projectiles.

Controls & Presentation


The controls for Paranautical Activity on Switch are decent at best. Playing with a Pro Controller, aiming was reliable, and I enjoyed myself. Playing with the Joy-Cons, however, is a chore. The less accurate analogue sticks make the game far more frustrating, forcing me to reduce my stick sensitivity. This could be improved with separate sensitivity sliders for docked and portable mode. An option to remap the controls wouldn’t go amiss either, to better fit the player’s preferences. Finally, a shooter on the Switch is never as good as it could be without motion control aiming. This feature would go far in making the game more enjoyable.

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The game runs flawlessly, as far as I can tell. Even further into the game, with several speed power-ups, I didn’t notice any performance problems. The graphics aren’t pretty, but they’re not offensively bad either. The visuals are crisp, with no aliasing to be seen on a 1080p screen. The sound design is thoroughly unpleasant. The music is loud and clumsy, and the sound effects are annoying. I ended up turning them both off. This isn’t a soundtrack I can imagine anyone enjoying.

Paranautical Activity Switch Launch Trailer

Verdict
Pros
+ Easy to pick-up gameplay
+ Runs flawlessly
+ A decent variety of enemy types
Cons
- Terrible music
- Mediocre graphics
- Poorly explained mechanics
- Lack of interesting boss enemies
4 Presentation
Paranautical Activity gets away with the bare minimum it can with graphics. Fortunately, though, the presentation is coherent, and it runs flawlessly.
6 Gameplay
Each weapon is unique, allowing the player to perfect multiple gameplay styles. Storming each room is fun, if repetitive. Unfortunately, the lack of motion controls or remapping options make me feel as if it could be a lot better.
4 Lasting Appeal
Despite the procedurally generated levels, the layouts of each room and floor get old fast. I can see myself playing Paranautical Activity every so often in the future, but only for short periods.
5.5
out of 10
Overall (not an average)
Overall, Paranautical Activity is a flawed experience. That said, it’s still a great deal of fun, and acts as a great timekiller. If you’re looking for a cheap game on Switch, there are better options, but Paranautical Activity certainly isn’t the worst.


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