Reviews Featuring ‘SteamWorld Build’ & ‘A Highland Song’, Plus Today’s Releases and Sales – TouchArcade

Hello gentle readers, and welcome to the SwitchArcade Round-Up for December 18th, 2023. We’re kicking off the final week before Christmas with a few reviews, as I desperately try to clear my backlog before the end of the year. Today we’ve got evaluations of SteamWorld Build, A Highland Song, and While the Iron’s Hot. After that, we have some new releases to check out. A few decent platformer things and a couple not-so-good things. Then we have the usual lists of new and outgoing sales for you to consider. More than usual for a Monday in that new list. Let’s get to it!

Reviews & Mini-Views

SteamWorld Build ($29.99)

This is certainly an interesting turn for the SteamWorld series, but one that somehow manages to fit well. This series has been all over the place in terms of genres. We’ve had a tower defense game, a digging game with Metroidvania elements, a turn-based strategy game, a Metroidvania game with digging elements, and an RPG. And now with SteamWorld Build we have a city builder with digging elements. Sure, why not? It’s set in the same world as the other games, which can best be described as a mix of Steampunk Western and Steampunk Sci-Fi. You’re building your own robot mining town, while also exploring the underground for fortune and the answers to a mystery or two.

I think the SteamWorld games do a good job of being accessible and charming, and that’s exactly what you get here. Even if you don’t usually play city builders, you’ll find this one easy to get into. I also think the UI is quite well done for a console game, which is something a lot of games in this genre mess up when they make the hop to Switch. The tutorial walks you through everything you need to know, and you can skip it if you feel you don’t need it. The city building part of the game works very similarly to most other games in the genre, where you need to make use of your limited resources to try to keep your citizens happy along various parameters. As you go, you’ll unlock new types of buildings and what-not so that things are always staying fresh.

The underground part is an interesting twist. You’re basically having to dig out the mines to find materials and resources. But there are dangers down there, and you’ll need to build defenses to keep your workers safe. This ends up feeling like a cousin of the classic Dungeon Keeper, and that’s a peanut butter I’ll let into my chocolate any day of the week. The pacing is really nice in this game, and one thing always seems to lead into the next quite smoothly. There is an ultimate goal to the game, and it’s one you’ll get to almost inevitably in about ten hours. There are a few different types of maps you can play on, plus you can make the underground procedurally generate each time, adding a bit of replay value to the game.

SteamWorld Build is, like the other games in this series, a very friendly and well-paced game. I think that’s a double-edged blade, as veterans of the genre might find it all a bit too streamlined and deterministic. Still, the game is a really good time while it lasts, and I appreciate all the attempts to mix things up without losing the basic enjoyment this genre offers. The game plays really well on Switch, too. If you’re looking for a fun entry-level builder, you might want to give this a look.

SwitchArcade Score: 4/5

While the Iron’s Hot ($19.99)

I believe there to be a good idea at the core of While the Iron’s Hot. It’s an action-adventure game of sorts with a blacksmithing theme. It has really charming pixel art, and at first I really got into the way the game was progressing. There’s a pleasant mix of gameplay elements here, with a real attempt to keep things fresh by throwing some different mini-games and such at you. It almost has a puzzle-platformer vibe at times when you’re out gathering resources, and that’s something that could have been built on in interesting ways.

Unfortunately, I just found this game to get tiresome by a certain point. The story is one we’ve seen a million times before, the requests you have to fill for the NPCs just feel like an unending grind, and while the blacksmithing is fun it’s not really enough to carry the whole game on its back. Throw in a fair number of unpleasant bugs like randomly disappearing inventory items, and While the Iron’s Hot seems like it needed a bit more time in the fire.

SwitchArcade Score: 3/5

A Highland Song ($17.99)

It’s always comforting to see the inkle name on a game, because that is one publisher I know will never let me down. The visuals are going to be gorgeous, the soundtrack is going to be amazing, the writing is going to be excellent, and the gameplay will always be thoughtful even if it doesn’t fully click. A Highland Song is all of those things, and I’m happy to have it. At first I was expecting a good-looking narrative game, completely linear but a good enough ride that I wouldn’t care. But that’s not what A Highland Song is, really. Despite being a 2D affair, there’s a fair bit of exploration to this game and a lot of mysteries to uncover. While not exactly the same kind of thing, it gave me a lot of the same feelings that A Short Hike did.

You play as a girl named Moira who decides to run away from home after a letter from her uncle urges her to come to the lighthouse by the seaside where he lives. She sets off with only a few items in her backpack, determined to make her way across the highlands to see him. There’s a time limit in play, so you’ll not want to lollygag too much. At the same time, the path there isn’t as direct as you might initially expect. It branches at various points, and you’ll need to pick up hints and search out paths to find the best route. Some paths will only open after you solve puzzles, while others might require an item you could have found along your travels. You’ll come across little bits of lore and other points of interest, and can take in the view whenever you reach one of the many peaks of the Scottish Highlands.

Sometimes you’ll come across a deer, which results in Moira picking up speed and chasing after it. You’ll play a mini rhythm game of sorts as one of a selection of fine musical pieces plays. Successfully completing one of these will make Moira stronger, and they just feel good to play. But this isn’t simply a nice little outing. You’ll need to manage Moira’s health, stopping to rest when you can and sleep when you must. There’s a fair bit of rain that will make things a lot more miserable for Moira and might even prevent you from taking some paths.

You can’t just hunker down anywhere, either. You need to find proper shelter to sleep under unless you want to make things even worse. It’s possible you could get lost or wander around in circles, and once I found myself in a very tough situation due to Moira being exhausted and the way out being extremely treacherous. There’s a lot to see in A Highland Song, and not all of it will be along the optimal or easiest path. It is, nevertheless, worth seeing all of it. This is a case where the journey is the finest reward, and there are many different rewards awaiting those who poke around.

A Highland Song is another winner from inkle, and despite being a complete genre shift from 80 Days it has a lot of the same things going for it. It’s a beautiful game to be sure, and the writing is both meaningful and a pleasure to parse. But the gameplay itself uses what are fairly basic mechanics to create a surprisingly complex journey, one that offers so many secrets and branching paths that you’ll almost certainly want to play through it again the minute you arrive at the conclusion for the first time. A real joy, in every sense of the word.

SwitchArcade Score: 4.5/5

New Releases

The Monty Mole Collection ($6.99)

Well, it doesn’t get more British than this. You get emulated versions of the original trilogy of Gremlin’s Monty Mole games, plus two Monty-related bonuses in the form of Moley Christmas and Sam Stoat: Safebreaker. I can’t be 100% sure which versions of each game are here, but the smart money is on all of them being the Commodore 64 ones given the developer behind it. I suppose I’ll know once it unlocks for me. (Shaun of the Future here. It includes the Spectrum and C64 versions of all games where such options exist.)

Gates of the Mind ($14.99)

This doesn’t look like particularly fancy dining, but I like do like to give the benefit of the doubt with publishers that don’t ring a bell. Anyway, this is just a 2D platformer. Its main stand-out point is that the main character is a Canadian logger, and that’s certainly unusual. Not sure I’d gamble that fifteen bucks on Canuck power alone, but you do you.

Fireball Wizard ($9.99)

Well, I guess it’s one of those days. This is a rather modest-looking game, but it plays fairly well. You’re a wizard who needs to make their way through more than forty stages spread across four worlds. You get new abilities as you go and can upgrade your wizard’s powers. You might have played this one before on mobile, and if you haven’t you can always use that version to get a little taste of what you can expect. Decent five-dollar Switch platformer energy, but you know how inflation is recently.

The Bin Bunch

Tennis 2024 Simulator ($5.99)

Escape From The Island ($9.99)

Hentai Golf ($21.99)


(North American eShop, US Prices)

That is one mighty list for a Monday, friends. Lots of new low prices to consider, particularly on a few games that maybe cost a little too much for some at their regular prices. I’ll let you decide which games those are as you scan through the inbox. To counter the massive list of new sales, we only have one wrapping up. Easier to read!

Select New Sales

Jurassic Park Classic Games Collection ($26.99 from $29.99 until 1/2)
WorldWide FlightSimulator ($11.99 from $14.99 until 1/2)
Aireo FlightSimulator ($19.99 from $24.99 until 1/2)
Corpse Factory ($7.99 from $19.99 until 1/4)
Timelie ($3.99 from $19.99 until 1/4)
Monster Harvest ($3.99 from $19.99 until 1/4)
Spirit of the North ($4.99 from $24.99 until 1/4)
Aragami: Shadow Edition ($5.99 from $29.99 until 1/4)
Rogue Glitch Ultra ($9.59 from $11.99 until 1/5)
Blair Witch ($7.49 from $29.99 until 1/5)
Cloudpunk ($4.99 from $24.99 until 1/5)
Alex Kidd in Miracle World DX ($3.99 from $19.99 until 1/5)
Bramble: The Mountain King ($14.99 from $29.99 until 1/5)
No Place Like Home ($12.49 from $24.99 until 1/5)
Hirilun ($7.99 from $9.99 until 1/5)
Bulldozer Tycoon: Construction Simulator ($1.99 from $9.99 until 1/5)

Aragami 2 ($15.99 from $39.99 until 1/5)
Pumpkin Jack ($7.49 from $29.99 until 1/5)
Dr. Fetus’ Mean Meat Machine ($4.99 from $9.99 until 1/5)
Spells & Secrets ($20.99 from $29.99 until 1/5)
Cry Babies Magic Tears: The Big Game ($19.99 from $39.99 until 1/5)
Package Inc ($1.99 from $4.99 until 1/5)
Time on Frog Island ($6.24 from $24.99 until 1/5)
Necrosmith ($1.99 from $7.99 until 1/5)
Vaporum ($2.49 from $24.99 until 1/5)
Foreclosed ($2.99 from $19.99 until 1/5)
Deathrun TV ($2.24 from $14.99 until 1/5)
Buildings Have Feelings Too ($1.99 from $19.99 until 1/5)
UNBOX: Newbie’s Adventure ($2.99 from $29.99 until 1/5)
Bounty Battle ($2.49 from $24.99 until 1/5)
PAWfectly Designed ($1.99 from $19.99 until 1/5)

Morbid: The Seven Acolytes ($3.74 from $24.99 until 1/5)
Ping Pong Arcade ($3.74 from $14.99 until 1/5)
Slaycation Paradise ($3.99 from $19.99 until 1/5)
Truberbrook ($1.99 from $29.99 until 1/5)
FerroSlug ($2.26 from $5.67 until 1/5)
Bridge Constructor Ultimate ($1.99 from $14.99 until 1/5)
Bridge Constructor Portal ($1.99 from $14.99 until 1/5)
Super Mabus Mania ($3.15 from $7.89 until 1/5)
Nape Retroverse Collection ($2.79 from $6.99 until 1/5)
WarriOrb ($1.99 from $12.99 until 1/5)
Darker Skies ($2.69 from $17.99 until 1/5)
Rytmos ($6.00 from $15.00 until 1/5)
Fresh Start ($9.99 from $19.99 until 1/5)
Operation Wolf Returns: 1st Mission ($17.99 from $29.99 until 1/6)

Vernal Edge ($15.39 from $21.99 until 1/6)
Mari & Bayu: The Road Home ($10.19 from $16.99 until 1/6)
Healer’s Quest ($5.99 from $14.99 until 1/6)
Astrologaster ($3.99 from $9.99 until 1/6)
Skelittle: A Giant Party ($1.99 from $9.99 until 1/6)
Ashwalkers ($8.99 from $19.99 until 1/6)
Burly Men at Sea ($1.99 from $9.99 until 1/6)
Lost Phone Stories ($1.99 from $9.99 until 1/6)
Foretales ($13.99 from $19.99 until 1/6)
Pompom: The Great Space Rescue ($5.49 from $9.99 until 1/6)
Instant Sports Winter Games ($12.49 from $24.99 until 1/6)
Instant Sports Plus ($16.24 from $24.99 until 1/6)
Instant Sports Summer Games ($5.99 from $19.99 until 1/6)
Instant Sports ($4.49 from $14.99 until 1/6)
My Universe: My Baby Dragon ($11.99 from $29.99 until 1/6)

My Universe: Puppies & Kittens ($4.99 from $24.99 until 1/6)
Letters: A Written Adventure ($8.99 from $14.99 until 1/6)
Ruggnar ($8.39 from $13.99 until 1/6)
Gravity Circuit ($16.49 from $21.99 until 1/6)
Skabma: Snowfall ($18.74 from $24.99 until 1/6)
Abandon Ship ($9.99 from $24.99 until 1/6)
Elypse ($14.99 from $19.99 until 1/6)
Nocturnal ($13.99 from $19.99 until 1/6)
Ghost of a Tale ($8.74 from $24.99 until 1/6)
Linelight ($3.49 from $9.99 until 1/6)
Children of Zodiarcs ($3.59 from $17.99 until 1/6)
Before I Forget ($4.39 from $7.99 until 1/6)
They Always Run ($11.99 from $19.99 until 1/6)
Double Kick Heroes ($8.79 from $21.99 until 1/6)
Alba: A Wildlife Adventure ($6.99 from $19.99 until 1/6)

Revita ($11.89 from $16.99 until 1/6)
Out of Space: Couch Edition ($2.99 from $9.99 until 1/6)
Piczle Cross Adventure ($1.99 from $9.99 until 1/6)
PictoQuest ($1.99 from $9.99 until 1/6)
ScourgeBringer ($5.94 from $16.99 until 1/6)
Lethis: Path of Progress ($6.99 from $19.99 until 1/6)
Chroma Squad ($2.99 from $14.99 until 1/6)
Astria Ascending ($17.99 from $39.99 until 1/6)
The Dungeon of Naheulbeuk ($17.99 from $39.99 until 1/6)
Guild of Ascension ($7.64 from $16.99 until 1/6)
Cassiodora ($11.04 from $16.99 until 1/6)
Run: The World In-Between ($5.99 from $9.99 until 1/6)
Souldiers ($11.99 from $19.99 until 1/6)
Iris and the Giant ($5.24 from $14.99 until 1/6)
Scrap Riders ($7.99 from $19.99 until 1/6)

Old School Musical ($2.59 from $12.99 until 1/6)
Spirit of the Island ($19.99 from $24.99 until 1/6)
KnifeBoy Rebooted ($7.49 from $14.99 until 1/7)
Red Colony ($3.49 from $6.99 until 1/7)
Red Colony 2 ($3.49 from $6.99 until 1/7)
Red Colony 3 ($3.49 from $6.99 until 1/7)
Killer Frequency ($12.49 from $24.99 until 1/7)
Retro Revengers ($8.90 from $9.90 until 1/7)
Retro Mystery Club Vol.1: Ise-Shima Case ($8.90 from $9.90 until 1/7)
Menseki: Area Maze Search ($2.49 from $4.99 until 1/7)
Epic Chef ($2.49 from $24.99 until 1/7)
Crown Trick ($3.99 from $19.99 until 1/7)
King of Seas ($2.49 from $24.99 until 1/7)
Rogue Heroes: Ruins of Tasos ($1.99 from $19.99 until 1/7)
Neon Abyss ($4.99 from $19.99 until 1/7)
The Survivalists ($2.49 from $24.99 until 1/7)
Yooka-Laylee & the Impossible Lair ($2.99 from $29.99 until 1/7)
Monster Sanctuary ($3.99 from $19.99 until 1/7)

Sales Ending Tomorrow, December 19th

Retro Rollers Bundle ($2.99 from $9.99 until 12/19)

That’s all for today, friends. We’ll be back tomorrow with more reviews, more new releases, more sales, and perhaps some news. The weather has been all over the place lately, with some days I’d say have been nearly summer-like this month. Today, however, is quite chilly. I didn’t dress for it, so I’m the fool now. That’s how it goes sometimes. I hope you all have a magnificent Monday, and as always, thanks for reading!

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