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Who doesn’t sometime think about being a fictional supervillain? All the henchmen, the evil laughs, the heists, the plans to take over the world, and snazzy-looking villain outfits. Unfortunately, from my observation, you don’t have many games that give you that experience. Granted, so many games come out and let you do destructive things, but they always punish you for doing so. So, how does Nefarious stand out? Developed by Starblade Games and distributed by Digerati, this game got noticed on Kickstarter for its WayForward-style graphics and gimmick of being a supervillain. It was officially released back in January 2017, but got a console release in September of 2018. If anyone is curious, I played the Switch version for this review. Let’s dive in!
You play as Crow, a supervillain who wants to capture a bunch of princesses from different lands to power up his doomsday device to conquer the world. Along the way, he kidnaps the princesses, fights their individual heroes, but also ends up maybe not wanting to be a true supervillain. The story has its problems with wasted potential, but I did like the characters, and how they interacted off one another. It’s easy to see why this game got a following, because of its setting and characters.
Nefarious is a 2D platforming game. Throughout a majority of the game, you will be running, jumping, punching, and shooting your way around the different lands that include a secret lab, a Japanese demon world, Russia, and a typical Mega-Man-style city to name a few. Once you get to the princesses, and decide to kidnap them, most of them will give you certain platforming abilities. One princess will let you jump a bit higher, one princess will turn the platforming into an endless runner, and a prince will shoot long streams of smoke that you can use for temporary platforms. Every boss fight in the game is a certain tribute to old-school bosses that you faced in other platformers and games from the NES and Super Nintendo era. As you collect coins and gold, you can spend them on upgrades for your health, weapons, and your fist. I think that’s perfect, because every supervillain needs a good punch. Outside of that, the game will take you about four or so hours. The only major things to collect are records that you can play in your jukebox back on your ship. There is definitely enough variety in the levels you traverse, so it won’t get boring after one or two levels.
Graphically, it has the looks of a WayForward game like Shantae. The 2D art is cute, most of the characters are well animated, and I like the overall cartoony appeal. I think my favorite design throughout the entire game is Crow. He looks like a warped Warioware parody of Mega-Man. I bet even he would fit into the Wario universe. While I would argue the overall presentation is not as polished as something from WayForward, it still gives the game a personality and look of its own.
Now it’s time to break open the problems this game has. The controls felt very floaty. Like, I could move a lot, but I never thought I could make most jumps, and always fidgeted around while in midair. It leads to some inconsistent platforming that feels like it could use some polishing up. It also leads to me getting hit easily by enemies. I found the art to be inconsistent in quality. Some characters looked great, but some of the hero characters looked really sloppy-looking. I also wish they could have done full voice work. The sound characters make for dialogue sequences is really annoying. While the game’s difficulty is okay, and while it’s easy to get hit often by enemies due to hit box inconsistencies, the final boss is garbage. Now, I’m not talking about the main final boss that leads to you ruling the world, I’m talking about the good ending. Yes, this game has two different endings, and finding the good ending is a pain in the rear end. You have to go out of your way to find an obscure area that isn’t properly telegraphed to you, and then go through probably one of the worst final bosses of any indie game I have played. Heck, a couple of the boss fights are ruined by tedious design. There is one boss fight, where you pilot a very Dr. Eggman-style vehicle. You have to whack the hero with a spike ball attached to a chain that hangs from your ship, and you are not able to control that spike ball. It’s a neat concept, but like most of the boss fights in this game, the execution is lacking.
I really wanted to crown Nefarious one of the new kings of indie games. Sadly, its lack of real polish in gameplay, controls, graphics and horrible final boss for the good ending drags it down. If you ever want to check it out, wait for a sale, or with the Switch’s new game-sharing feature, do it that way. I can tell it has a fan base, because the comic from the creator of the game is a huge hit, and has a pretty good following. Maybe if they can make a sequel, they can improve upon it, or maybe a better developer can enhance this concept. Sadly, it once again shows how being a bad guy is not all that fulfilling.
This game gets a 5 out of 10.