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Ylands: Nintendo Switch Edition Review



 

Genre: Adventure/Survival/Strategy

Modes: Single Player

Developed and Published by: Bohemia Interactive

 Release Date: June 20th 2024

Platforms: Nintendo Switch

 

Ylands was first released for smartphones and PCs back in 2019. The game was available as early access in 2017, then the full game was released two years later. Five years later, Ylands is being ported to the Nintendo Switch. If you are looking for a game to scratch that survival-like itch you get from games like Terraria and Minecraft, I am sad to say that Ylands for the Nintendo Switch is not a game to spend your hard-earned money on. From unpleasant, grainy graphics to lackluster combat and many bugs, delayed button responses, and no real sense of purpose, Ylands for the Switch makes you want to shy away and turn to any other popular survival game.


The concept of a game being ported to a newer console is not unusual. Some of the greatest games ever made are available as ports on current-get systems. Resident Evil 4 is a great example. Releasing on the GameCube, it has been ported to almost every major home console since its release. Ylands sadly does not fit into that echelon. I have not played the original mobile game or the Steam port, but judging from the Nintendo Switch version, I do not wish to check out any other version.



The game begins with a correct selection screen, allowing you to pick between different hairstyles, body types, and gender. Unfortunately, the customisation options are minimal and it does not take long to notice the ugly character designs. Granted, this game was released as a mobile game and is marketed as having low-poly graphics, but the characters are very blurred and the graphics themselves are not charming at all. 


There are several ecosystems to trek through in Ylands, whether mountainous, jungle surroundings, or snowy peaks. The variety is certainly there, but the vast amount of texture popping and the inconsistent frame rate is also there. It’s certainly noticeable. The game tries its best to run at 30fps, but it often struggles to make it. For a mobile game, I can somewhat understand the performance issues. However, if you argue that the Nintendo Switch cannot run a graphically minimal title like this, I’m afraid I have to disagree. The Switch is powerful enough to run Super Mario Odyssey at 60fps, Tears of the Kingdom at 30fps, and past-generation games like BioShock and Dark Souls at 30fps. Why does Ylands struggle to maintain that frame rate, especially when the game is much less demanding than every game mentioned?



When it comes to the gameplay, it becomes very monotonous within a short window of time. The combat feels very lackluster and consists of mere swinging of whichever item or weapon you have crafted or scavenged. But combat is not where the game’s focus is, that is the crafting and exploration side of the game. I wish I could say things improved with the main gameplay mechanics, but I can not. 


The tedious nature of collecting different materials for a small commodity at the beginning of a game is not necessarily a bad sign. But when 90% of what the game has to offer is given to you within the first couple of hours of playtime, the sheer amount of time the game demands from you, in terms of crafting, is somewhat of a joke. In the first hour, I was tasked with collecting three different grass patches to make a rope, so far so good. But then the game instructs me to collect more grass patches because I need more, a mere 20 seconds after collecting the last batch. The game could have informed me of the materials required to make the correct quantity. The game could tell me everything I need to build one ship in full but instead decides to split the process in three by telling me which items to scavenge for one part. Then once you have built one part, you go back to scavenging more or less the same things you have already collected, but this time more of them. Then, for the final time, you have to build the final part of the ship and collect most of what you have already scavenged for. As far as I could see, most areas I collected supplies from had regenerated the things taken. After going in circles on a small island, I achieved nothing worthwhile.



Then, I figured my ship would be essential for exploration, traversing foreign islands, and reaping the rewards of what I could uncover. But I found that you can teleport to a nearby island rather than travel there in the ship that I had tediously and annoyingly spent time making. So what exactly is the point of the vessel? 


It feels like each island of the game acts as a miniature level. Think of Super Mario 64 in terms of structure. But where Mario 64 has islands with stars to collect and different secrets and areas that require precise platforming, Ylands suffers from having heavy controls that make traversing around islands exhausting and frustrating. The best thing I can compare the controls to is Crash Bandicoot on PS1. If you have played that game, Crash’s jump arc is floaty and heavy in tandem, making jumps harder than necessary to land. Crash Bandicoot was released in 1996, so as great as the game is, the controls have dated. Ylands is from 2017, so I cannot see any excuse for how the controls feel. Yes, it may be a mobile game, but that does not excuse the game from having such an unnatural jump and control scheme. Because you will spend most of your time traveling around areas, it kills the flow and enjoyment of the game for me.


VERDICT:

It is a sad truth and a hard pill to swallow, but Ylands for the Nintendo Switch is one of the worst ports of a game I have ever played. The heavy control scheme makes traversing across the maps more of a pain than it should be, the low-poly graphics I did not find charming in the slightest and this makes the character designs not appealing. Top this off with uninspired level design, lackluster combat, and inconsistent frame rates. This makes Ylands one of the most disappointing games released in 2024. Charging $37.49 for a mobile game on the Switch is also pretty dismal, even more so, when you realise that Ylands is FREE ON THE APP STORE!


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