Inspired by the age that gave birth to the original Sony Walkman, some of the greatest action movies known to man and of course the original Nintendo (NES), Garage unleashes hell on the Nintendo Switch. This top-down shooter, developed by tinyBuild and Zombie Dynamics, follows the story of drug dealer Butch, who awakens to find himself trapped in the boot of a car that has been abandoned in a parking lot. If things weren’t already confusing for Butch, he also finds himself surrounded by blood, flaming cars, blood, the undead, blood, giant rats and yes you guessed it, more blood.
As Butch awakens he makes his way through various levels of the Garage and starts to uncover what is exactly going on, slowly finding medkits, food and new weapons along the way, Medkits and food have the same effect, they both heal Butch to ensure he doesn’t die, although food does it instantly whereas medkits can be stored and used as and when needed, and you will find yourself in need of them a lot. Don’t worry though, as even if you are swarmed by a horde of the undead and left staring at them eating your corpse, checkpoints come quite often meaning you never have to travel back in time too far and can usually carry on moments before you left the Earth plane.
As for weapons, you start off with nothing more than your fists and feet, which luckily is enough to deal with the trouble around until you are able to make a fire axe, which certainly makes killing things easier, and a little messier too. You then unlock new weapons and ammunition as you progress through the game, and they just get bigger and better and cause a tonne more carnage. A word of advice though, you should use weapons with ammunition wisely because there is nothing worse than facing an army of the undead when you’re ill-prepared.
Another thing you’ll find as you make your way through the Garage are pills, something you’d think Butch would know a lot about being a dealer. But these pills are something else, and send you into a state that allows you to hear where there holes in the walls. Be careful though, as the walls can contain nasty surprises when you knock through to them. Also if you suffer from epilepsy you may want to avoid the game at this point and get someone to take your place as taking drugs not only lets you hear holes in the walls, it also turns the screen an 80s psychedelic pink/green colour that may trigger a fit.
When it comes to the actual gameplay, Garage does a good job of capturing the 80s vibe, but it also falters somewhat. I was often left irritated and wanting to smash my controller into the ground trying to line up my attacks, only failing to hit my enemy or stamp on a rat despite my joystick pointing directly where they stood. This lead to me dying many, many times, especially when I was trapped in small confined spaces. Likewise, the dodge ability that is designed to help you evade zombies also seemed flawed, often getting myself stuck or caught on enemies rather than dodging them. I found it much easier to just swing my axe uncontrollably at anything that moved toward me, with th eonly time dodge coming in handy being against the game’s bosses.
The gameplay mechanics did improve when it came to line-of-sight though as you could only see what is in the room you’re located in, so if you kick a door through and see a swarm approach, they’ll disappear if you escape to a different room, and will only reappear once they get through the door. This helps build tension as you’re not fully aware of how many attackers are coming or at which angle they’ll come from, but after a while, you can predict enemy movements a little so the game does become easier in that sense. And if I’m honest, as long as you have enough ammo and space behind you, you can keep retreating and firing a wall of bullets in front of you to leave the floor covered in a bloody mess.
As for the rest of the game, which is essentially graphics and sound, Garage gets this bang on the money. The art style is so well designed, that you’d swear down that you were playing this on an 80s console. Everything from the colour scheme to the pixelated items just really captures that 80s persona, and with the music layered on top, you’d swear you were inside an 80s B-movie. The dreary tones really set the mood and create an atmosphere that reminded me of horror classics like Night of the Living Dead, ideal for a game of Garage’s genre.
Garage certainly delivers on the nostalgia front, however, it does have its flaws and they really did drive me crazy when trying to play, not so much the dodge as I didn’t really use it apart from on the odd boss battle, but the aiming always seemed to be off and nothing is worse than dying when you feel cheated by the game. It was almost like being a kid again when you’d accuse the computer of cheating when really it was just me being terrible. That said, it is still certainly one of the better twin-stick shooters I have played in recent years, maybe even the best I’ve tucked into on the Switch.
- Certain to give anyone who grew up in the 80s a nostalgia trip with its retro-styled graphics and gameplay;
- Game chapters can be completed quite quickly, but you can drag out game time by investigating your surroundings;
- Mechanics can be somewhat temperamental and cause you do die through no fault of your own;
- Whilst providing some solid twin-stick shooter fun, it doesn’t quite leave the taste buds wanting more.
Garage is a single-player top-down shooter that was developed by the teams at tinyBuild and Zombie Dynamics and was released on Nintendo Switch on May 10th 2018. If you’re looking for more games to bulk out your Switch library, why not check out another of our reviews on another newly released Switch title HERE.