I’m always impressed by one man’s plans. Developing games with a team is hard enough, so I can only imagine how challenging and exhausting it must be for a single developer to plan, design, build and test their own creation with little or no outside help. This is the case with Estranged: Departure. Released on Steam last year to respectable reviews, this game was developed over six years by one man, Alan Edwards. The game is now available on the Switch. Let’s see if he made a smooth transition to Nintendo’s handheld.

Overall, this game looks pretty good by the standards of the Switch. Too bad the recording is not as smooth.

Founded: The Departure is a first-person survival horror game about a fisherman who wakes up on a mysterious, but surprisingly industrial island after a shipwreck. He soon discovers that things have gotten out of hand due to initially unknown circumstances. It doesn’t take long before you meet your first enemy and realize that instead of a simple plot-driven adventure, you’re dealing with zombies and conspiracies.

Strange, mostly: The Departure plays like a traditional first-person adventure game with puzzle elements. It works better than the other solo project I recently reviewed, In Rays of the Light, because most of the puzzles are really inventive and the story. It’s not the most original thing in the world, but it’s told well, with a good pace and occasional details that hold your attention. However, some puzzles are frustrating, especially when based on the game’s poor physics.

Let’s just say these zombies aren’t very smart. ….

The controls are a little stiff when you’re just exploring the environment or working on the puzzle, but after a while you get used to it. The controls are far from perfect and the over-reliance on physical puzzles, as if this game thinks it’s Half-Life 2, is a problem. But since these sections are generally slow and harmless, they can be forgiven after a while. When it comes to combat units, whether in the main campaign or the unconventional CoD Zombies arcade mode, Estranged: The shipment failed. This whole part of the game feels like an afterthought, like a fight that was added at the last minute to mix things up a bit.

Don’t expect a long game. Keep in mind that Estranged is a solo project developed in one person’s spare time over the past few years. Considering how long the game is and that it has bonus modes like the aforementioned arcade mode and a shooting range, I’m surprised at how cheap it is. It only costs five dollars, or even less depending on which online store you use as your main storefront, and that’s money well spent, even if it has its share of technical problems in the game.

The unit is in horde mode. I still wonder why.

The graphics are impressive considering the weak hardware used. The textures are rich, the environments varied and well designed for the most part. Some sections even feature impressive lighting effects. Other areas, however, are the exact opposite, completely shrouded in senseless darkness to the point where you can’t see anything in front of you. You have a flashlight at your disposal, but unlike most survival horror games, its battery is limited, though not as obvious as in Outlast 2. The personnel department is certainly unstable, but that’s about it.

The one thing I didn’t expect from a solo project like Estranged: The finish is a great sounding section. With the exception of the poor voice acting (I’m sure the developer had friends read a few lines to them), the sound effects and occasional soundtrack are quite good. The guns are loud, the zombies roar in a terrifying way, and the chases are accompanied by musical loops that contribute to the overall atmosphere of tension.

Hello? Are you looking for me?

Founded: The game is hampered by a number of technical issues, especially with the controls and frame rate, but considering the material we’re talking about here and the fact that it was developed by one person, it’s ultimately a commendable game. The game’s story is a bit predictable and the combat sections are beyond bland, but all in all you’re only paying five bucks for a surprisingly durable first-person horror game that actually demands something from the Switch’s hardware. I have nothing but respect for the game and its developer, even if it is far from perfect.

It doesn’t work well, but given the limitations of the hardware, it’s pretty impressive at times. Textures are rich and environments are well modeled. The light is mixed: It looks good in some places, not too dark in others. The controls are a little slow when exploring, but you get used to that after a while. Solving riddles is mixed: Some puzzles are inventive, others are boring. The shooting mechanisms are clunky and not very effective.
The voice acting isn’t great, but the music and sound effects are quite decent. It’s a game that starts with good intentions and offers a staggering amount of value for money. It’s hampered by a lot of technical problems, but it’s good.
Last block : 6.5

Founded: Send is available now on PC and Switch.

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A copy of Alienated: Shipping was handled by the publisher.


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