Nuclien (Nintendo Switch) Review

By Renan Fontes 13.01.2018

Review for Nuclien on Nintendo Switch

It's easy to forget the Nintendo Switch actually has a touch screen, since so few games actually take advantage of the feature that it feels more like a holdover from the Wii U than anything else. It doesn't detract from the console in any way, so it's possible to cite it as a negative, but its lack of prominence is a bit odd. That's where Nuclien comes in. Entirely touch-based, Nuclien is a number tapping endurance match that gives the Switch's touchpad some much needed use, and serves as a nice justification as to why Nintendo would want to keep touch controls available for developers.

Nuclien is a bit of an anomaly when it comes to Switch games. It quite literally demands to be played in handheld mode, otherwise it won't properly start, and, outside of menu movement, the controls are entirely touch-based. While the mechanics are fairly simple, tapping away at numbers, the premise is surprisingly complex. After the end of the universe, it's up to an architect to rebuild everything and usher in a new cosmic era. While the story doesn't get much attention, it's a setting that establishes a tone and gives legitimate meaning to tapping numbers.

Screenshot for Nuclien on Nintendo Switch

Nuclien's campaign is initially separated into four worlds: Micro-organisms, The Ocean, The Land, and Complex Life. Each world features its own method of stage completion. Micro-organism stages simply require tapping numbers as they appear, The Ocean stages' numbers need to be tapped from highest to lowest, The Land's need to be tapped from lowest to highest, and Complex Life's stages require a mix where numbers in squares must be tapped from lowest to highest and numbers in circles must be tapped from highest to lowest. In theory, the objectives are fairly simple. In practice, some stages end up brutally hard, demanding complete focus from the tapper.

Throughout each stage, a timer will gradually go down. Once it depletes entirely, the stages ends and must be restarted. The timer is almost never an issue during the early stages of each world. Normal difficulty stages always give more than enough time to mess up. Once reaching hard, however, those mess ups become critical as each mistake depletes the timer. By the time tappers reach the end of the world, a single error can lead to an immediate game over.

Screenshot for Nuclien on Nintendo Switch

Thankfully, there are workarounds for those lacking in lightning fast reflexes. Completing each stage rewards currency in the form of Knowledge. Knowledge can be used for two key purposes: purchasing a Knowledge Bonus or a Time Bonus. Anyone struggling can simply play through the early stages of each world and acquire enough Knowledge to extend their timer so they aren't put on the clock as intensely. It does help quite a bit, which might be a reason to avoid spending for anyone thrilled by the challenge, but it's a nice alternative to road-blocking anyone lacking the skill to progress.

Clearing all four worlds leads to one final one that puts the rest to shame. Getting here, however, is no easy task, even with the time extension. If tappers play through the worlds linearly, they will notice a shift with The Ocean's design when it suddenly throws in smaller numbers that spawn under big numbers when tapped. This simple curveball completely changes the way stages in The Ocean need to be approached. Planning a course of action simply isn't possible anymore, and it drives home just how important focusing and reacting appropriately are in Nuclien.

Screenshot for Nuclien on Nintendo Switch

While the main story doesn't take long to tap through, even with all the difficulty, there is a short Time Trial mode that adds a level of replayability. Unlike the main stages, there's no timer here. Instead, the goal is just to do as well as possible. If nothing else, it's a pleasant relaxer in-between the chaos of the later stages. Nuclien isn't likely to entice hours upon hours of gameplay, but it's a fun, cheap tap 'em up that's more than worth the time and money.

Screenshot for Nuclien on Nintendo Switch

Cubed3 Rating

Rated 8 out of 10

Great - Silver Award

Rated 8 out of 10

Far more complex and stressful than it lets on, Nuclien is a delightful tap 'em up that genuinely challenges players to focus like little else on Nintendo Switch. Unlike most games on the console, the gameplay actually takes advantage of the touch screen by removing the use of buttons during stages. Each world has its own tap-based gimmick to overcome, with plenty of twists and tension to endure. While the last few stages are especially hard, there's a build-up to the difficulty and players are given all the tools they need to succeed just by paying attention. It isn't particularly long, but Nuclien's reflex-based gameplay is a fantastic way of engaging the brain and the Switch's underused hardware.









C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  8/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   


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