The Low Road (Nintendo Switch) Review

By Albert Lichi 08.10.2018

Review for The Low Road on Nintendo Switch

With so many indie games copying the LucasArts style of point-and-click adventure format, it is almost as if the genre never disappeared. What is it exactly that makes videogames like this so compelling, anyway? For some it is the emphasis on comedy. Others may be more inclined for the imaginative settings seen in the likes of Full Throttle or the Monkey Island classics. The allure of a detective style experience of clue hunting and solving problems naturally meshed well in this medium, which is why it has endured for so long. The Low Road attempts a very classic approach to the point-and-click formula but with its own unique premise of over-the-hill former spies with a strong 1970's pastiche. Cubed3 walks the The Low Road on Nintendo Switch.

The Low Road begins with a lot of promise thanks to its fresh set-up of former spies turned corporate spies within the automobile industry. The opening moments stand out by establishing some of the most important story elements like who the main characters are and what they want; the building blocks of crafting a character people can understand. Where things go south is when The Low Road progresses its plot and how it barely takes itself seriously. It is understandable to maintain a sense of humour in what is essentially a comedy game, but these elements must be kept in check or else it becomes impossible to get invested in anything. If the story-writer can't be sincere with anything, how can the audience be expected to care?

It is strange how The Low Road becomes both absurd and boring at the same time as things progress. Much of this might have to do with the limitations of how the characters are constructed and awkwardly animate. Scenes where important things are happening are done with everyone just haphazardly standing around, doing nothing. The backdrops all are rendered lovingly and perfectly capture a 1970s vibe and colour palette, but the characters themselves just look embarrassing. Not only does every figure move in a way where they look like cheap dolls assembled by a blind toddler wearing boxing gloves, each character design seems like they were made to be as unappealing as possible.

Screenshot for The Low Road on Nintendo Switch

Each character's design also clashes with the background, which has this sleekness to it with strong edges. Noomi Kovacs, the main protagonist, is hard to believe as someone who has trained to be a spy when she more closely resembles a frumpy librarian with her goofy big red nose, poofy hair, and oversized trousers. The writers of The Low Road missed their calling and probably would have been better off making this story as a film - the overall feel and tone is evocative of a Wes Anderson movie. For an adventure game, the time to beat this is very brief and is closer to the run-time of a six episode series.

A staple of every adventure game is puzzles and riddles to solve. The Low Road avoids the dreaded pixel hunt that is often associated with the genre by drastically simplifying the exploration to a simple 2D plane and all points of interest get automatically highlighted by scrolling through the environment. This is both a blessing and a curse since it does make things very efficient. Good old fashioned point and clicking is just not as satisfying as it used to be. Aside from acquiring key items to "put into the thing that gets put into the thing," The Low Road has what can be best described as mini-game puzzles that need solving. Some of these are kind of like an old-school Silent Hill puzzle that needs a little logic or a steady hand to successfully negotiate. This is The Low Road's main attraction that makes it stand out from the competition, but only half of them are genuinely clever, while the remaining bulk feel like pre-school level, baby's first toy level of intelligence. Honestly, when '90s era adventure games had cryptic and obscure puzzles that feel like they were designed by aliens, it was preferable than most push-over, non-puzzles of today. It is more memorable and interesting to confront something utterly obtuse than to sleepwalk through something so low-effort.

Screenshot for The Low Road on Nintendo Switch

Cubed3 Rating

5/10
Rated 5 out of 10

Average

The Low Road is an incredibly standard point-and-click adventure that only manages to stand out thanks to some interesting visuals and its variety of splash screen style puzzles. The automobile corporate espionage plot begins with promise, but unfolds into an incoherent farce that fails to keep any emotional investment. Unappealing character designs and laughable animation give a very amateurish and childish impression, clashing with a mature plot. The Low Road would have made for a more interesting movie than a videogame.

Developer

XGen

Publisher

XGen

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  5/10

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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