Port Patrol: Death Coming for Nintendo Switch

Fans of the Nintendo Switch have seen no shortage of variety in terms of digital ports for the versatile handheld console. Some of these ports genuinely qualify as great modern titles, while others are as old as "arrow in the knee" memes.

It might be fair to say that some games translate better than others on a console primarily designed for portable gameplay, but few have made me reconsider how I play my Switch like the 2017 indie title, Death Coming.

Published by Zodiac Interactive and developed by NEXTStudios, Death Coming has had quite the journey, platform-wise, since its release in 2017. Beginning with the PC and moving on to portable platforms such as iOS and Android, where it somehow persisted as a freemium game, it recently found its home on the Nintendo Switch.

Gameplay basics and touchscreen issues

Death Coming begins at your end. Our primary character, known only as “you,” finds himself tasked with performing the acts of a grim reaper. As the omniscient player you view each stage from on high, where you look for the most effective and, to be honest, entertaining means of dispatching your mortal machinations on many an unsuspecting person.

Given the very busy nature of your 16-bit world it’s helpful that the controls are so simple. Death traps and easily toppled hazards populate the map where one click activates them, sometimes providing a comical description.

Interacting with the game requires the simplicity of a point and click system, which works fine when you have the benefit of a mouse, but using a controller can take some getting used to. Death Coming requires timing and accuracy, and since the sensitivity of your controls isn’t adjustable, this can prove tedious if you’re not a patient or adaptive gamer. Where this might be problematic for a console like the PS4, which has seen another recent port for this title, this is where the Switch really shines, as it allows for the best of both worlds in its combination of a touch screen and hand-held controls.

For my own experience I found that I could easily over-shoot targets even when I was zoomed in using just the thumb sticks and bumpers. After a little bit of practice it wasn’t as frustrating, but being a child of the 80s I want what I want when I want it! Having scoffed in the past when instructed by other games such as Mario Odyssey to remove the controllers and use them separate from the screen, I’m glad now for the suggestion. With no prior knowledge of the game’s functionality I shed both controllers and used my fingers for a much faster and more satisfying result. Replaying through I saw that the game even suggests the use of a touch screen for the most optimal experience.

It’s completely accurate in pointing out that touch-based interactivity is the best way to play the game. Unfortunately, the limitations of the screen’s size as well as the inability to play this game in its recommended manner on a larger screen are both serious drawbacks for gamers not wanting to put a great deal of thought into something as basic as how they interact with what should be a very simple game.

Far from perfect, but good for the low price

For pulling screenshots I connected my Switch to an Atomos Ninja Assassin recorder and then to my ASUS PB287Q monitor to see the game on a larger scale than I had while I played. A predictable but still welcome outcome was the ease of use of both controllers in this format, which was less tedious but also less effective -- so there are pretty obvious trade-offs in the three ways you can play Death Coming.

This is clearly a game that provides the best experience on a tablet, and the bigger the screen the better. While an iPad is more than up to the challenge of handling Death Coming and will probably require less work to adapt to the style of gaming Death Coming offers, there's also some definite appeal for gamers that prefer consoles.

It’s no exaggeration to say that the design and execution of Death Coming is worth the price of admission alone at $6.99 in most digital stores. As could be said of many games at this price-point, it is a title with limited replay value, Switch or no. Though it’s likely that a casual gamer may tire quickly of repetitive and wanton murder, Death Coming allows for some pleasant, albeit minor, variation, and in the end you’ll be happy to have it in your Switch’s digital library for those days you just need to murder an entire town… adorably.

Death Coming is available on most devices for $6.99 and is eligible for 35 points via the Nintendo e-store.