At first glance, the brand new puzzle adventure from UNDERSCORE and Joy Brick, Aliisha: The Oblivion of the Twin Goddessesshows a lot of promise in the way it was designed from the ground up for two players to engage in plenty of cooperative detective action that takes full advantage of the Nintendo Switch’s unique range of capabilities.
Here we have a puzzle that sees two friends working together to solve a series of atmospheric multi-room puzzles, each taking on the role of one of two sisters, Aisha and Lisha, who come to stumble upon a huge underground temple full of mysteries and ancient magic. What’s most interesting here is that one player uses their Switch in handheld mode while the other takes care of their Joy-Cons in docked mode – using a required second Switch – in order to explore the proposed world, ensuring that the console’s gyroscopic controls and touchscreen are all put to work as you progress through the campaign.
On paper, it’s a strong idea that starts well, with the sisters parting ways as stubborn adventurer Aisha heads straight for the bowels of the game’s labyrinthine complex while her more ominous twin, Lisha, stays outside. , choosing instead to send his AI buddy, AMBU, along to help. After a brief introductory sequence, players take control of Aisha and AMBU and must use all their available skills in order to progress a reasonably interesting main plot that revolves as much around the developing relationship between the two brothers as legends and folklore. you will discover underground.
Between Aisha’s exploration skill that highlights objects in the environment or gives you subtle clues about which direction to go, and AMBU’s ability to fly, scan, and provide detailed information about rooms you wander through, there’s plenty here to keep players busy. However, this is a game that, despite having obviously put a lot of time and attention into it, suffers from a range of issues that make it a rather frustrating and laborious adventure overall.
The biggest problem right out of the gate is that Aliisha: The Oblivion of Twin Goddesses offers its co-op mode in local wireless only, insisting that you have two copies of the game and two Switches at your fingertips to take full advantage of its asymmetrical gameplay. We get where the devs are coming from, they have a unique experience here that works best for two players if they can accommodate those demands, but restricting co-op access in this way certainly puts a big hurdle on a lot of players potentials and it’s such a shame that we couldn’t have some sort of online or split-screen alternative too.
Yes, there’s also a single-player mode included, and we worked on that a bit for this review, but single-player play here highlights the game’s other main problem, an overall slowness in traversal, in interactions with environments and in switching between Aisha and AMBU, which you’ll have to do constantly if you’re playing alone. We don’t know how much of that has to do with a frame rate that struggles a bit at times, but just moving around puzzle rooms, switching between characters, reading text, manipulating objects, etc is far too slow for our liking, and it creates a quivering sense of constant frustration which is then heightened by puzzles that can be far too tedious and time consuming to solve and focus a little too much on meticulously finding every inch of environment until something clicks.
While we were impressed with a few of the maze-like problems the game throws at you, with massive puzzles that require you to manipulate large environments, study game lore closely, and work well together to succeed, it There’s a lack of polish that permeates almost everything you do, with a clunky interface and an almost average lack of guidance or help that results in some serious testing moments the further you go. It all just needed more refinement in how characters sense and interact with objects, a bit more care in how touchscreen aspects are implemented, and a way to even call out a bit of tweaking. helps when you’re absolutely stumped over a huge puzzle with the feeling like you’ll never, ever know where to go next.
We love our challenging puzzle games, and we don’t mind getting caught up or stumped every once in a while, but there’s a constant feeling here that things could have used more direction, that the way forward is sometimes absolutely baffling because the game fails to make itself clear, rather than real puzzles.
There is also a total lack of real eureka times or times when you sit down and feel happy and in awe of how a problem has been solved. When you put it all together, the sluggishness, cumbersomeness, lack of clarity, and barriers erected around this co-op mode, well, you’ve got a game that tries hard, works well in places, but just doesn’t feel enough fun or smooth to really please in the end.
There’s no doubt there’s fun to be had here for incredibly patient puzzle fans (who have multiple Switch consoles, two copies of the game at hand, plus a willing co-op partner), but for all the world, things are going way too frustrating – and way before you get to the end of what’s on offer. And the single-player mode feels like a watered-down alternative that’s way too cumbersome and time-consuming due to the constant need to switch between characters, which slows everything down even further.
Yet there’s a unique and intriguing co-op core here that blends your typical multiplayer interaction patterns beautifully. We’d love to see the developers revisit this idea in the future, smooth out the rough edges, make things a little easier to read and navigate, and they could have an absolute bang on their hands. It just doesn’t work well enough here, though.
Aliisha: The Oblivion of Twin Goddesses is a bright and colorful co-op puzzle adventure that brings unique and interesting ideas to the table. There are decent puzzles, likable characters, a reasonably engaging story, and we love to see games hitting the stride to incorporate the Switch’s capabilities into their setup. However, there’s an overall awkwardness and lack of polish here too, with little to no obvious direction in most puzzles, and far too much focus on meticulously studying every square inch of the pieces, resulting in a adventure which is too often an exercise in frustration. It’s also a shame that co-op mode is only available through local play which requires two consoles and two copies of the game, as doing it solo is a much less enjoyable experience. Admirable, therefore, but imperfect.