Scrap Garden [Switch] Review – I, Robot

By Simon Reed |
The Good

Endlessly surprising adventure

Smartly priced

Strangely effective in setting a tone (at times)

The Bad

Often horribly clunky

Some won't be able to look past the rough edges

Films that are so bad they’re good are rare. Games that are so bad they’re good…well, they don’t really exist. 

Because if a game is broken it often becomes unplayable, and therefore it can never be considered good – or much fun. Yet Scrap Garden is such a strange game – it skirts constantly between the terrible and terrific – that it has an almost hypnotic quality. 

That’s not to say this is a bad game though. It’s clearly a passion project, with no triple A gloss applied to it whatsoever. And that is hugely refreshing.

The ambitious plot sees you play as Canny, a robot who survives a tech apocalypse due to possessing a solar powered battery. He wakes up after over fifty years in stand-by to find all the other automatons in the world frozen in place, unable to move. You have to find a way of putting this right, subsequently saving robot-kind.

Opening scenes see you exploring a silent city. It’s strangely moving, especially when you see a robot couple holding hands on a bench, frozen in time. There’s even a suitably moody score which plays a huge part in setting the tone.   

Then a huge cartoon rat or spider comes out of absolutely nowhere killing you instantly. It kind of ruins the mood, and Scrap Garden is full of these jarring tonal shifts. But this was something we actively enjoyed. Your mileage may vary.

The visuals are detailed but at the same time extraordinarily plain for instance, there’s some amusingly laboured voice-acting, and transitions between sections of levels are often perplexingly jarring.

Scrap Garden is nominally a 3D platformer, seeing you solving fairly simple puzzles – while battling a range of enemies that all without fail simply rush towards you as soon as you’re within range. They can all be seen off with a jump on the head, regardless of whether they’re a snow wolf or massive spider.

This doesn’t sound great in itself, but there are enough bizarre moments scattered in that make you desperate to see what’s thrown your way next. 

The strangest bits are undoubtedly the bosses you’ll face. These range from a huge gorilla who looks like he’s been ripped from a Playstation One game – to a frog with red laser eyes. The latter is seen off in possibly the most hilariously anti-climactic way we’ve ever seen in a videogame.

They all take different strategies to defeat, and importantly things never get too difficult be it a boss battle or the standard levels. Although checkpointing can be a bit harsh at times it was never enough for us to rage quit at any point.

So yes, sometimes Scrap Garden feels like it’s being held together by sticky tape. Sometimes it can be so clunky you want to scream in frustration. 

Yet it’s smartly priced, clearly a real labour of love by all involved, and always keeps surprising you. Just not always in a good way, admittedly. 

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