Project Nimbus: Complete Edition is finally here bringing in its own take on the mecha style of games, including unique designs, loadouts, and fast-paced combat. Now, it’s time to really see what the game is about, and just what it has to offer with our review.
+Extremely creative gameplay elements that add in a significant amount of replay value
+Stunning visuals and performance on the Switch
+Tons of replayability due to the Warfront mode
+Uniquely design mechs that stand out from other games
-Controls can be a bit difficult to adjust to
-Survival mode gets extremely redundant
When I was a child, there were two things I often dreamt of coming to life in my days on this planet. One, I’d always hoped I’d get the chance to see a mech flying from our atmosphere deep into space. I imagined that these giant robots would walk our Earth as talented men, women, and robots navigated them around our globe. Second, I imagined, by now, we’d be traveling among the stars, exploring deep in outer space, just as my childhood heroes of Gundam, Voltron, and even Macross had.
For some, it’s an odd ideology to dream of such things. But even now, as an adult, I still let that kid inside me live on with the hope of seeing that vision come to fruition, however, until that happens, I’ve had to turn to games to get my craving for one such endeavor. Having opted out of several chances to experience an artificial take on the one thing I long for, I somehow skipped out on Project Nimbus when it launched on PC and PlayStation 4 sometime last year.
Only recently, the series had caught my eye, reminding me of the things I loved about the ability to pilot Skells in Xenoblade Chronicles X or the fast, but somehow, lethal mechs of Armored Core. There’s even that sense of nostalgia I get when I think of Daemon X Machina, which is still getting its paint polished, its wiring evaluated, and the navigation systems triple checked.
Something I still imagine doing at one point in my life, but until then, there have been quite a few great titles to give that sensation I’ve longed for since my days of Armored Core on PlayStation 2 and Xbox 360. Namely, Assault Gunners HD Edition and Project Nimbus: Complete Edition. Luckily for GameCrafterTeam, their Nintendo Switch edition got my attention, and now, it’s time to get our hands dirty and discuss the game to the fullest.
Engines? Check. Story? Check. We’re clear for…
One thing I admire about a lot of games like Project Nimbus: Complete Edition is how long they’re here to stay. To be honest, I get tired of games where I feel like I’m going to be drawn in for fifty-to-sixty hours or more unless I’m having quite a bit of unexpected fun. That’s been the case with Project Nimbus: Complete Edition, which surprisingly enough, only took me between six-to-eight hours to complete.
During that six-to-eight hours, I was actually quite impressed with the overall production of the game. Cutscenes and story-based voice overs are actually fully-voiced and in English none-the-less. While I do love a good Japanese dub, mech-games are almost too chaotic for one-such option, which makes it hard to follow the story as you play.
That’s not the case here and the story itself, while nothing groundbreaking or super-creative, is rather simple. It’s about two warring factions, both of which have taken to the skies following the devastation that battered our planets surface, leaving it nearly uninhabitable to those that called it home. Because of this, these factions now live on ships across the stars, calling them home, allowing for our species to have another chance at life, but among the stars.
Surprisingly enough, the way that GameCrafterTeam has done this isn’t a far-fetched element by any means necessary. Humans still live in and around our planet, we inhabit giant ships, ones that seem, for what it’s worth, somewhat believable as our technology continues to surpass that of what we had decades ago.
Among the advancements come high-tech mechs known as Battle Frames. These frames, oddly enough, aren’t as ‘science fiction’ as one might think. Their equipment, weapons included, are actually almost on par with what we’ve seen in anime franchises such as Macross and Patlabor. you see the trend here? They’re all believable and in some ways – plausible scientific advancements that could be made.
Now, the plot of the game, while paper thin, is quite enjoyable as you get to bash, smash, blast, and dash your way through every combat scenario. Unfortunately, don’t expect to change up your kit. It’s not possible, and unfortunately, it’s not something you’d actually want to do by any means necessary. The story lets you use specific models with very specific stats, each one based around the scenario that you will experience, which doesn’t always mean it’ll be an excellent experience as your skills will be put to the test.
That’s the point of the story though. It’s about overcoming odds, staying alive, and finding out the truth about the war that is igniting right before your eyes and stopping it before you can. But let’s talk about mecha designs because, with any mecha game, these are important.
Let’s talk mech designs
When it comes to the artistic nature of a mecha game, it’s important and ensuring that your designs stand out from other franchises even more-so. To set this off, you have to know there are very few mechs in the game. By very few, I mean very few, no more than a handful for both factions.
While this does sound bad, trust me, it’s not. The Battle Frames are well designed and offer a wide array of gameplay elements for the missions you will undertake through the games three different modes. Namely Survival and Warfront, which gives you access to more than a dozen Battle Frames, each having their own unique arsenals. Oddly enough, none of them look like they were pulled from a known anime universe, but rather, stand out on their own.
You won’t find an Armored Core type approach by any means at all. These mechs are all kitted out differently. My personal favorite is the ZX-08 Budusheye, which packs a massive punch thanks to its ability to dart in and out of close range to medium range combat in a blink of its eye, using its missiles, it’s Avenger Power Fire Mode, and its Particle Shield to allow it to devastate an enemy up close and personal.
On the other hand, you have mechs like Typhoon (Norther Custom), which allows it to be an extremely powerful close-quarters-combat mech. It excels at getting up against your enemies, beating them down with the use of its Claymore and its shield, only to use its machine gun and missiles to attack from a medium range before closing in rapidly. You’ll eventually use them all, they’re absolutely gorgeous and an absolute blast to pilot in both third-person and cockpit views.
Graphics and performance, let’s get under the shell of the experience
But now, you’re wondering, “how well does this game perform due to those two different viewpoints? It can’t run that well, can it?”
Surprisingly enough, the graphics are absolutely gorgeous, and Project Nimbus: Complete Edition sets another standard in handheld mode graphics for the Nintendo Switch using Unreal Engine 4. It runs buttery smooth, never having a hiccup or even showing jagged edges when darting about with multiple explosions going off in the distance, god rays coming down on you, or reflective surfaces just below you.
Instead, the game remains steady, seemingly at a solid 60fps at what appears to be 1080p while docked and somewhere near 900p while in handheld mode. I could be wrong, but regardless, this game is beautiful, it’s crisp, and it’s one heck of a graphical and performance achievement on the Nintendo Switch. Even the anti-alias seems on par with the PC version of the game, which is quite an achievement, and an admirable feat none-the-less.
Now, there is one drawback to this. The load times do exist when you both first go into the menus and then when you transition between one mode or another. Load times can often hit the 20 to 30 seconds mark, sometimes even longer, but that depends on the mode you select. When playing story mode, it seems that the performance – as far as load times are concerned – was considerably less. This could be due to the resources needed in order to render all the Battle Frames and their kits.
But as part of the performance area, I do need to warn you about the battery life. Due to the beautiful graphics, how much this game renders, and how smooth it performs: It’ll eat through the battery life of your Switch rather fast. I found my battery lasting an average of around 2.5 hours per session before I’d have to either dock my Switch or plug my charger into the bottom of the Switch.
Regardless, this game is an absolute marvel as far as graphics, designs, and gameplay elements go. It runs smoother than you would expect and will stand as a shining example of what Unreal Engine 4 can do on the Switch. Except there’s another thing we need to talk about, which are a bit of a learning curve and could present a bit of trouble for those not used to these kinds of games.
Controls and combat can be a bit frustrating, even for mecha-game veterans
Even as a veteran mecha-game fan, I’m used to wonky controls and I’m even more used to the idea that I’ll have to play with what’s known as the “claw” to use all the buttons on my controller. If you don’t know what the Claw is, you may want to watch a video on it, but if you can move your fingers across the controller fast enough, you may not need to do it.
However, while this sounds like a bad thing, it isn’t, and luckily, this is partially due to the fact you can scale the difficulty to your experience, which in turn, changes modifiers such as damage taken and damage dealt as well as how much aim assist you will receive. I highly suggest the lowest difficulty if you are new to these types of games. That’s mostly due to the fact that unless you are used to adjusting your camera angles to move up and down, you’re going to struggle a bit, and will just wind up frustrated with your overall experience.
Instead, you’ll be opting to use the ‘X’ and ‘B’ options to ascend and descend from the skies. Additionally, swapping weapons can be a slight bit more frustrating than that. You’ll have to opt for using Up and Down on the D-Pad to alternate between your weapons unless you pull up the weapon wheel with ‘L’ to choose what weapon you want to use. It’s a confusing mess, but once you adjust to it, you’ll find yourself right at home, picking off one enemy at a time without much trouble.
It’s just a confusing mess at first, but again, it’s something you’ll adapt to as you play. I was used to it within my first hour of with the game and didn’t struggle from there-on-in. Once you’re used to it though, you’ll be able to develop your own strategies with each of the Battle Frames and find yourself zipping through every wave you’ll encounter with little trouble.
One last thing to discuss, replayability, and why this singleplayer game offers tons of it
Now, you already know I mentioned two non-story based modes: Survival and Warfront. These two modes are going to be where your replayability comes into effect, not the story, as it can be beaten within several hours as long as you dive on in, and will be wanting a bit more variety. Except, one of these two modes, has a repetitious loop that pops up sooner than later, and will wear thin rather quickly.
Can you guess what one? I thought so. So let’s talk about Warfront. This mode is where the game really gets some meat on its bones, story aside, and will truly put your skills to the test. In this mode, you start out with limited access to the games overall roster of Battle Frames. You’ll come across various objectives that will need to be completed that can include, but not be exempt from things such as base defense, assassinations, defending your own members, and even more.
As you complete these objectives, you get experience and resources, which can then be used to upgrade the capabilities of your current model Battle Frames or even unlock brand new ones to have at your disposal. This mode is not as easy as it sounds and it does take a bit of skill to get through it. But let me tell you, this mode, it’s a blast, and I could absolutely play a game solely built around this mode. It’s a great pick-up-and-go experience, which the same can be said about the story.
While this mode is rather shallow in its offerings, it doesn’t change the fact it’s fun, and it’s an excellent time burner when you’re stuck waiting on a train, a Uber, a Lyft, or even at a bus stop or even a download to finish. Overall though, it’s just filler, but a rather fun filler at that. It’ll keep you playing for a while after you beat the campaign though, trust me.
Y’know, one thing I didn’t mention, was the sound. There’s a reason for it. It’s great. That’s all that can be said about it. It delivers home an anime-like experience that really seals the deal for this heavy-hitting mecha experience. Between beautiful mech designs, gameplay elements, and a cookie-cutter, but somehow enjoyable story, Project Nimbus: Complete Edition is more than I could ever ask for on a Nintendo Switch.
Luckily, there’s even news about a sequel, and because of that, I can easily say that this is one of those few times I’ll highly recommend a title like this and even suggest you snag the Nintendo Switch version over the PC and console siblings. It’s just too good to pass up and it’s a rather big package in such a barely talked about title.
Project Nimbus: Complete Edition
Platforms: Nintendo Switch
Platform Reviewed: Nintendo Switch
Release Date: Available Now
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have Battle Frames to keep unlocking.
Our review is based upon a retail version that was provided to us by the publisher of the game. For information about our ethics policy please click here.
About the Writer(s):
Dustin is our native console gamer, PlayStation and Nintendo reviewer who has an appetite for anything that crosses the borders from across the big pond. His interest in JRPG’s, Anime, Handheld Gaming, and Pizza is insatiable. His elitist attitude gives him direction, want, and a need for the hardest difficulties in games, which is fun to watch, and hilarity at its finest. You can find him over on Twitter or Facebook.