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6 Aug 2023

REVIEW: Side Decide on Nintendo Switch

Review by Jon Donnis
"Side Decide" is a labour of love brought to life by solo developer Brendan Votano, operating under the studio name Blue Volcano. Four years of dedication and an idea that took root nearly eight years ago have culminated in a delightful puzzle game that graced the Nintendo Switch on August 3rd.

Boasting an equilibrium between serenity and challenge, "Side Decide" stands as a testament to the developer's commitment and creativity. The game's aesthetics draw inspiration from wooden blocks, evoking a sense of nostalgia that resonates deeply. This simplicity doesn't just manifest in the visuals, but also extends to the gameplay, making it accessible and engaging for players of various skill levels.

A standout feature of "Side Decide" is its tranquil musical score, one that gracefully adapts to the player's progress. This harmonious soundscape serves as a companion on the puzzling journey, enhancing the immersive experience and adding an extra layer of depth to the gameplay.

The game's heart lies in its 10 distinct block types, each harbouring its own set of mechanics. This variety not only adds complexity to the puzzles but also encourages players to approach each level with a fresh perspective. The inclusion of Gold, Silver, and Bronze star ratings/achievements injects further incentive for seasoned players to chase excellence, aiming for mastery in every intricate challenge the game presents.

With an impressive count of 121 levels awaiting exploration, "Side Decide" stands as a testament to its rich content. Aspiring to attain a perfect score of 363 stars across these levels may seem daunting, yet the satisfaction derived from overcoming each trial is undeniably rewarding.

"Side Decide" encapsulates the essence of nostalgia with its wooden block-themed puzzles. The primary objective, guiding a wooden cube to its destination, is deceptively simple. However, the cube's diverse sides, each sporting unique shapes, introduce an element of strategic complexity. Rolling onto circles adds an ingenious mechanic, enabling players to rotate the cube and unveil new avenues for progress. Teleportation, wildcards, and precarious falling blocks further elevate the challenge, ensuring that players are consistently engaged.

Bridging the gap between accessibility and complexity, "Side Decide" is a title that should resonate with a wide audience. Whether you're seeking a tranquil escape or a riveting challenge, the game accommodates your preferences. Its allure lies in its ability to provide a serene ambiance for casual players while still catering to completionists yearning for a thorough test of their skills.

The Good
A great looking game, that is easy to play but tough to master. Nice relaxing soundtrack. Easy to pick up and play either for a few minutes or longer. I played on the Switch Lite and it works well on the smaller screen.

The Bad
The menu to choose levels confused me at first, instead of automatically going to the next level after completing the first, you have to choose the next level by moving the block. This isn't clear at first and could do with the choose level system being simplified or automated.

The game gets "challenging" pretty quick, and that toughness may put off some players who perhaps don't have the patience.

"Side Decide" is a testament to Brendan Votano's dedication and vision, capturing the essence of childhood nostalgia within its wooden block puzzles. With its harmonious blend of accessibility and challenge, a symphony of unique mechanics, and a treasure trove of levels, this game rightfully claims its spot as a captivating addition to the puzzle genre on the Nintendo Switch.

I score Side Decide a solid 8/10

Out now on Nintendo Switch

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