You might have stumbled upon The Game Baker’s Squids Odyssey before since this charming adventure/strategy/underwater billiard simulator has been previously released on both the Wii U and the 3DS. But is Steev and Vahine’s epic quest to save every creature in the sea worth another go or is it destined to sink?
It's hard to fault these squids in any way. From their mobile roots it was clear the developer was onto something rather special and it has been running away with it ever since. The kid-friendly, colourful artwork and presentation hide a rather curious hybrid of turn-based strategy, RPG and flinging mechanics that unlike most mobile concepts doesn't get tiresome fast.
This is due to the amount of chaos one erroneous fling can cause in the ‘battlefield’. Once you deploy your team of up to four squids on the playfield, each takes turns flinging themselves at enemies or positions until they ran out of stamina and await the next turn. You have to consider currents, urchins and the scenario boundaries so you don't fling your squad into their untimely demise right from the opening rounds. But when things work out well the results never fail to amuse, with your squids hitting foes and everyone bouncing all over the playfield. Doing your finest to predict how things will develop is the key to victory here, but sometimes just throwing squids around and hoping for the best could be just as rewarding.
Of course, you won’t be making it very far unless you successfully prepare your cephalopod army efficiently. The early levels of the main ‘Squids of the Caribbean’ campaign will do a great job of teaching you the ropes, including the four different classes you can deploy: Scouts can dash a few times after being flung, Shooters can fire ranged attacks once per turn, Troopers have a powerful area attack and Healers can recover unit health if launched correctly.
Pearls are your underwater currency. Fear not, you will not need to buy them with actual money like in the mobile versions, you can simply pick it by hitting oysters in the battlefield. You will need to gather these because of levelling up and to buy several dozen stat-boosting helmets. Since some of these hats also show up hidden inside oysters, it pays out to get to all of them before clearing up the battlefield from foes.
Presentation is rather lovely, with charming colourful graphics giving the whole package an all age appeal. Likewise for the sound and music. While it may at first look to be a game aiming for the younger/casual audience, the presentation and the strategy side of gameplay mean that even if you are not part of that target audience you might find yourself helplessly hooked firing squids all across the board. Even if you decide to play it on the TV, the controls are still perfectly usable but nowhere near as fun as using fingertip swipes to unleash cephalopod fury.
This is also far from a bare-bones experience since this edition gathers every single piece of previously released DLC that totals for over 90 individual missions to tackle before you can say you have seen it all, something that will take you a pleasantly long amount of time.
Squids Odyssey is the same charming package you might have played before. If you’re a fan of the series, this Switch edition truly is the definitive way to experience it. It does lose touch controls when played docked, but this is an understandable design limitation of the core gameplay and far from a deal-breaking proposition. If this is your first time meeting old Winnick and his gang, you’re in for quite a treat.