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Wednesday, 17 January 2018

Review: Nuclien

Tap into your DNA with this quality new release from Springloaded Games

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Springloaded Games | Nintendo Switch | Digital Only
1 Player
Reviewed by - Curtis Chapman | 17th January 2018

* Review Code Provided by: Springloaded Games *

Releasing on 19th January and currently 25% off at £2.24 the week before launch (full price £2.99), Springloaded Games becomes yet another developer to ship a budget priced title onto the Nintendo Switch. Everyone knows that lower price doesn’t necessarily mean lower quality, so does Nuclien manage to stand out enough to make it worthy of you time and money?

You are the DNA Architect, the sequencer of all lives, go create. This is how you are introduced to your role as the harbinger of life, building the world through a series of frantic finger taps on your Switch’s 6.5” Touchscreen.

Tapping is one thing you’ll be doing a lot of in Nuclien. The main game revolves around pressing on sets of numbered shapes as they appear on the screen. Completing a set will replenish some of the time that is slowly ticking away at the top of the screen while tapping the incorrect shape will reduce some of your time. The game is over end when your time runs out, simple.

The game tasks you with building up DNA by progressing through “Strands” (read. Worlds). With 5 strands of varying length available to play, each Strand uses the same tapping shape mechanic but provides a different take on the premise, changing the ruleset slightly each time. The first Strand will start with you just tapping any numbered bubble that appears on the screen, progressing through the Strands will have you following number sequences upwards, downwards and a mixture of the two. Each Strand increases in difficulty independently, meaning you can tackle them in any order you see fit. Nuclien does a good job of clearly outlining how each Strand should be tackled and ramps the difficulty up as you progress smoothly.

Each level is bite-sized in length, each only lasting minute or so. This makes the title perfectly suited for the play anywhere portability of the Switch. As Nuclien is a touchscreen game there is no option for Docked Mode play or any Controller support during the main gameplay, though it is possible to fully navigate the menus with the joy-cons if you so wish.

Nuclien is a game struggling to fit into any genre, its initial requirement of speed and precision resonates with many of the rhythm games currently on the handheld, though the lack of any kind of music synchronisation robs it of that moniker completely. For all intents and purposes, it’s a puzzle game, if you consider quickly counting upward and downward between 0 and 9a mental challenge. Regardless of how it’s defined, it is an addictive and entertaining game to play.

Both Music and art style both do their job well, with a fairly minimalistic style that looks to be an intentional decision by Springloaded Games. The concept as a sculptor of DNA is brought across well in the games title screen, menus and level select but unfortunately falls fairly flat when actual gameplay begins, with the games touch shapes being low-res white or black numbered squares and circles. It is understandable that due to so much littering the screen at any one time, priority was most probably given to ensuring that the user can see everything going on but an update to art assets and a little razzle-dazzle, however, would have gone a long way to ensuring the main gameplay loop contained the same high-quality look and feel as the rest of the title.

Nuclien features an in-game shop, using currency awarded for completing levels it is used to purchase both currency multipliers and permanent increases in additional time to complete each level. The latter, stretching out the ticking time bar present in each level, feels like a misstep and goes a way to unbalancing the difficulty, turning what could have been a quite difficult game of quick reactions into more one of patience, taking your time to make 100% sure you always press the correct bubble. An option to add and remove this buff as you increase in skill would have been a nice addition but as it stands it does make the game a lot more accessible for those who may not have as quick a reaction time.

Overall, Nuclien is an enjoyable and addictive game to play, with the positive aspects far outweighing the criticism of its finish falling slightly short. Even in its release, the game is underpriced compared to other comparably priced releases and is more than the worth of the measly £2.99 that Springloaded Games have generously set as there launch price.


+ Addictive gameplay
+ Superb value for money
+ Perfectly suited for short play sessions

- Lack of finish during main game.
- In Game Shop unbalances difficulty

Verdict: Above Average - Worth A Try

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