Adventures of Chris - Switch Review
A fat, asthmatic, slow, timid kid thrown into a sidescroller where the coins are cookies, the health pickups are milkshakes, and the enemies are an assortment of Castlevania-esc horrors that range from Dracula-like vampires to gigantic spiders – The Adventures of Chris is a quirky experiment that, like Humans, falls flat.
Things start off at a snail’s pace with a tutorial that feels like chalk being dragged across a blackboard as you’re awkwardly thrust into far too many text-box pauses that cram forced humour in a failed attempt to try and alleviate the monotony of getting through the training wheels phase. The protagonist isn’t your typical Doom macho-man who can take down a horde of demons with their bare-knuckles so something has to be thrown into the mix to make things fun – naturally, the path taken was superpowers and it’s a fairly fun time, completing levels and travelling the world to unlock new abilities such as ice-based abilities or the know-how to hurl fireballs. Before all that, though, our protagonist in the hot-seat, Chris, gains the ability to balloon, meaning that he can jump higher, transform into Violet from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and float with Pennywise.
Beyond that, there’s the world map which has you choosing levels, a portion of freedom that is utterly refreshing, and a shop to buy gear that ups your stats, or so you’d be led to believe. However, upon entering the store, you’re met with four colours that supposedly change your shirts at the cost of cookies – in my personal experience, I lost cookies, indicating a transaction, but never got the shirt, at least not visually. As far as digital video-game shops go, it was a little lacklustre.
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As far as side-scroller platformers go, Adventures of Chris is a poor attempt, with level design so basic that you have to swap to Mario or Hollow Knight to wash the taste out after, given that you can go from a single screen section with an easy-to-jump gap to a barebones elevating staircase with each having a spider planted atop. It’s not the worst, but it’s mediocre to a T. There’s little challenge to be had and when it is there, it often feels artificial or from the result of janky design.
Story / Personality
It’s clear that The Adventures of Chris wants to break the stereotypes and place an unlikely protagonist on the stage, proving that, despite their weight and mediocrity, they can be the hero too, but that entire message falls flat when the means of becoming the hero are chance, prophecy, unlockable superpowers and a lot of juvenile jokes hurled at them to the point where it’s surprising that the enemies and heroes didn’t just band together with the common goal of tormenting the poor sod.
The writing isn’t terrible – in fact, as far as cringeworthy and awkward eye-rolling dialogue goes, The Adventures of Chris isn’t at all on that level, it’s just nothing particularly special and seems to go against everything that it indicates it’s trying to do. Chris’ character boils down to being the butt of a running gag with little personality beyond that and everyone around him is a fumbling moron who somehow manages to get out of bed in the morning. It’s not Day of the Tentacle in satirical fun-poking, but more Scary Movie 4.
Graphics / Art Direction
Ultimately, The Adventures of Chris feels like a free-to-play Gamemaker upload from back in the good ol’ days of pre-Mario-Maker. The days where the only way you could get your customisable plumber on was through fan-made mods. That’s to say that, visually, it’s incredibly amateurish, with passable sprite designs that have little consistency with awkward animations. It often feels like the developers just threw ideas out there with no regard to keeping a style going, and the animations are far too rigid, with NPCs moving in a way that makes it obvious that they’re following an invisible line.
In that vein, artistically, there’s very little to say – the backdrops aren’t memorable, the sprites look like they were nicked from a library in that they have limited personality or charisma and the colour palette is weirdly drab even in the vibrant portions such as the balloon kingdom. The biggest plus that can be thrown in The Adventures of Chris’ direction is that it holds up on the Switch, but it’s unlikely that it’s particularly noteworthy on other platforms to begin with, so that’s not saying much.
Final Score: 56%
The Adventures of Chris is something you’d probably have seen on Miniclip, played once, and then decided to go back to Fancy Pants. It’s a decent idea with a fun concept that could have made for a hilarious romp, but what we got in its stead is a lacklustre, mediocre, poor attempt at a platformer that’s agitating and monotonous more than anything else. If combat was fun, perhaps that’d act as the saving grace, but with how utterly awkward animations are and how irritating controls can get, that’s not happening here.
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