Down in Bermuda - Switch Review
"Leave no stone unturned"
Milton, a brave aviator flying over the Bermuda Triangle, is brought down crashing on an island filled with mind-challenging puzzles and strange glowing orbs to collect. 30 years pass from that fateful day and there you come along, an omnipresent being looking to help Milton solve the puzzles that keep him on the island. Not many have escaped the Bermuda Triangle but in Down in Bermuda, we're going to do just that by reuniting Milton with his family.
Down in Bermuda originally released on Apple Arcade back in late 2019, so you can imagine that the gameplay is heavily based around touchscreen controls. Whilst this game on Switch is best played in handheld mode, the game's mechanics aren't exactly the most complicated, simply requiring you to rearrange blocks, flick switches and exploring the islands to find stars and orbs with the tip of your finger, therefore a cursor to be controlled with the left joystick also suffices just fine. In fact, it may well be preferred as the touchscreen can be a little awkward for precision, especially on the Switch's small screen.
Each island contains approximately 20 small star orbs that must all be collected to receive a bigger orb. These bigger orbs are usually one of four (or so) that need to be collected to unlock the following level. The small star orbs start out plentiful at first, usually with three to five staring right at you from the get-go. However as that number dwindles and you only have a couple left to go, it becomes infuriating as you feel like you've searched everywhere and that you're missing something vital.
As you complete harder challenges, you'll sometimes earn various coloured keys. There are six keys in total and each unlock a certain lock in a level. The clever aspect to this is that you may not open a lock in level one until you find its corresponding key in level four. This then allows for clever backtracking that doesn't feel too tedious but rather, creates rewarding eureka moments.
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Speaking of challenge, Down in Bermuda's difficulty goes from one to 100 like that. For those unsuspecting, they'll go into level two with all of the confidence in the world only to quickly realise that this game is no cake-walk. As the levels progress, you'll need to be sure to check everything, taking a literal meaning to the phrase "leave no stone unturned".
Story / Personality
Based around the mysterious Bermuda Triangle, the themes of being castaway on islands is done so with wonderful charm. Throughout Milton's adventures, he meets various creatures from a giant turtle who has been trapped for 563 years to a skeleton pirate who challenges you to find his treasure. The wackiness fits naturally with the game's childrens' book motif and is sure to put smiles on those playing and/or watching.
As you continue to search for orbs and whatnot, you'll occassionaly stumble across some polaroid photos of Milton before the crash. These provide nice snippets of backstory in a way that isn't too heavy on the dialogue. It's also heartwarming to see Milton in his plucky youth without his thick white beard and hunched back.
Graphics / Art Direction
The art is colourful and packed full of whimsy, with 3D models deliberately lacking fine detail texture that we've come to expect from many indie developers. It has a natural charm that is pleasant to look at and doesn't draw too much attention away from the gameplay.
Finding orbs and other key objects can be quite difficult in handheld mode, especially when zoomed so far outward. It is simultaneously the most difficult yet laid-back task I think I've ever had to do in a video game. I tended to zoom out as much as I could to see a much wider view of the map but at the same time, I found myself frequently squinting at the screen. My mum always told me not to stare too closely at the screen and I think she was right (just don't tell her that). Down in Bermuda certainly benefits on Switch when in docked mode, making objects much easier to see when on a big screen TV.
One major gripe that I had with Down in Bermuda is that the keys in each level (and other occassional puzzle aspects) are colour coordinated to their lock and for someone who is colourblind, not having a mode to account for this makes moments unnecessarily difficult.
Music / Sound Design
Keeping in theme with Down in Bermuda's light-hearted approach, the soundtrack is colourful and jolly from start to finish. Other times, the game opts to focus on the sounds of nature, with birds tweeting, rushing water and leaves rustling in the wind. It's serenely beautiful and creates a calming effect when the going gets tough.
Please note that my opinion on this game's music may be a little skewed as all I could hum whilst playing it was the Beach Boys' Kokomo 1988.
Click here to read our review of When the Past Was Around
Final Score: 74%
As previously mentioned, Down in Bermuda takes a literal approach to the phrase "leave no stone unturned". It's a game that is much more difficult than I had initially anticipated (sometimes unnecessarily so) but towards the end, I can honestly say that it was a delightful trip down to Bermuda. With its short two hour runtime, it may be seen as a trip cut off too soon, but I certainly enjoyed every minute of it.
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