A pox on being good!
I never thought it would be hard to describe what a game is, but Nefarious may just be the exception. At its heart, Nefarious is a 2D platformer where you play as the supervillain Crow. As Crow, your job is to kidnap the princesses of all the different lands to power up your weapon of mass destruction – one that will help you with your efforts to rule the world. You may be thinking ‘okay, what’s the catch?’ The catch is this: you’re a villain and you’re winning against heroes.
Nefarious is a platformer but with tons of other genres shoved into the mix. But instead of making the game feel bloated, it instead feels as though Nefarious wouldn’t have worked without its inclusion. You have an exploration level that feels very Subnautica, a turn-based RPG boss battle reminiscent of Final Fantasy and even a dating sim that shows off an array of different specialties. If there’s one thing Nefarious isn’t, it’s boring and considering how dated some platformers feel, this really is an accomplishment worth mentioning.
The world of Nefarious is big without being enormous, meaning you’ll have more than enough time to get acquainted with the different enemies, bosses and hazardous environments that you’ll come across. In some worlds you’ll be fighting bees with guns, then you’ll travel to a different place and suddenly have the wrath of ginger Vikings following you around to try and hack your head off. Sometimes your enemy will be a really horrible ogre that actually knocks you out with one single punch. But hey, variety is good!
But what really stands out is how Nefarious’ characters are incredibly aware of their stereotypical roles, try to play into them and thus end up subverting them in the first place. You may go into the game thinking one thing about one character, then end up leaving the game as though you really didn’t understand them at all. It’s a refreshing change of pace, and I guarantee that you’ll end up feeling for at least one of the characters you come across in this silly, wacky world.
There’s so much to love about Nefarious, which is why the controls being such a let down is a hard pill to swallow. I’ve got nothing against a hard game, but if it’s due to the controls being slow and janky to the touch then my delight will quite easily turn into a terrible rage that’ll leave me steaming for hours on end.
Thankfully you can overlook these god-awful controls for aim, as the rest of the controls lack that stiffness and offer different ways for you to progress throughout. Do you want to use a grenade to jump higher? You totally can. Do you want to use your fist to charge up three other fists and smack your enemy into the air? You can, because you’re the boss here and it feels so good.
Overall, Nefarious may have originally come out in 2017 on Steam, but it shines brighter than most other platformers on the Switch in 2018. It’s innovative, crazy fun with an intoxicating world that you can’t help but want to know more about. The controls for aiming still suck, but that is a very minor problem in an otherwise enjoyable game.