A top-down, Hotline Miami-esque zombie shooter exclusively for Switch? What could go wrong? In Garage, by developer, tinyBuild, we find out that even with competent gameplay and an intriguing art direction, a game can still be a chore to play.
Firstly, while I know this doesn’t have anything to do with the game itself, the name Garage is pretty awful considering how generic that title is. Even finding info from a Google search of the game is tough because of the title. Developers/publishers, branding is important! It doesn’t help that the rest of the game matches how forgettable the title is.
As the name suggests, the main character is stuck, and the entire game takes place in a garage. Unfortunately, it’s not as enjoyable as that one Seinfeld episode. Along with trying to make your way out of the garage, you will be attacked by zombies, other armed humans and worst of all, rats. Seriously, the rats in this game are a pain because of how fast they move, their small hit boxes, and because of how precise you must be. I often found myself dying more from the rats than bosses or any other enemies, which struck me as odd and unintentional. The gameplay is one of the highlights, feeling like a mix between Dead Nation and Hotline Miami. Shooting and melee attacks feel good and the sense of progression is paced well. A standout mechanic is having to bust down doors with an axe instead of just simply opening them.
Another thing worth praising in Garage is the variety. For a game that takes place entirely in a garage, it’s neat that the developers were able to throw in enough to combat the feeling of being repetitive. From the different guns, tasks, to the enemy types, something new was always happening, even if they weren’t always executed the best way. There’s even a section where you drive a motorcycle! Woo!
All of that being said, the game is crushed by one simple flaw and it makes the game almost unplayable:
IT’S TOO DARK.
You may think, “It’s a horror game, *of course* it’s dark.” Yes, that’s true, but it’s a video game first and it needs to be fun and playable. In Garage, there are points where I couldn’t see where to go. As in, I spent 30 minutes pacing back and forth, mashing the “open door” button, trying to find an exit I may have missed. This issue brings the Garage to a halt, because I wasn’t able to do any of the fun things it offers without being frustrated. By the time I did find an item I needed, I was mad at how long it took to get there, especially without the option to increase the brightness from a menu. There are a few points where you must collect multiple items to advance and I remember thinking, “Oh no, I have to actually explore”, which is not a good sign. Even during combat, not being able to see is rough because I would often get stuck on objects in the environment, causing quick death. The other issues, like the loading times or the bland story are also notable, but they’re almost overlooked because of the visibility problem.
Garage could be good. Top-down horror brawlers/shooters are a blast, but this just proves that playability and fun should still be a priority for developers. The frustrating thing is that most of the glaring issues could be fixed with seemingly little effort. As it stands, Garage is not worth even the $15.00 price point it has on the eShop.