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Last week, publisher Noodlecake Studios’ (The Enchanted World) and indie developer Big Green Pillow’s (Adventure Time: Swordtopia) colorful cartoon adventure Slash Quest! hit Apple Arcade. I’ve spent some time with it, and I’m happy to say that it’s a fun little journey, captained by surprising humor and an unexpected control scheme.
You play as Shep, an unassuming shepherd who stumbles across a magical, wisecracking sword. Swordie, it turns out, used to be the Queen’s royal weapon and was abandoned after her majesty was ambushed by evil creatures. So of course, the talking sword needs to be returned to the castle, and the Queen, as soon as possible.
Potentially the most striking thing about Slash Quest!—or at the very least, immediately noticeable—are the unconventional controls. At first glance, you’d assume a top-down action-adventure romp like this would utilize standard, intuitive inputs. At best guess, you might move around with the analog stick or on-screen thumbpad and attack with the face buttons. Simple stuff. Expected stuff.
Strangely though, in Slash Quest!, movement and offense are turned on their heads, so to say. I’ve been using an Xbox One controller to play, and on that particular peripheral, you hold the ‘A’ button to move, sort of like how you’d press the gas pedal or throttle in a racing game.
Holding ‘A’ makes Shep walk forward, while tilting the analog stick left or right directs both him and Swordie. The shoulder buttons can also be used to navigate, and if you press a direction while standing still (without holding ‘A’), Shep will spin Swordie around, ad infinitum. It’s kind of like classic Resident Evil tank controls, but with a dedicated ‘go’ button.
I’ll admit, it was a bit much to get used to initially, and I found myself wishing for more standard controls. Because at this point in my gaming career, I’ve played enough 3D exploration titles where you just point your thumb where you want to move and it happens.
But as I progressed, and started to really dial into what the developers wanted me to do, it…