Couch multiplayer gaming is slowly in danger of becoming a relic of the past, one of those things we’ll tell younger gamers of how things were done “back in our day” just to see their bewildered amusement, so it’s interesting to see a new title focusing solely on offline couch multiplayer session. SlashDash by Nevernaut Games is exclusively part of Xbox One’s ever growing ID@Xbox lineup of indie titles, focusing on a dead easy, pick-up and play, couch gaming experience with the casual audience in mind. Not every title in Xbox One’s indie library is destined to be a classic, however, and unfortunately SlashDash falls short of games like #IDARB in many respects.
SlashDash is a mechanically simple game, which is probably a strength given the intention of making it a simple game that anyone can enjoy with their friends, be they gamers or non-gamers. You take control of ninjas in a 2D action game that uses an overhead perspective, akin to a lot of arcade action games from the ‘80s. You can teleport to evade your opponent, use throwing knives to slow them down, and finally use a powerful sword slash to decimate them. What’s present is functional and logical, and complements the gameplay modes and the overall gameplay style, but the execution of the said mechanics leaves something to be desired. The mechanics feel loose, floaty and overly touchy with the hit detection being difficult to determine. It’s hard to tell how and when your attacks connect and a noticeable framerate hitch occurs when the teleport ability is used.
SlashDash is strictly multiplayer, so you’ll need at least another human player to even get into the modes. SlashDash does it old school requiring four connected controllers to get everything out of the title, with strictly no possibility to do anything if you’re all alone with a single controller. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing at all, since having at least two players shouldn’t be much of an issue., but it would have been cool if two players were allowed to fill the remaining slots with AI bots to make the 4 player modes more accessible.
There are four main modes on offer in SlashDash. Two of these modes allow for two players to duke it out, namely Deathrace and Mirror Match. Deathrace has a meter running for each player, and the first to have their meter completely full wins, so it’s about striking your opponent to slow down the progress of their meter. Mirror Match is one of the more entertaining modes on offer, taking a page out of Super Mario 3D World as a team of clones is simultaneously controled, with the objective to fully eliminate the opponent’s team. It’s an ideal mode for laughs, and the mechanics work as intuitively as they do in Super Mario 3D. You can even use the environment to tactfully rearrange the pattern of your clones.
Then there are the four-player modes, with the main one being a traditional Capture the Flag affair with players working in teams. The more interesting one is the Assassination mode, with the objective to assassinate the opposing team’s Shogun leader.
SlashDash is one of those game that instantly clicks with just about anyone, but it won’t take long to fully exhaust what’s on offer. It’s a simple barebones offering that doesn’t do much beyond its basic template. SlashDash started life as a project for a game development/modding class, and it shows from the way the mechanics feel and the the simple but effective ideas are implemented. It’s not bad by any means and perfectly fun for a few laughs over some drinks at a party. SlashDash won’t, however, be the game that you want to pull out for your friends time and time again, or something fondly recalled as a multiplayer haven. There are far better offering out there, even on Xbox One. At the end of the day, SlashDash doesn’t go beyond being just a neat little idea that’s fun for a couple of sittings.