Whilst tinyBuild have done a good job of bringing over their back catalogue of titles over to the Nintendo Switch as of late, they also announced that they’d be bringing an exclusive release to the system too – the twin-stick survival horror title Garage. Well, it has finally brought its zombie-slaying gory action to the portable console, and it’s actually pretty decent.
In Garage, you wake up in the boot of a car that has made its way through a smashed up and seemingly abandoned garage. After being left forgetful for a short while, you eventually realise that you’re Butch and that you’re a bit of a loser drug dealer. You also realise that something has gone wrong with the world and it’s full of flesh-eating zombies that want to kill you, which is always pretty pleasant. It’s up to you to make your way to safety and find out more about what caused this zombie epidemic to begin with. It’s a run-of-the-mill horror setup, but it does a good job in adding a bit of context to Garage’s gruesome action.
Garage plays like a top-down survival horror twin-stick shooter, though with an added emphasis on using melee attacks too (you’ve got a mighty satisfying axe that you can literally decapitate zombies with so they’re left running around aimlessly… nice). You’ll venture across a few dark and grimy environments, all whilst finding notes that flesh out the story, finding the items needed to progress, and killing every monster that comes your way. It’s very old-school in its design with an emphasis on item and ammo management too (something Resident Evil fans will appreciate), but it does a good job of offering a satisfyingly gory adventure.
Throughout your time in Garage, you’ll encounter a myriad of hideous foes, most of which take the form of zombified creatures. In honesty, it feels very old-school as far as the enemy designs are concerned with plenty of the foes reminding me of early Resident Evil enemies, though I consider this a good thing seeing as I’m a big fan of Capcom’s series. They’re all fun to take down and offer something different though… except for the rats. Those zombie rats are awful enemies that are just bloody awkward to kill.
One strange feature that the developers included was that you can’t see enemies unless you’re in the same room as them. Given that Garage is a top-down twin-stick shooter where you can see most of your surroundings anyway, not always being able to see your enemies in them just felt a little jarring. It’s a believable feature that does add an extra sense of tension to the game, but it ended up annoying me more than anything, especially since it’s so easy for enemies to kill you if you’re caught off-guard.
You’ll never not notice any boss’ presence though, with their big size and over-the-top design making for some frantic and exciting encounters. They’re often a little formulaic in design and follow an old-school approach with their attacks, but there’s no denying that it’s satisfying seeing their giant health bars slowly dwindle down as you pump them with bullets. The boss encounters are some of Garage’s finest moments, as are the arcade-style vehicle-based set pieces that are also littered across some levels.
It’s worth mentioning that Garage can be a pretty tough game, and not always for fair reasons. It’s incredibly easy to get overwhelmed by enemies and getting caught off guard will see you swiftly meet your end. However, sometimes your attacks aren’t always wholly accurate, so you’re left in situations where you might die and it doesn’t seem to be completely your fault. There were a few instances early on in the game where I would attempt to pound a zombie with melee attacks only to see them miss despite being in range, whilst trying to shoot them later on in the game wasn’t always that accurate either. I get that the game tries to make it realistic by having your arm move slightly whilst aiming, but having a lack of accuracy in a twin-stick shooter isn’t great.
One interesting quirk of Garage is that it seems to be missing an entire chapter of gameplay. When you hit Chapter Ten of the game, rather than starting a new level you’re given a message from the developers saying it was ‘lost’. Now, this message is presented with a semi-comical tone so I’m not sure if it’s serious or if there’s some fourth-wall stuff going on, but either way it didn’t reflect well upon the game. If the developers really did lose the code for the tenth chapter… well… releasing the game with just a message stating so isn’t exactly the best approach to take – it just felt very amateurish.
Garage is far from being the perfect twin-stick shooter, but I can’t deny that I had a lot of fun with it. Sure, the shooting accuracy wasn’t always there and the missing chapter was a bit ridiculous, but taking down countless zombies and grotesque creatures in non-stop gory action was incredibly satisfying.
I think it’s fair to say that Garage isn’t an essential Nintendo Switch title, but those who enjoy mindless horror-focused action will certainly want to give it a try.
Developer: Zombie Dynamics
Publisher: tinyBuild Games
Release Date: Out Now
Platform(s): Nintendo Switch