Switch – Or Die Trying Review

By Ethan Anderson, 6 months ago
Do you know that feeling you get when you just barely manage to make a tough jump in a platformer? Forget that feeling. In Threye Interactive’s Switch - Or Die Trying you will become much more familiar with the feeling of being on the verge of making that jump, but instead, falling to your death. The game can be tough, despite its upbeat tunes and innocent looking art style. In fact, it can be extremely tough. Switch – Or Die Trying is not for the easily enraged, but it does provide a serious challenge which fans of the platformer genre should not miss.

Platform like your life depends on itPlatform like your life depends on it

Switch – Or Die Trying has a level of platforming difficulty that is not apparent from the get-go. The first level is little more than a simple walk to the goal, but as you progress, the levels will become increasingly more demanding. The ninth level in the first world of the game is probably where the point of realisation will be for most players. In this level, you must make your way to the top of the stage by platforming nearly perfectly as the bottom of the stage rises to kill you. Thankfully, any and all of the game’s 75 levels can be skipped. The game does not force you to play in any particular order. If you cannot finish a level you are free to simply return to the level select screen, move on to the next one, and return when you see fit.

Overly difficult stages can be skipped, but you must finish at least ten of the fifteen levels in a world before moving on to the next world. Unfortunately, you will also need to platform in the level select screen when choosing where you want to go. This can be a bit tedious after dying multiple times doing much harder jumps in the levels themselves. The freedom to play in a nonlinear fashion is a welcome design choice though, and it has undoubtedly saved a controller or two from untimely, rage-induced demises.

The story in Switch – Or Die Trying is quite straightforward, and it serves its purpose. It provides a simple explanation as to why you will be jumping through the levels. You play as the letter ‘i’, and your goal is to meet up with the other letters of the alphabet that are found at the end of each level. You must make use of a key ability to do this: switching between upper case and lower case ‘i’. Switching gives you an extra jump, but it can change the levels in various ways as well. These changes can range from making spikes protrude and retract from walls to making entire platforms appear or disappear. You are also able to shoot projectiles which can be used to activate switches or destroy objects. Mastering these abilities and using them in tandem is necessary when going up against some of the game’s more challenging platforming puzzles.

As if simply completing levels wasn’t tough enough, you are also graded upon the completion of each one. You can be awarded up to three stars once a level is finished. The first star is awarded for getting to the goal, the second for finishing below a set time, and the third for collecting the ink drop that is found in each level. These ink drops are often found in out-of-the-way places that are time-consuming to reach. You are then given a fourth star for “excellence” if the previous three are obtained. Achieving excellence is no small feat, but going for those elusive fourth stars adds a good amount of replay value for perfectionists.

Is collecting that tiny blue ink drop worth dying for?Is collecting that tiny blue ink drop worth dying for?

The game’s controls are responsive and easy to use, so there is nothing to worry about on that front. Switch – Or Die Trying may be exceedingly difficult at times, but it rarely feels unfair. The platforming can range from easy to frustrating enough that you would rather skip the level, but it never feels impossible. This is important. The struggle involved with overcoming a level is seldom extreme enough to make the level’s goal seem completely unattainable. There is usually a bit of a trial and error period in the tougher levels in which you find the quickest and least dangerous way to get to the goal. This is doubly true for the ones with puzzles to solve and switches to activate.

The levels may not be altogether unreasonable, but as you make your way through the game, those hard to reach ink drops will have you thinking twice about collecting them. The ink drops are rarely worth dying for unless you are set on achieving excellence. It can be absolutely crushing to die near the goal of a stressful level just because you were tempted to grab an ink drop that just so happened to be floating above a bottomless pit.

The inexplicable grid puzzlesThe inexplicable grid puzzles

Most of the puzzles in Switch – Or Die Trying are tricky, but eventually, solutions will present themselves through problem-solving or trial and error. This is not the case with one puzzle type that appears multiple times throughout the game. For this puzzle, you must shoot at a grid to change the colours of the individual squares within said grid. Presumably, you are meant shoot at certain squares in order to make certain shapes, but this is not the case. None of the puzzles in the game are explained in any way, which is fine, but the grid puzzle, in particular, is a complete mystery.

Switch – Or Die Trying only has thirteen achievements to unlock, but as you may have gathered, this will be anything but an easy completion. There are five worlds that contain fifteen levels each. You will need to achieve excellence and be awarded four stars in each level of the game in order to snag all of the achievements. This game is definitely not for those looking to get an easy 1,000 Gamerscore.

Check out our Best Xbox Platformer Games Available in 2018 article for a compilation of other great games in this genre.

Summary

Switch – Or Die Trying is for those who look for a real challenge in their platformers. It can be likened to Super Meat Boy in that respect. Perplexing grid puzzles aside, the game can be extremely tough yet fair in what it expects of players. Merely reaching the goal in certain levels can take all of the platforming prowess that you have, especially towards the end of the game. Going for the stamp of excellence can add replay value for those willing to test the limits of their perseverance. Switch – Or Die Trying is truly a platformer that was made for the diehard fans of the genre.
4 / 5
Positives
  • Challenging but fair level design
  • Freedom to play levels out of order
  • Responsive controls
  • Attempting to achieve "excellence" adds replay value
Negatives
  • Grid puzzles are a complete mystery
  • Platforming to select levels is unnecessary here
Ethics Statement
This reviewer spent six and a half hours switching and dying while trying to reach the goal in every level of the game. An Xbox One download code was provided for the purpose of this review.
Please read our Review and Ethics Statement for more information.
Ethan Anderson
Written by Ethan Anderson
Newshound and part of the TrueGaming Network YouTube team. College student who loves making videos and writing about games. In my free time I'm either struggling/failing to get completions, or praying for a Jak 4.