In today’s frantic world, either you are watching things happening live or you are already lagging behind. If it’s a few hours old, then it is already old news so how can we keep up? We gotta trust in those live streamers and crazy reporters who will always put the truth and the news ahead of even their personal safety. That’s what’s going on in our Local News with Cliff Rockslide review.
In Local News, you will be a cameraman for Saul Good- I mean, Cliff Rockslide. Our journalist is a bit of a klutz, trying to launch his career as a video streamer for a while now. His family would rather him join the farming business, along with his other friends. Cliff is tracking a news which might turn around his career: huge vegetables have been propping up around the town. It will end up into a chaos of metric cults, zombies and crazy rich guys. What is going on? Like and subscribe for more.
As the above-mentioned cameraman, we will be trekking around the small town, following Cliff. We will shoot interviews, run after scoops, track down news and, well, detonates a cave. Okay, that last one came out of the blue, apologies. Most of the time, the gameplay is the visual novel / walking simulator kind: press A to advance text. Then there’s the live news, where we will have to either zoom in or pan out depending on the instructions.
Per se, this part of the gameplay is fine, but it does tend to distract a bit from the story. Again, this would be fine if there were actual stakes at play, but… there are none. The number of subscribers growing at the end of a live after following the instructions, does not really mean anything. It will come back later in the game, but again making no real impactful difference. It feels like this whole part could have been left out or given it more meaning.
After half of the game, a short 3-4 hours experience with no replayability factor, the gameplay suddenly wanders into adventure territory. Explore, find items to interact with, solve simple puzzles (such as find the numeric code to open door) and such. This is more interesting, but the overall design is not accessibility-friendly at all, making it hard to see things you can interact with. There is a big green arrow to know where to go, but no clear view of the interactive items.
From there, the game basically stops with streaming, becoming less visual novel, even throwing in a couple of curve balls. While these are probably the best parts of the game, which I won’t spoil, they feel like too little too late. Coming in right before the ending, they just feel like odd ideas, lacking substance. Overall, Local News’ attempts at gameplay feel either meaningless or that needed more time in the oven. They do work more as distractions from the story than anything.
So, what about the narrative? Overall, I would say it’s fine. Definitely heavy on the humour with a colorful cast of characters, hot dog man included. My main problem with it is that our presence in the story is, in the end, of little importance. We do get to interact, asking questions or answering, but there are no branching paths in the story and our role seems to be the “errand boy”. Playing as Cliff (or Melvin) would have definitely made things more interesting. Or, at least, giving more of a central role to the cameraman.
Graphically, Local News presents a basic low poly style which definitely works, with some nice effects and atmosphere. Soundtrack seems to carry the heavy load of the title. It goes as far as featuring little tunes for different rooms where you wander in no more than 4-5 seconds. Really does not lack on the effort.
But still, in the end, Local News feels slightly incomplete. While touches of brilliance here and there, both in the writing and in the design, appear, they feel too few and far between. With mediocre gameplay mechanics, the story is sometimes a bit too verbose with an abundance of jokes. Still, Local News with Cliff Rockslide is a valiant attempt by a small indie team, with ideas which can definitely be appreciated by the local fans of the visual novel/walking simulator variant.
Our review of Local News with Cliff Rockslide was made possible with a key provided by the publisher, Bonus Stage. The game is available on Nintendo Switch.
Local News with Cliff Rockslide: Local News with Cliff Rockslide is an interesting idea for a visual novel, brought down by its mediocre attempts at gameplay, but still featuring a funny story and colorful cast of characters. – Damiano