Release Date: 1 December, 2020
Platform: Windows, Switch, PS4/5, Xbox One/S/X
By Chris Picone, 30 March 2023
Zapling Bygone came out a couple of years ago now - the end of 2020. But more importantly, it just released on the Switch! I enjoyed it on Steam but really the Switch is the perfect console for this title.
Some very gorgeous pixels! The level design's fairly spartan, focusing on a platform-style approach, but the characters are nicely detailed and honestly where this game really shines artistically is all the "little touches." The UI, comics, and other value-add features are to die for. And the protagonist is super cute! (yes, the parasite).
While Zapling Bygone bills itself as a sort of precision platforming Metroidvania, I didn't find that to be the case. Sure, there are a few tight jumps you have to make, but the movement's actually a little clunk and I don't think this label fits the bill at all. Likewise, while you fight off rats and birds and robots and all manner of creatures, the enemies feel like more of an obstacle than an actual combat experience. The boss fights are pretty cool though, and are also where you find the other skulls you can wear, providing you with new abilities that allow you to reach new areas of the game. This is where Zapling Bygone shines: It's an explorational Metroidvania. I took great delight in crawling up the walls and finding all manner of nooks and crannies and between the memories, comics, skull and life fragments, and a stack of upgrade pickups, there are tons of secrets to find and the story reveals itself as you go.
This won't be everyone's cup of tea - it should appeal to most Metroidvania fans but it's substantially shorter (~4 hours) and easier than most. But the parasitic, tentacled main character's cool and it's a fun world to explore, and I certainly enjoyed my time with it.