Review: RICO (Switch)

Fight crime in this roguelike shooter.

By Andy Hoover. Posted 03/20/2019 06:00 Comment on this     ShareThis
The Final Grade
grade/score info
1-Up Mushroom for...
Shooting stuff is fun; both long term and short term roguelike progression; cel-shaded art style; co-op
Poison Mushroom for...
Repetitive gameplay; repetitive visuals; surprisingly little music

Switch has a bit of a shooter shortage. The FPS genre has long been a staple of the gaming industry so the relatively small selection of them that have found their way to Switch is somewhat surprising. Bethesda brought over a few of its major franchises in Doom and Wolfenstein, but most other publishers don’t seem all that interested, despite how popular the system is with gamers. So, in the meantime, it looks like indie developers will have to step up to fill that gap and RICO is a product of that effort.

RICO puts players in the shoes of elite cops taking on the toughest gangs and their violent leaders. The cutscene you’re greeted with upon booting up the game might make you think this is a narrative-driven experience, but that’s not even close to being the case. The rag tag group of super cops introduced are really just character skins with no actual variations in gameplay and the “story” is really just a series of randomly generated levels with roguelike elements that emphasize replayability. While this might upset those looking for a more traditional experience, you shouldn’t write RICO off too quickly, because it still has some interesting ideas.

The core of the game is its Case mode, in which players progress along a spider web of potential missions with the goal of eventually taking down a gang leader at the end. From the start of each case, you’re presented with a number of missions to choose from and you can even opt to clear every single mission on the board or just play the bare minimum as you go for the final boss. Choosing to play more missions will earn you more Merits, a currency used for purchasing new guns, weapon attachments, grenades, and health power-ups, so it could make the increasingly more difficult missions a little more manageable. However, if you die along the way, then the case is closed and you’ll have to start a new one from scratch, with none of the weapons or gear you’ve purchased.

Thankfully, the game does give you some permanent rewards. Completing missions also gives experience which allows you to level up and earn perks you can keep in all future playthroughs as well as the other game modes. You can equip three perks at a time and they provide useful bonuses like the ability to carry an extra grenade, better accuracy when aiming down the sight, or faster reload times. Also, weapons bought during a Case will also be available in the other modes which pretty much amount to random missions and a wave-based hoard mode. For fans of leaderboards, there are daily challenges with preset objectives and weapon sets.

RICO also plays fairly well even if it’s not exactly inspired. The core gunplay is solid but it doesn’t feel as fine-tuned as the genre’s best; I played around a lot with the sensitivity but couldn’t find the perfect sweet-spot. However, the option to turn on motion controls for small aim adjustments is a welcome addition. There’s also a big focus on breaching doors, as every time you kick one down you’re treated to a brief moment of Matrix-esque slow motion so you can quickly clear entire rooms. Of course, your choice of weapon might impact how you play, but seeing how pretty much everything is taking place at short range, there really isn’t that big of a tactical difference between running around with a shotgun vs. using an assault rifle.

The biggest problem, though, is that it won’t be long until you really feel like you’ve seen and done everything. Each mission is in a randomly generated set of rooms based on one of a handful of environment types and the objectives are scattered through the many rooms. The main task is to collect evidence suitcases but you’ll also come across other objectives like disarming bombs, taking out specific targets, or destroying what look like computer servers. Once that’s taken care of, you can either hoof it back to the level entrance to leave, or continue clearing rooms until everything’s dead and then leave. The option to play everything with another player, either split-screen or online, might help slow the growing sense of repetition, but it’s not a major game changer.

At first glance, RICO’s visuals do look pretty cool thanks to its cel-shaded art but the problem of repetition drags it down, too. You’ll see the same environments and enemy models over and over again so the uniqueness of the art direction quickly fades away. At least the gun models are actually quite nicely detailed. The sound, on the other hand, is barely worth talking about. The guns and general sound effects are okay, but the main menu music is as generic as it gets while the music in levels literally doesn’t exist. It’s actually kind of bizarre how little music is in the game.

RICO‘s biggest strength really is just that it’s a shooter that gives players lots of opportunities to shoot things. Running through levels and gunning down baddies works well enough but that’s really all there is to the game. Even just playing for one or two hours at a time reveals the unshakable sense of repetition in everything you are doing, seeing, and hearing. The game works best in short sessions as a way to blow off steam because, let’s be honest, shooting enemies in video games is pretty fun almost regardless of everything else; the only question is if there is anything else to keep you playing after you satiate your digital blood lust. Unfortunately, RICO likely won’t give that extra motivation for most gamers.

Nintendojo was provided a copy of this game for review by a third party, though that does not affect our recommendation. For every review, Nintendojo uses a standard criteria.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Log In 0 points Log in or register to grow your Ninja Score while interacting with our site.
Nintendojo's RSS Feeds

All Updates Podcast
News Comments
Like and follow usFacebookTwitter Friend Code Exchange + Game with Us Join the Team!