Hundred Days (Switch) Review

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The saying “You can make a good movie out of anything” applies just as well to video games, if you ask me. Sure, we more often than not see games focusing on jumping through fantastical worlds, beating up horrifying creatures, and exploring planets beyond our own, but more and more games are starting to gravitate towards more recognizable settings and themes. Last year’s Unpacking focused on the stories told through moving houses and games like Say No! More focus on themes like worker empowerment and mental wellbeing. Hundred Days found its inspiration in the intricate art of winemaking. Now I enjoy a good bottle of wine from time to time, but rarely stop and think about the journey it has taken to get this liquid into my glass (as I tend to avoid with almost any consumer product). Hundred Days strikes a beautiful balance by presenting the winemaking process for the challenge it truly is, as well as being a clever strategy game that is mostly a good fit for Switch.

Hundred Days has several ways to play, but the main introduction of the gameplay happens in the Story mode, in which you play a stressed out worker who inherits a winery in France without having any previous experience in winemaking. Along your winemaking journey you meet a cast of friendly and diverse characters who play a role in the region where you produce your wine. Along the way you’ll not only learn how to play the game but also all the aspects that come with producing this delicious grape juice.

At first this can all feel a bit overwhelming. You aren’t playing minigames to pick the grapes and crush them into broth. Instead Hundred Days takes a strategic approach to its gameplay. On the screen you find a board consisting of squares and cards in your hand. Each card has a particular tetris-like shape when played on the board. You can rotate the piece before placing it and once you’ve placed the piece you get options to adjust the process of making your wine. For example, when crushing the grapes you can decide how much pressure you can use to determine the amounts of tannin and sweetness the wine will contain. After placing your piece you can advance to your next turn and place new cards on the board. Some actions require multiple turns, like aging or harvesting, requiring you to think ahead. At the same time, all the actions you perform cost you money, which, as long as you aren’t selling your final wine, puts a real sense of timed pressure on gameplay. Thankfully, there’s no requirement to take immediate action. The core focus throughout the game remains being strategic.

Once you get the hang of things, this makes the gameplay loop incredibly rewarding. As you sell more wine and gain more reputation, you can increase your machinery and tools to produce different kinds of wine. These upgrades are very expensive and you really get the feeling that the journey of winemaking is a race against time. From the moment you plant your first vineyard to the end of the season where you need to sell wine to stay in business, it really makes you experience that challenging feeling of making “the perfect wine.” Perfection here being pretty much impossible, because the game accounts for all the weather conditions, wine trends and speculative bubbles that exist in real life. You may have gotten an 85% rating on a Barbera you’ve just bottled, but Chardonnay has just become a trend and you’ve put all your effort into getting this red wine as good as it is.

All or some of this may sound unappealing, but I was struck by how enjoyable I found this repeating loop of mixing up ingredients and investing in new tools like yeast and specific casks to add to the flavor of my wines. I just kept saying to myself: “Okay, one more round. Okay, one more season. Okay, one more type of wine.” Fitting the pieces together on the board becomes more challenging as you only have so much time within a season to complete a certain action. Are you going to forego weeding the vineyards to upgrade the winery? Did you forget to prune the fields during winter in order to clean your machinery? All these actions compound on each other. For example, you can make a deliberate choice to not clean the casks to influence the flavor of the wine you produce. The game uses every mechanic at its disposal to give you both full control of the creation of the wine as well as making sure that you can’t control everything. I once experienced a winter season with non-stop snow, which prohibits you from pruning the vineyard, giving me a very dire next season in which I barely produced enough wine to stay in business. It’s these moments that give the player a chance to tell their own story with the wine they’re creating, very much akin to those you may read on the back of a wine label at your local supermarket.

That having been said, the Switch version of Hundred Days does run into some issues. I found the menus to be very confusing to navigate during most of my early time with the game. Only on my second run of the Endless mode did I realize I had to purchase new items, which are located in a separate menu from the upgradeable technologies. The game doesn’t do a fantastic job in communicating these things. What’s even more annoying is that when playing in Docked mode, the game’s controls can be rather unintuitive. In Handheld mode you can fully use the touchscreen and navigate the menus and actions on the board easily. But the controller options have a preset in which you can only navigate with the joystick and a couple of shortcuts located on the D-pad. I even found that the purchasing of new land, something you need to tap on with the touchscreen controls, is impossible to do with the controller itself. I do hope the developers take another look at the controller options on the Nintendo Switch, because I just found myself putting down the console and using only the touchscreen whenever possible.

Hundred Days is the definition of the saying: “You can’t rush perfection.” It does a phenomenal job as a strategy game by making you live through the hardships of the winemaking process. The game provides you with all the tools you need to create a great wine, but also teaches you how hard this actually is, and how little control you do have over it. This gameplay loop of figuring out how to improve your wines, and fighting against the overwhelming odds makes Hundred Days an absolutely unique experience on the Switch. I do hope that the game will be updated with additional controller options over time, because I can see myself playing Hundred Days for far longer than that title suggests.

Source link : Nintendoworldreport

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