It's not often that we see surprise games coming to market, of which nothing is known, announced and released at the same time. Obviously this can only happen with "minor" products and that perhaps this type of management can instill some doubts about the actual quality, but with our review by The Stretchers for Nintendo Switch we will try to cheer you up: in this case, in fact, the surprise is not only welcome, but also completely advisable if you are interested in an experience preferably to be shared with another player, strictly in a cooperative club on the same sofa, like in the good old days.
The developer behind The Stretchers is Tarsier Studios, a Swedish team with a lot of experience alongside Sony gained by contributing to the development of the Little Big Planet series and the conversion of Teraway on PS4. The main projects so far, however, have been the beautiful Statik for PSVR and the excellent Little Nightmares, which have evidently given Tarsier credit for giving life to a game produced directly by Nintendo itself. The Stretchers, as mentioned above, clearly has as its primary objective to offer a "family" game specifically addressed to be used in double. Although in fact the single player is also possible, it is extremely evidently a makeshift alternative, which does not allow you to fully appreciate the gameplay as it was designed.
The protagonists are two stretcher bearers. Yes that's right, the very ones carrying the sick and injured. In this case, the two heroes, who can be male or female by choice, find themselves having to face a health emergency: most of the inhabitants of the country town where they work have in fact been affected by a mysterious form of daze, which requires special treatment using a futuristic medical machine, the Cur-o-matic. The goal is therefore to collect all the sick people present in a specific area on the stretcher, preferably together and at the same time, load them on the ambulance and bring them back to the operational base to allow them to receive the necessary treatment. Of course, not everything is as easy as it seems. The various areas in which the individual missions take place are in fact full of dangers, setbacks and traps, and it is up to the players to manage everything in the best possible way to bring home the best result. In the gameplay economy, a fundamental role is played by physics: The Stretchers in fact exploits this aspect to propose a fresh and fun formula, with the ragdoll that manages the behaviors of the inert bodies of the poor unfortunates and with the objects to interact with that respond in a realistic way to the solicitations of the stretcher-bearers.
The gameplay basically consists of two distinct phases: the one aboard the ambulance and the one during the actual missions. In the first, you have to drive the vehicle inside the playing area, a small one openworld in essence, to reach well-marked points on the map in which to face the various tasks. Only one of the two controls the ambulance, but the companion can take an active part by managing, for example, the turbo, which can be unlocked very soon. The humor, the nonsense, the over the top are the basis of the experience of The Stretchers, as well as a fundamental component that shines through at all times: the raids on the autolettiga ignore any rule of the road, inviting to tear down walls, fences, trees and whatnot, take ramps at full speed making jumps to make KITT of Supercar pale, obviously all on the tablet. The main missions then take place in compact and delimited areas where the various stunned to help are found: the areas themselves are a small condensation of game design with puzzles and elements to discover and interact with, often with the need to get active as a couple. Too bad that the locations are reused several times, and despite the fact that in any case there are variations in the development of the individual missions, it ends up showing a bit of repetitiveness. This is however mitigated by the secondary missions, which require you to abandon the use of the litter to face different tasks, but always in coordination between the two protagonists: perhaps sawing some trees, planting flowers or transporting explosive devices, just to understand.
In short, The Stretchers is undoubtedly a successful product, with some imperfections that in any case do not compromise the final result too much: for example, the detection of the interaction with objects is not always perfect, especially if there are several close to each other. and some slowdowns e frame drops, even with a polygonal complexity that is anything but impressive, they denote an improvement that can be improved. The graphic style, however, is good, colorful and captivating; from our point of view only the character design could have been more accurate, but it is a fairly subjective factor. The overall duration of the adventure, around 6-7 hours, appears appropriate compared to the price sale of € 19,99.
The Stretchers is a valid and welcome addition to the Switch offer that strengthens that slice of the catalog of the Nintendo hybrid console mainly dedicated to the two-player game in local multiplayer. Although in fact the fatigue of Tarsier Studios can also be faced single, it is clear that it is in couple that shows the best of itself, guaranteeing a fun, carefree and very pleasant adventure to share with friends, partners or relatives.
- Fun and crazy
- Good variety of situations
- Very hilarious in co-op with another player
- Much less interesting in single
- Some object detection problems
- Technically with some uncertainties