One of the most common objectives in video games is to reach the end of the stage without the main character dying. The protagonist of EQQO has it harder than most, as he has to make sure a massive egg stays in one piece while blindfolded, in a tricky puzzle game with a short run-time and a few technical hitches that stand in the way of it being a truly memorable experience.
The main character of EQQO is an eponymous young boy who starts the game in a cage while wearing a blindfold. Things don’t get much better for Eqqo as he manages to escape the cage, but he is soon bequeathed a massive egg by a dying snake monster. It’s up to Eqqo to make sure that the egg stays safe, which involves traveling through a number of trap-filled temples and avoiding shadow monsters that want to devour the egg whole.
The player has the ability to tap the ground by pressing the touchscreen or using the Joy-Cons as a cursor. Eqqo will follow the noises and will interact with objects that are tapped. This is how the player interacts with the world, as they have to guide the blindfolded boy through locations. There are some items that the player can interact with directly, such as heavy objects that need to be moved or rocks that can be thrown at enemies, but the bulk of the work in the game world is done by the boy under the direction of the player.
EQQO is a game that is meant for mobile phones and VR, which will quickly become apparent to people playing it on the Switch. The camera controls feel awkward with either control method, as the game is meant to be played from a VR perspective. The controls are equally cumbersome and they are a detriment to the experience. The touchscreen controls feel very loose and the game has trouble determining whether the player wants to move the camera or interact with an object, while using the physical buttons feels very slow, especially when dragging items around the game world.
The aesthetics of EQQO are top-notch, with a beautiful game world and some genuinely creepy enemy designs. The fairy-tale narration of the story and the soothing soundtrack are also stellar and help elevate what would otherwise be a standard puzzle game.
The Puzzle Dilemma
The puzzles in EQQO are broken up into individual maps, with the goal of reaching the exit with the egg in one piece. The player needs to find the different camera positions in each room in order to see everything and use the environment to their advantage.
There are some clever puzzles in EQQO, but the game essentially reshuffles the deck with the same repeating elements over and over again. EQQO is a short game that runs from around five to seven hours, but the player should still get used to puzzles involving backtracking and raising and lowering things.
One issue that EQQO has is a lack of options for solving puzzles. The game has one solution in mind for each puzzle and won’t let you complete them in any other way, even if the player should be able to. This included one moment where Eqqo has to save the egg from a shadow monster that wants to eat it. It’s possible for the player to get the egg away from the monster, but the game wants the player to defeat the monster in another way, so the egg will just reappear in its hand in a cutscene, even though Eqqo has managed to save it. It’s a shame that the game is restrictive in this way, as it can be frustrating for puzzle solutions to not work just because the game says so.
Poking & Touching
EqqO has some smart puzzles and the gimmick of needing to protect the egg is a clever one. It’s clear that the game was made with other systems in mind and something has been lost in the transition from phone/VR to Nintendo Switch. EQQO has issues with its controls and the puzzles could use some variety, but it’s still a fun title and the technical shortcomings can be overlooked for the most part.
EqqO is a short game with a lot of creativity in its design. It’s worth checking out for those who want a unique puzzle experience on the Switch, so long as they are aware that there are some issues on the technical side of things that can make things more frustrating than they need to be.
A Switch copy of EQQO was purchased by TheGamer for this review. EQQO is available now for Nintendo Switch, Android, Oculus Go, and iOS.
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