Breaking the Mold
The Nintendo Switch is dominated with a lot of games that don’t hold your attention for more than a lazy afternoon or are just quick mobile ports to get a few extra dollars. With all of this shovelware to dig through, most people will just scroll right past them and wait for the more high-profile releases.
Doing so would cause you to miss out on the most unique franchise that’s made its way to the eShop: OPUS. These series made a name for itself on mobile devices and has gained a following on the Nintendo Switch as well. Hot on the heels of our review for Rocket of Whispers, we’re breaking down what makes the series so great, why it became one of the best mobile franchises in our minds, and why you need to play it for yourself. To help out our analysis, we interviewed Sam Chen of Sigono Games to give us more detailed information about the game.
A Clear Vision
A lot of indie and mobile games suffer from not having a clear vision of what they want to be. Many titles are bogged down by a poor realization of their mechanics or trying to do too many things at once. This is where the OPUS series excels.
Before Sigono Games started developing their games, they had a clear vision of what they were trying to achieve: to bring story-driven experiences to mobile devices. Because of this, the OPUS games feel complete. From start to finish, they demand your attention in the narrative and want to have you feeling a rollercoaster of emotions along the way.
Further enhancing this design choice is the fact that Sigono Games took direct inspiration from short stories for both The Day We Found Earth and Rocket of Whispers. As Sam described to us, “The OPUS series was designed to be finished in a night or two, like an easy read.” Mobile games don’t have the luxury of keeping players invested for more than a few days, and Sigono Games used this to their advantage rather than making the games too long for the medium.
The Little Touches in Between
With the focus on a narrative experience, Sigono Games had to justify turning the OPUS series into a game. If it was just a series of cutscenes where players are reading through lines of text, it might as well have been a book. Because OPUS is a video game series, there has to be a level of interactivity that keeps players engaged.
This is another area where Sigono excelled. In The Day We Found Earth, you have to use a telescope to search for a planet among the stars. In Rocket of Whispers, you have to scour neighboring towns to look for parts to build a rocket. These would be mundane tasks on any other occasion, but the games use the narrative to give the player motivation to keep pressing on in the hopes of helping the characters achieve their goal- which is further bolstered by having the games only take a few short hours. Any longer, and they would become extremely repetitive.
All About the Subtext
There are a lot of games that have a deep level of lore. Most of them will force feed the information to you through exposition, while others take a more nuanced approach. OPUS understands that it doesn’t have the time to sit players down through the history of the world, so it buries the information in extra items hidden throughout the game (similar to the Dark Souls franchise).
This approach to game design allows the players only there for the story to get the bare minimum experience and nothing more. At the same time, those who want a bit more information with their narrative have the option to explore it.
All This at a Rock Solid Price
While both of the OPUS games are great, they’re a bit pricey at $8.99 each on the Nintendo Switch. That said, if you’re willing to not play on the TV, they’re available on mobile devices for about $3 a piece, making it easy to invest a few dollars for a story worth exploring.
Incredible Indies – the OPUS Series
The OPUS series is full of heartwarming, loosely-connected tales that have brought a new angle on what mobile games could achieve. They’re a shining example of working within limitations while going above and beyond the competition. They’re great on mobile devices, and they’re great on the Nintendo Switch.
A special thanks to Sam Chen for giving us time to answer our questions.
Editor’s Note: Joshua had the opportunity to review both OPUS titles for Switch Era. For more on these wonderful games, check out his review for OPUS: Rocket of Whispers here and his review for OPUS: The Day We Found Earth here.