Title: Full Quiet
Developer: Retrotainment Games (Developer); 8-Bit Legit (Publisher)
Release Date: July 7, 2023
Reviewed on: Switch
Price: $9.99 (Digital)
The Nintendo Entertainment System’s final licensed game arrived in 1994. This signaled the end of a nine-year run. But unlike many other consoles, the NES has not fallen silent. A number of dedicated homebrewers have set out to create their own games, often pushing the console’s technical limits and finding work-arounds to help it punch above its weight.
Full Quiet may be the most impressive game from this school: the environments are striking and richly colorful, the parallax scrolling is possibly the best on the system, and the map is larger and more detailed than you may expect. The game has a full day night cycle: rather than being a flip switched between day and night, it’s a slowly progressing clock with unique color-grading throughout. This would be impressive enough in a game meant for modern hardware; that it runs natively on a NES is an act of wizardry.
Full Quiet takes place in a post-apocalyptic world where the only known survivors are ham radio enthusiasts in the deep woods. Their network goes down, isolating the survivors. You work to restore the system, desperately trying to reunite with your son.
Disclosure: Boss Rush Network received a review code for the Switch version of Full Quiet. Neither Retrotainment Games nor 8-Bit Legit made any stipulations upon this review, nor did they or any representatives read it prior to publication.
Full Quiet is a side-scrolling metroidvania. In that vein, it features a complex, interconnected map. The player must navigate each screen to find the connections, gear, and solutions they need.
To do so, players are given a dizzying number of options for an NES game: not only can you jump, crouch, and shoot, you can dodge roll, mantle, ledge hang, ledge swing, and more.
Navigation is largely smooth, but the jump and the ledge mechanics are sticking points. The jump is somewhere between Castlevania’s (1986) fixed jump and the style of jump found in the original Metroid (1986). It’s generally not a problem, but when you reach a portion asking for pixel-perfect jumps, it’s infuriating. Predicting the ledge grab’s timing is difficult, and I never felt entirely in control of whether it would work or not. In the early areas this is only an inconvenience, but when your life is on the line it’s deeply frustrating.
The enemy respawn and attack rates are greatly overclocked. That enemies return every time you enter a screen would not be a problem, but they also respawn every time you enter and leave a puzzle screen. You can and will be smacked by enemies when resetting a puzzle or even when looking in on a screen for clues or to check your progress.
This did not need to be a problem. Metroid has an enemy respawn rate which makes Full Quiet’s look like kid stuff, with enemies returning the moment you reenter their area of a room. But Metroid’s enemies are spaced out to enable two different play styles. A cautious player can explore and advance bit by bit, dealing with threats as they arise. A daring player can blast through to the end, dodging. Metroid’s areas are generally wide, and provide many different platforms for the player to use. Full Quiet’s flaw is that enemies are so aggressive, and so many paths are tight and offer no alternate ledges or paths, that there is no strategy; enemies take a variation on rushing for the player’s face, sometimes from off-screen, with no real chance to respond either with strategy or reflexes.
Puzzles & Minigames
The puzzles that ask you to operate radios and other equipment are a great deal of fun. They’re interesting logic puzzles, and often require a pad of paper. They’re interesting, well-constructed, and thematically relevant.
Unfortunately, there is another kind of puzzle. There is a repeated wire repair minigame (think Bioshock’s hacking), which asks you to complete a circuit by connecting the ends of wires. This minigame has an incredibly short window to complete it, and if you fail you take health damage. Often by the time I got my bearings on the puzzle, which resets into different positions each time, I would fail and be kicked out.
I was lucky enough to have another player with me. She is a puzzle fiend. She could usually solve these just as they were about to time-out. The puzzles are flawed because they are not aimed toward someone who is competent at puzzles like these, but aimed at people who are amazing at them. This would be fine in a dedicated puzzle game, but they’re a headache as a minor element in a metroidvania.
At its best, Full Quiet is one of the greatest games on the platform. There are few games its equal in beauty, and in the technical feats it achieves.
Full Quiet’s greatest flaw is frustration. Issues pile up. Individually, none of them are fatal. Together, they drag the game down greatly. The awkward jump, the all the more awkward ledge climbing, fleeting puzzle time limits, and aggressive enemy respawn all drag what could have been a true 5/5 to somewhere in the middle.
If you want to play a technically impressive metroidvania with a unique approach, and don’t mind rough edges, Full Quiet is for you.
Featured Image: 8-Bit Legit
The Boss Rush Podcast: The Flagship Podcast of Boss Rush Media and the Boss Rush Network
The Boss Rush Podcast – The Boss Rush Podcast is the flagship podcast of Boss Rush Media and the Boss Rush Network. Each week, Corey, Stephanie, LeRon, and their friends from around the internet come together with other creators, developers, and industry veterans to talk about games they’ve been playing, discuss video game and entertainment based topics, and answer questions solicited on social media and the community Discord. New episodes of the Boss Rush Podcast release every Monday morning on YouTube and all major podcast applications like Apple Podcasts and Spotify. Patreon supporters gain one week early access.