Save for Neon Genesis Evangelion’s tormented protagonist Ikari Shinji, many of us have an insatiable longing to pilot mecha. Rooted in the thrill of commandeering hulking military machinery outfitted with machine guns and homing missiles, games are one of the few outlets for indulging this power fantasy. With the release of Project Nimbus Complete Edition for the Switch, these desires are destined to be fulfilled.
Developed by an independent studio, Nimbus is remarkable ambitious. You won’t find any of the burly bipedal tanks of BattleTech here. The game’s Battle Frames are highly maneuverable and delightfully responsive, able to hover and dart around like massive hummingbirds. Heading into the game’s interactive tutorial imparts most of the fundamentals needed for survival. But unsurprisingly, experience will prove to be the most important resource, across Nimbus’ multi-part campaign as well as Survival, and faction-based Warfront modes.
Beyond being able to zip around in three-dimensional space, Nimbus’ Frames can dash in any direction, which is imperative when a missile is headed your way. When an enemy salvo is inbound, you can launch countermeasures that will fool the enemy projectiles, or you can even shoot some of them right out of the sky with guns.
Nimbus focuses on ranged combat, so those hope to swing a two-ton plasma blade might have to recalibrate their expectations. While loadouts vary from mech to mech, you’ll spend the majority of your time locking on to foes, before letting loose with machine guns, missiles, drones, and rail guns. Each type of ordnance has a distinctive advantage, with MG fire able to quickly scuttle encroaching warheads, railgun fire is adept at taking down fortified frames, and drone and smart missile are pleasingly autonomous.
As a pilot, you’ll need to master your mech’s weapon systems. Not only does each weapon have a different capacity and reload period, but your HUD doesn’t display names. While it might be inconvenient at first, it’s consistent with animated depictions of mech piloting. Once you do memorize and select armaments, you’ll feel like a veteran pilot, which is one of the best parts of Nimbus’ experience.
You’ll also acquire a number of combat techniques. Painting a cluster of nearby enemies before letting loose with a barrage of ballistics feels immensely satisfying, especially as you watch a contrail form in your missiles’ wake. Flawlessly issuing a procession of flares, thwarting incoming fire is another satisfying sensation. Mercifully, you’ll be alerted to hits on your HUD, as most of the time, foes are just tiny dots on your radar, much like the Ace Combat series.
Much like Bandai Namco’s flight franchise, campaign missions are bookended by cinematics and voice acting. Mission orders are depicted in futuristic, ambiguous hologram-like cinematics that don’t depict any human characters or even offer any CG mecha-porn. While that soils the sense of immersion, the game’s writing most likely won’t be nominated for a Hugo. It’s serviceable, with the kind of faction-based conflict that should appease Gundam die-hards. And at least the actors trying to correctly pronounce Japanese words, making it better than most dubbed performances.
But largely, Project Nimbus Complete Edition succumbs to the same blemish that weakens many mechanized combat titles. Beyond homogeneity in Frame function, missions can grow a bit tedious. Most of the time you’ll be tasked with eliminating enemies. Save for the sporadic protection assignment, this is the bulk of Nimbus’ tasks. Although different mission locations help to hide the repetition (and provide cover to hide behind), there’s an overuse of smallish floating structures.
With the release of Daemon X Machina imminent, you might be craving some mech-based combat on your Switch. Certainly, you shouldn’t overlook Project Nimbus Complete Edition. While the storytelling is unexceptional, jumping into a Battle Frame feels good and controls splendidly. Coupled by a solid visual delivery with an unswerving framerate, Nimbus will be appreciated by mecha maniacs.
Project Nimbus Complete Edition was played on
Switch with review code provided by the publisher.