The first-person shooter library on the Nintendo Switch is pretty shallow. Many titles, like Apex Legends, Call of Duty, and various other big AAA games have mostly skipped the platform. But others, like Payday 2 and now Rico, have made fair attempts to provide the platform with FPS titles to fill the void. Rico is essentially a first-person shooter action game with roguelike elements in a procedurally generated environment (what a mouthful). It features online multiplayer and split-screen co-op but can also be played single player, and it emphasizes action-packed gunfights and slow-motion action.
There isn’t much story in Rico, but it actually sets the game up fairly well. There’s a new law put into place allowing officers from various agencies to infiltrate criminal hideouts in the effort to bust and disrupt their operations. This also opens up a number of different game modes, with daily challenges, climbing leaderboards, and long and quickplay cases.
The main mechanic in Rico is the ability to slow down time when kicking in doors. In games like Max Payne, bullet time is obtained and enacted when needed. However, in Rico, these instances are somewhat random. Kicking in a door will slow things down automatically, allowing you to pick off enemy onlookers who are caught off guard. Each area that you enter has a number of randomized rooms within a building. This means that rooms, enemies, and placement of evidence are different each go-around.
Clearing a list of tasks in each area earns you merits. These include things like disarming bombs, obtaining evidence, and destroying assets. Completing these challenges will pay out more merits to use for new weapon and character upgrades. Things like extended clips and flashlight mods can be added to your pistols and Uzi.
Room randomization attempts to keep the gameplay fresh, but the roguelike elements also become a problem in places. When you die during a stage, all of your weapon upgrades and previous progress are lost. This initially played out fairly well, riling me up for the next go-around. But when this design started to break down during each one of my playthroughs, it riled up frustration instead of excitement to return as a more seasoned officer. The momentum is better kept when you have a buddy online to ease the panic when enemies flood the screen.
Another oversight is, with the randomly generated levels, there were more than a few times where evidence needed for a task was placed behind a table and not reachable. Since there is no jump button in the game, I was left to back out of the level and abort. I only happened to experience this in single player though.
The gunplay starts to feel a lot better after a few hours. At that point, I felt seasoned enough to run through the case missions. These are missions where you play through multiple levels and clear buildings, having higher-difficulty areas. The part that really starts to cheapen these areas comes with the layers of additional tasks added as the mission goes on.
At times the entire checklist of items is laid out in front of you: Get 20 enemy headshots, disarm two bombs, collect evidence, etc. This is fairly doable considering new doors unlock as you clear each room and disable door locks. However, there are times when additional bombs must be disarmed even though you’ve gone and cleared each floor. When this happens towards the end of a level as reinforcements are on their way, it becomes more of a frustration than challenge. It’s just an unnecessary hindrance to single player progression. The deaths that come with these feel far cheaper due to the fact that there is really no control of them from level to level.
By comparison, playing with an online buddy makes missions more feasible to complete, almost making them too easy at times. However, bombs still lead to cheap deaths, now ending the run of two players instead of one.
Graphics and style are pretty OK
I enjoyed the visuals with their light cel-shaded style. I was also surprised to see breakable furniture and shelving throughout the game. Even fire extinguishers split and explode, releasing a cloud of white fog. Although, character models typically fall into only three generic categories: Russian mobsters, Asian mobsters, or tactical soldiers.
I initially thought the slowdown mechanic in Rico would get tiresome, doing it room after room. However, I ultimately didn’t really mind it. The feature to have a simultaneous countdown before breaching a door with a partner was cool to see. The multiplayer for the game has been fairly easy to pair up and move through clearing buildings. Although, the menus don’t have the biggest ease of use, often getting caught in the options at the top of the screen when you’re simply trying to ready up for the match.
Overall, Rico has quite a bit in terms of randomized levels and tasks to complete in its roguelike first-person shooter setting. However, the game trips over itself when random placements hinder level progression. These instances become more frustrating as level difficulty ramps up. Still, there’s a lot of potential with Rico. I wouldn’t mind revisiting the game after a patch or two. As it stands, its a nice addition to the online multiplayer shooter library on Nintendo Switch.
A review code was provided by the publisher.