Varion is a top-down multiplayer shooter where players bounce shots off walls to survive in chaotic, maze-like arenas. On paper, Varion seems like a great package. There are several modes, maps, and even a singleplayer challenge mode. However, a few of these modes are duds, the maps are repetitive, and the challenges are a bore. Varion’s main offering–competitive, ricochet-based shooting–is downright fun, but as a whole, Varion struggles to surpass its own setbacks.
Things are frenzied and complicated at first, but Varion opens up once you get a handle on shooting and dodging. Rather than direct encounters, most battles play out as siege warfare. You will peak out of cover for a split second and try to hit a shot off a wall so that it bounces towards your opponents. Don’t expect success if you try to Rambo it up and take everyone down from the middle of the battlefield. Hanging out in the open only serves to make you a very attractive target.
This mechanic ends up turning Varion into a very territorial game. Find a well-defended corner, and make sure no scrambling enemies manage to force you out. Strategies like this are viable throughout the game’s fairly generic modes such as Survival and Deathmatch. Some of the Varion’s best scenarios are where you and three friends are each trapped in respective corners, carefully taking the most measured shots possible. The nature of the maps means that you can almost always line up a perfect shot from anywhere in the arena. Consequently, you always have to have an eye on everything happening on-screen, just in case one of your friends tries to pull a surprise shot on you.
There are a few ways that Varion drops the ball. The singleplayer challenges are a repetitive disappointment, and a multiplayer mode, Bot Hunt, is a bore. Bot Hunt has a cool concept where the arena floods with enemies and players race to kill the most. Unfortunately, there is nowhere near enough action on screen for this mode to be any fun at all. Throughout the entire game, the weird camera angle makes it unnecessarily hard to line up shots. This is a critical drawback in a game about perfectly-lined up shots. Finally, the game’s looks are quite uninspired and boring. Altogether, these flaws hold the game back considerably.
Despite all that, Varion is a fairly unique and pretty fun multiplayer game. It may be worth a look if you are wanting something new and are okay with a fairly light package. Deathmatches are a lot of fun, dodging to just barely avoid a shot is exhilarating, and bouncing a laser off the wall to knock your friend out takes a satisfying degree of precision. While it is hard to recommend Varion over the rest of the Switch’s fastly-improving local multiplayer catalog, you could certainly do much, much worse.