How Metroidvania is it? Medium Fit. Fits the mini-metroidvania category perfectly but has an unusual set of ''character switching'' mechanics that makes it different.
Primary Challenge: Ranged Combat
Time to beat: ~2 hours
Review Info: The Steam review code for Mech Chip was provided by the developer.
Buy Mech Chip if you like…
- Concept Showcases
- Fast, Frantic Bosses
- Switching Characters (Suits)
- Minimalist Graphics
▼ Review continues below ▼
The “Mini-Metroidvania” is a growing category of Metroidvania Games that offer a one or two game night experience, giving a taste of what the genre has to offer without cutting into your other game time or your wallet. Mech Chip most certainly fits into that category, but between its unusual set of mechanics and substantial variety throughout, it doesn’t really feel like it’s “Metroidvania-lite” in the same way that some other Mini-Metroidvanias have. What I mean is that games like Mini Ghost and Spooky Ghosts Dot Com feel like compact versions of other games, while Mech Chip is definitely its own thing. Whether that’s “better” or “worse” is just dependent on what you’re looking for. Without making any comparisons however, Mech Chip offers up a fun little challenge that is most certainly worth a couple of hours of time.
The gimmick in Mech Chip is that you find these mechs hidden throughout the map that you can insert yourself into and control. Each has basically one function, so you’ll have to switch often to use each mech’s unique feature. For example, one mech can charge up a high jump that lets you access most of the game, and another mech has a bomb that opens up passageways. Each specific ability provides a “key” to other areas of the game, but most also have a secondary use that can be applied toward dispatching enemies and bosses (like that aforementioned bomb has the obvious application of blowing foes up.) Combat is where the game could have really excelled with this mech switching concept, but while the bosses are very well designed they also aren’t really setup to make use of all of your mechs. Or rather, most of them are completely destroyed by an upgraded version of one of your earlier mechs, making the other mechs kind of redundant in the boss room. The bosses get harder later on, but I always found myself coming back to a particular dominant strategy when trying to defeat them. Thankfully this strategy was still very fun to apply, but it was also a little bit disappointing when some of the other mechs look like they’d be fun to use if it didn’t take so much more skill to use them. As the saying goes, given the opportunity a player will optimize the fun out of everything.
The bosses are all unique and fun to fight, but the game does fall back on some repetition with some mini-bosses in the late game. You essentially have to fight the same boss three times, and ironically this mini-boss is the one case where my dominant strategy wasn’t effective. Learning to fight this boss was fun and satisfying, but having to do it three times wasn’t quite as interesting. Each fight was also draining on health resources, so to prevent a loss of progress I had to carefully inch my way back to the checkpoint after each one. I think that having a checkpoint after each mini-boss would help this section a lot. For the most part the difficulty of this game is challenging, but not frustrating – this section was a bit of an exception. Besides this one instance though, I think the level design and boss patterns in this game are great.
The most surprising thing about Mech Chip is the amount of variety it manages to pull off while still being minimalist in presentation. There are four distinct biomes throughout its world, and each actually has a level gimmick, which makes me somewhat estatic since many higher production value Metroidvanias have gone on without even managing that. I don’t want to list off everything you’ll see here since part of the fun of these games is the discovery of their worlds, but the music and said level gimmicks create an atmosphere makes each area feel different even if it doesn’t really look different. It makes it a delight to search for new places to see, and rewarding as you progress.
To keep the exploration interesting, the game also includes collectable data cubes for each of the monster types for you to discover. I find these somewhat amusing since they’re something of a trope in these games, but since this game is minimalist they consist solely of the name of the monster and a picture of them – no “lore” page to read, just a picture. They basically act as trophies to find, and that’s just fine with me. They encourage you to access bits of the game that you might not otherwise think to explore, and if you don’t want to spend the extra time they’re completely optional. Some of them are in areas that require you to combine the powers of your different mechs to reach, and you feel clever discovering these “advanced techniques” along the way. It’s similar to discovering some of the harder to pull off techniques in the later Metroid games. The only caveat to this is that switching mechs can be a little cumbersome since you have to pull up the switch wheel each time. Still, these optional pickups are a great way to showcase Mech Chip’s biggest strengths.
For a Mini-Metroidvania, Mech Chip offers a surprisingly meaty package. It’s by no means perfect, but I enjoyed all of my time with it. Even the parts that were less than optimal were short-lived; such is the beauty of the Mini-Metroidvania. Mech Chip is fun and very easy to fit into your schedule, and for that I think it’s worth a purchase.
Combat is fun, but maybe just a bit too fast and lopsided towards a few options that are available to you.
Platforming is about mixing up your Mechs to reach areas rather than challenging yourself with core mechanics
The world is non-linear with some fun collectables to find throughout, but it's not particularly vast
There aren're really any puzzles in this game
The minimalist presentation doesn't leave much for the story, but that also means there isn't anything to be disappointed by
Minimalist graphics do a great job conveying the action - though they could use a death animation or something when you die
Some of the music manages to set an atmosphere that would be otherwise impossible given the other presentation elements
Not a ton of reason to go back and play again other than personal speedrun challenges
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