This review focuses on the campaign aspect of the game only, and is not intended to be a review of the complete package.
Splatoon is one of Nintendo’s newest IPs to come in quite some time, with the original game hitting the Wii U two years ago. Given its success, a sequel was inevitable. Splatoon 2, much like its predecessor, is focused on the multiplayer aspect. While I enjoyed the single player campaign of the original, it definitely left me wanting more after the 5 hours it took to finish it. I’m glad to say the solo mode in Splatoon 2 offers more of the same- and then some.
Splatoon 2 is more of the same, but it’s definitely not a bad thing!
The plot, as with many games of this genre, is more or less just to give you a reason to hop around and shoot stuff. One of the previous game’s famed Squid Sisters, Callie, has gone missing along, and Marie (the other sister) enlists your aid in finding out what’s happened to her partner as well as the Great Zapfish powering the world. There’s a plot twist towards the end, but that’s about it.
For those who missed out on the Wii U title (and given that the Wii U wasn’t widely successful, that may be quite a few people), Splatoon’s gameplay is sort of a marriage between Super Mario Sunshine with its paintball gun mechanic and a traditional 3D platformer. Your character, known as an inkling, is a half human/half squid hybrid that can shift between forms seamlessly. This comes in handy while scaling platforms and hiding from adversaries, and you can swim through most terrain you mark up with your paint gun’s color.
These spotlight-wielding enemies can’t be picked off. They can, however, be climbed onto and used to reach higher areas and collectibles.
The bulk of the missions are strictly Point A to Point B affairs (with a boss waiting at the end of each hub), but it’s the wild variety of the levels themselves that make the experience so enjoyable. Splatoon 2 is constantly throwing new mechanics into the mix, be it giant rotating structures or invisible ground that can only be revealed by marking it up with paint. Not only that, but you’re given a ton of new guns to play with this time around. Standard blasters, dual handguns, long-range sniper like weapons, short-range paintbrushes and plenty more are introduced as you progress through the campaign. There’s even an incentive for clearing every stage with each individual weapon, encouraging replay even further (if time attacks and the two collectibles hidden in each wasn’t enough) in the form of “Hero” weapons that can be used in the online multiplayer.
Even the game’s several hub worlds provide the player with plenty to do, especially since the main levels have to be located before they can be played.
Even the five hub worlds themselves offer plenty to do. Aside from finding the main levels (cloaked all around these hubs), they offer their own pick-ups to seek out. Given that upgrading your weapons and ammo capacity is quite costly, thorough exploration is a must.
The creative gameplay mechanics that are being tossed your way almost constantly help make each level feel special, despite the goal always being the same. Here, you can’t see the floor. It can only be made visible by painting it with your weapon of choice. Careful planning is needed to assure you don’t fall to your death.
If there was one thing I didn’t care for about the solo mode of the original Splatoon, it’s that it was too short and simply too easy. Splatoon 2‘s solo mode ramps up the difficulty quite a bit in the later of the 32 stages, and those who seek to clear all the levels with the various weapons will be challenged immensely due to some weapons being best tailored to certain stages. Trying to clear a stage that was designed to make heavy use of long-range weapons can be quite a task with something like the dual pistols. I still feel as if it was mostly the environment and not actual enemies that claimed the most deaths from me, though. Most of the enemies (aside from a sniper and the octolings- who have the same moves as your character) are still push-overs. Solo is something anyone who’s had some experience with platform or third person action games can conquer, but the real challenge lies in seeking out all the collectibles (some of which are pretty well hidden) and using the different weapons in each stage.
Rolling balls that can one-shot you as they make their way across a number of rotating structures…don’t think you can just blow throw these levels.
Overall, the single player alone justified the purchase of Splatoon 2 to me (as my first game for my newly acquired Switch I might add). It’s still short and sweet, but there is plenty more to do and is far more challenging than Splatoon’s solo outing on the Wii U. The frequent barrage of new gameplay mechanics, many weapons (with a reason to replay levels over and over with each new addition), doubled number of in-stage collectibles, and higher difficulty has kept me coming back for more well after defeating the mode’s final boss.