Reviewed on Nintendo SwitchAlso available on PC, Apple Mac, Microsoft Xbox and Linux
Unspottable is a competitive couch party game from London/Paris based indie studio GrosChevaux. Players need to root out the other plays and punch them before they get punched themselves. This is no brawler nor a test of your reactions; instead, it's more like hide-and-seek. And in Unstoppable, you hide in plain sight.
That's because the AI robots and the player-controlled characters are all identical, meaning that while you can always see who you're controlling, it's not always easy to tell who the other players are. Except when they throw a punch, then it becomes obvious to everyone, thanks to some shifty looks from left to right from the puncher, along with either a knocked out player on the ground or the faint sparks coming from a fallen robot.
The controls are easy enough for anyone to pick up, with a button to punch (A on the Switch) along with a sprint option, but that's about it. Barring some special abilities, you're using a joypad and a couple of face buttons at most. This means it's as easy to play with a Joy-Con as it is a Pro controller or any old GameCube controllers you have. This is in no way a bad thing; couch party games should be accessible to anyone and be easy to pick up and play. The skill in Unspottable comes from balancing risk vs reward, and with each map offering a different challenge, there's no way definitive way to play.
With the action viewed from above; the map is filled with a plethora of cartoonish clones who react differently according to the environment. In Meadow, the simplest level in the game, robots stand still, walk and run around a field, before shutting down, presumably of boredom. Compare that with Factory's panicked jostling, where quarters of the map are flattened by machines throughout.
Anyone who has played a stealth game knows that even though we want to be stealthy, sometimes pure, illogical aggression is the only way to play. But on a game where everyone can see everything that happens, one wrong move can leave you dangerously exposed. There should always be an out, an option of escape if your cunning plan turns into an embarrassing swing at a helpless robot in front of everyone else.
It's these opportunities to blend back into the crowd, to hide even while eyes are on you, where Unstoppable starts to really get going. It's satisfying never to be spotted by the people you're playing with, winning the round like an expert ninja, moving in the shadows. But it's so much more fun to throw a punch and expose yourself, before using the environment or a special ability to blend back into the crowd.
Those special abilities only appear on a few maps and while they give you an easy out, be that teleporting you and a couple of robots across the map, or zooming the camera in on a crying child or a mouse scuttling across the Sushi Bar floor, giving you a small window to sneak out of sight and blend back into a group of robots.
My only real gripe that I have with Unspottable is how inaccessible the game is to me, due to the fact I live alone. Ideally, I would've wanted to play with a full party of four, but due to lockdown restrictions in the UK that was pretty hard to do, so I had to settle for a few rounds of two-player action and some three-player games.
While I understand and to an extent admire GrosChevaux's decision to make sure everyone playing the game is in the same room, in the current climate I'm unable to come back to Unspottable until the situation in the UK continues. The developers want people to experience the game in the way it's meant to be played, even if that means fewer people getting to play it. This is a game that should be shared, but with 2021 looking as bleak as 2020 in terms of isolation, a local-only multiplayer title is going to struggle to break through.
Ultimately, I came away from my time with Unspottable wanting to play more, but not knowing when I would be able to. It's currently £9.99 on the Nintendo eShop, and if you have enough people in your household to play with, I would go and buy it right now. You will have an enormous amount of fun with this game and will be getting your money's worth. But gaming in 2021 looks differently for everyone, and if you're unlikely to meet up with any of your friends you would game with any time soon, you should give this a miss - at least for now.
Unspottable is out now on Microsoft Xbox, Nintendo Switch and Steam, with a PlayStation port in the works.