Plunge is a fun puzzler, but it’s tough. The game’s setup is a loose story about a prisoner named, Billie, who is one of millions in a mega-prison. I say “loosely” because it’s only enough of a rough setup to indicate what the setting and characters are. This game is less story-driven than it is driven by its puzzles and comic book style animation.
Plunge is a monochromatic world with small pops of color throughout. The characters have heavy outlines and colorful tattoos. It’s all stunning in its cartoonish way. Billie—and the other prisoners you later unlock—have their own advantages, such as differing HP and armor stats.
Each floor of the prison is a gridded puzzle, and your prisoner can move from one end of it to another in high-speed. It takes some strategy to figure out how to reach the points you want to on each floor. Each move isn’t one or two grid spaces, they are full range steps from complete ends of the puzzle each time—barring any obstacles or barriers in your way. NPCs vary between heavily armored beings and wolves who are out to attack you on each floor of the prison. Most require being one block away from you to attack, but a couple of enemies do have ranged attacks that take a lot of damage. As you move, they move, giving you some leverage if you want to trick them onto a grid of spikes, or move around them quickly. You don’t have to take out all of the enemies, you just have to get the key to unlock the door on each floor. The key releases a hatch so you can plunge to the floor beneath and keep going.
The way you move across each isometric puzzle works really well for adding some difficulty, but the grid is placed diagonally on the map, so your movements aren’t just a simple left-right-up-down. With the Joy-Cons this was fairly easy, but occasionally I would trap myself in a corner when trying to escape because the Joy-Con didn’t realize I was aiming for the bottom-left space and not left into the wall behind me. My lack of precision got me into trouble on numerous occasions.
Every few floors or so, you run into someone who can supply you with stat upgrades in the form of special abilities or even an increase in health. What is offered by these “vendors” is randomized, so you’re not guaranteed the same advantages each time you play through. This is also why it took me several tries just to get to level 30, which was ultimately my personal best. I just couldn’t get through as much as I wanted to before I finally gave up.
Something I should note about Plunge is the actual plunge between floors. The animation of it caused slight motion sickness for me. I don’t consider myself to be all that susceptible to motion sickness, but the animation caused the entire floor to move in waves and shake upon impact. It was intentionally designed, but I worry that this game might cause some uneasiness for others. It’s a captivating style, but your movements are so fast as well as shocking to the foundation you stand on, that it’s a lot to take in. In handheld mode that feeling isn’t as prevalent as it might on a large TV screen.
Plunge is definitely a fun puzzler, if not pretty difficult. For $7.99 USD, I definitely recommend this title to others. It’s a great time killer and a fun concept overall.
Review: Plunge (Nintendo Switch)
Setting aside some motion sickness from playing with the Nintendo Switch docked – and the overall strangeness of playing a grid-based puzzle from a diagonally forced perspective – Plunge is a fun take on an action puzzler.