32 Secs

Platform(s): Android, Nintendo Switch, iOS
Genre: Racing
Publisher: IsTom Games
Developer: IsTom Games
Release Date: May 27, 2021


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Switch Review - '32 Secs'

by Cody Medellin on Aug. 6, 2021 @ 12:30 a.m. PDT

32 Secs takes players on a high-speed experience as they race through traffic in a futuristic city's highways with a cyber-motorcycle, completing various trials and challenges along the way.

The stigma of mobile games being ported to the PC or a dedicated console has been shattered quite a while ago. Thanks to smart decisions in the porting process and advancements in mobile game development, titles like Alto's Adventures, Grindstone and Oceanhorn have proven to gamers that the mobile space is home to some gems. There are some mobile ports that make lackluster attempts at fitting in on the new platform. Unfortunately, 32 Secs falls into the latter category instead of the former.

After sitting through the loading screen, you start the game without any context, aside from a title screen that alludes to a futuristic cyberpunk setting. There's no tutorial to teach you the ropes unless you dig through the options to locate it in the middle of other options. You must choose a spot as your headquarters and then select one of many markers on the map, review the goals, and start racing. Some of the goals are simple, such as collecting coins or data cubes. Other goals require diving over a specific color of track or driving a certain distance. A few are more involved, asking you to knock out X number of vehicles or perform hacks while near some cars. Completing each mission grants XP for leveling up and some coins that can be used to upgrade your bike, change the bike's aesthetics, or buy a new vehicle. Either way, the completion of any track provides no insight about what's going on.

Once you select your course, you're immediately thrown on the track, where you'll notice one of the big holdovers from the mobile version: automatic acceleration. Unlike almost every other racing game on the system, 32 Secs takes care of pressing the gas pedal for you, and while some may find that convenient since the button is always pressed down in an arcade-style racing title, others will be dismayed that there's no option to shut it off. For those looking for full vehicle control, that's a big warning sign.

No matter which track you choose, the layout is mostly the same. Tracks are mostly straightforward affairs, so even though they have peaks and valleys, there are no turns to worry about. The courses are six lanes wide and filled with civilian traffic, ranging from sedans to wide trucks. While you can't bump into cars, you can bump into red motorcycles and drones that provide a nitro boost. You can deftly avoid colliding into other vehicles to get a similar nitro boost, which goes well in conjunction with the blue arrow strips on the road, which also provide a temporary speed boost. Aside from other traffic, there are cops on the road, and they'll give chase if you catch their attention. Crash into a car or obstacle or get caught by the cops and you'll fail, but you can keep your XP and coins from the run.

Aside from the automatic acceleration, the rest of the on-track gameplay feels rather dire. Even though 32 Secs is set in the future, you never get the sense that you're moving fast. Whether you're accelerating normally or using boosts, it feels like your bike doesn't go faster than modern cars in other racing titles. Switching lanes also feels quite terrible, as your vehicle is sluggish, so darting from lane to lane feels laborious instead of cool and dangerous, whether you're using the analog stick and buttons or the touch-screen; this is a pity since the game feels quite responsive on phones and tablets. Crashing into other bikes and drones practically grinds you to a halt. The indicators to detect the proximity of cops aren't very clear, and it's laughable when you get stopped since the only thing blocking you is a drone, which you could easily crash into. The other indicators for nitro availability are also difficult to read, so you end up ignoring them and mashing buttons in the hopes that something will happen.

Things don't fare much better with other gameplay mechanics. Navigating the map can feel like a chore, since the movable cursor feels finicky and the hotspots for each icon don't respond as intended most of the time. Objectives may seem clear when you pick a stage, but the UI is spread out so far that you don't know how you're doing on a mission. When you finish a track, there's no fanfare; the level abruptly ends without warning.

Even if one didn't mind these issues, the pacing breaks the game. The aforementioned lack of story means that going from one event to another and completing objectives lacks meaning, so you're dissuaded from progressing. You aren't awarded too many coins for leveling up or completing tracks, and upgrading your bike seems like a fool's errand since it doesn't seem to have an impact on your racing. As for buying new bikes, the game has removed microtransactions, but it didn't get rebalanced to account for that. As a result, you'll spend a ton of time grinding to feel like you've finally gotten something better.

Despite these negatives, 32 Secs features a decent presentation. The graphics are rather nice, if a little basic, thanks to the extensive use of neon color and a solid frame rate throughout each event. The vehicle designs and backdrops don't go beyond generic, but they work fine. The soundtrack is nice even if it's nothing special. A few tracks work as futuristic background music. The effects sound muted, and the voice sample for the cops pulling you over or indicating that they're giving chase sounds phoned in.

32 Secs might work fine as a mobile title, but it doesn't feel like much was done to ensure that it would be a good fit for the Nintendo Switch. From the lack of an overall objective to an intense amount of grind, it feels exactly like the mobile game but with a higher price tag to replace microtransactions. The Switch may not be the first platform for racing games, but racing fans should look elsewhere to get their fix.

Score: 4.0/10

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