Ready for rotate!
Rotating Brave is an action platformer that is designed specifically for a mobile phone. This is not being said as an insult or for any of the usual reasons you might think of. The central gimmick of Rotating Brave was designed specifically around a phone that can change its orientation between landscape and portrait. It’s a simple gimmick, but also one unique enough to set itself apart from other mobile games in the genre. There’s just one issue: this review is not talking about a mobile version.
In Rotating Brave you take control of a young warrior wielding two blades as he dives into the depths of a ruined shrine, trying to save his childhood friend who was inside the shrine during a massive calamity. The controls are simple: when on the ground you press A to jump, but pressing it again in midair will launch a spinning attack that can also slow your descent. Pressing the B button activates the special ability you have equipped, assuming it has been charged up enough to use.
Before every run you are able to purchase upgrades from a random set of three. These can give you abilities such as automatically attacking when you jump, which I regularly found to be one of the most useful things to have around. You can also purchase upgrades to your maximum health, or passive abilities such as gaining health back whenever you complete a level or have killed a certain number of enemies. These upgrades are not permanent and are lost once the run has ended. Once you’ve bought the upgrades you want, it’s time to leave camp and begin your descent through the dangerous shrine below. A run lasts until you die, and your run’s score is then added to an overall score that can unlock more currency for perks as well as new special abilities to equip.
Between every level in Rotating Brave the screen’s orientation must be changed. Arrows will appear on either side of the screen telling you which way to rotate, and the level will change from a vertical level to a more traditional horizontal one. This feature is interesting and gives the game a unique feel when compared to other short-burst action games of its kind, but on the Switch this causes inconveniences that are hard to ignore. The first is that Rotating Brave is just not possible to play while docked, which isn’t a dealbreaker, but it’s certainly disappointing in its own way. The second is that rotating the Switch itself is cumbersome and trying to play using the Joy-Con makes the game a hassle unless you have a solid surface to place the screen on. This second issue could potentially be solved by using the available touch screen controls, but I consistently found them less responsive than the Joy-Con whenever I used them.
Overall, Rotating Brave is still just fast-paced, action-packed fun. Moving around feels responsive and your character’s spinning attack feels solid when it connects with enemies, and in the end is there really anything else you need from a quick and mindless action game? It’s a shame that the bulk of the game’s potential is hidden underneath the very feature that makes it unique, but I personally did not find this to be the dealbreaker I expected it to be. Attempting run after run, slowly getting more used to the game and making it further and further each time feels satisfying even if just for a fleeting moment. This feeling combined with the beautiful art and driving soundtrack made me eager to jump back in for my next go mere seconds after each death. If you’re in the market for a game you can pick up to play for a few quick minutes before getting back to work, Rotating Brave may be the game that can fit the bill.