I have this inclination that the team over at Daylight Studios has found a way to explore the multiverse, and in one of those parallel universes discovered that there existed living and sentient potatoes in place of human beings. It was this universe that would ultimately inspire the game developer to create the humorous, pun-filled potato games, including sending potatoes into space travel with Holy Potatoes! We’re in Space?! For the Nintendo Switch.
In this game you’ll join space faring pilots Cassie and Fay, the spunky sisters with all the sibling rivalry included on an intergalactic adventure to rescue their grandfather from the menacing organization, Eclipse. You’ll command your own ship, and with my Minnesotan upbringing, I aptly named mine the Tater Tot Hotdish to ensure I was in line with the plethora of potato puns!
The premise and overall mission of the game are outlined efficiently and creatively right away. You’ll essentially be galaxy hopping and planet exploring to collect new weapons, earn cash for ship upgrades, hiring crew, and more all while dodging the Eclipse’s chase against you. This element of the chase is also one of the more stress inducing, but highly strategic ‘push-your-luck’ features in the game. For every new galaxy/story mission you kick off, you’ll be given a countdown of how many Sols (days) you have until the Eclipse catch up with you. During this timeframe you’ll need to explore planets and battle enemies, all while managing your fuel and ship’s well-being. Failing any of these, and you’ll be reloading a save. Allow the Eclipse to catch up with you, and you’ll be in a hard to win battle. Never fear though, the game’s generous and clever save mechanic allows you to reload at one of 3 chosen auto-saved points depending on how you were fairing before, such as reloading from the last Hub station you were docked at, or reloading 1 Sol earlier.
With each galaxy visited, a hub station will be present on a planet. These stations are the lifeblood to maintaining and enhancing your ship and crew. Docking allows refueling and repairing automatically, and also many shops to interact with for various needs in your travels.
You’ll quickly be brought up to speed with the game’s core mechanisms as a turn-based tactical game, much akin to gameplay similarly found in FTL, but far simpler to manage. Upon exploring any planet, you’ll find that the scenario is split into two primary categories. The first being choose-your-own-adventure text style encounters that simply have you selecting responses to a certain situation or event. These often come with heavy pop culture influences tied to them and are relatively humorous. Without too many spoilers I can say I encountered Doctor Who, Firefly, and Pokémon inspired events within the first 30 minutes of gameplay. Some of these references definitely were subtler than others, but I found it a treat to try and figure out as many as possible.
The other half of the gameplay, and really the meat of the game, is the ship-to-ship turn-based combat. Here you’ll be selecting your weapons or special abilities from the pilots and blasting your opponents’ weapons and/or hull to smithereens. It’s a very straightforward system, but as the game progresses, it becomes rather apparent how crucial good weapons, ship upgrades and a solid crew can play a part in the outcome of any given battle. Should one of your weapons be destroyed in combat, it’s gone for good, and you’ll be forced to craft or acquire a new replacement, offering some lightweight roguelike mechanics interspersed throughout. In many battles you’ll also have an opportunity to show mercy and allow the enemy to escape when they are critically wounded in exchange for a very reasonable amount of cash. I found this option slightly confusing, as when I’d decline and choose to blow the enemy ship up, I wouldn’t net really anything different as far as I could tell. So easy cash and less battle damage to me was my go-to.
The game’s story missions each generally culminate into a Boss Battle in the same fashion as the standard planetary battles against other ships as well, though you’ll face much more competitive and well-armed opponents. Some of the early game bosses were definitely starting to feel stacked against me, but it was then that I realized I needed to spend a bit more time in a galaxy exploring planets and upgrading my weapons than I had been before. That push your luck mechanic really plays out more than I had originally anticipated, and finding just the right balance for how long to stick around in a galaxy before the Eclipse find their way to you is definitely critical to success.
Holy Potatoes! We’re in Space?! continues to shine with its humorous stories and random encounter event antics. Some may find the humor to be a bit juvenile, but I really enjoyed all of it. It was tasteful, quirky and really did fit the overall tone of the game. For me the inclusion of so many nerd/geek/pop culture references also made the stories and events a lot more appealing and fun to see them translated into the Potato universe. There’s a reasonably good balance of the game playing off the potato nature without overdoing it so much that it becomes an annoyance, and that writing balance certainly makes this game thrive for the better.
The art style comes across well in that it’s vibrant and cartoony with nicely defined textures and details in the 2D space. Nothing ever felt too muddy or inconsistent. I even loved the nod to Star Trek’s interface style in the Pause Menu. Interacting with the UI does require a slight learning curve when using the buttons & controls sticks of the Joy-Cons, but it’s not unreasonably difficult to use. The game functions perfectly in touch mode as well and that’s been a bit more refined given the game’s history on mobile platforms.
Journeying around the universe with Cassie, Fay, and a whole cast of fun potato and vegetable themed characters is a creative treat. The core gameplay loop is well defined early on, and easy to become accustomed to. While there isn’t a lot of depth to the spaceship combat, I actually feel that if it had been more complex, the game would have felt unnaturally convoluted. It’s worth mentioning the game also includes a less stressful casual exploration mode to play as well. For some it will become a bit too repetitive and boredom may set in, but for me, it’s a solid package of battle to upgrade to battle again, and really well situated for the Nintendo Switch. I can with certainty say that Holy Potatoes! We’re in Space?! is the definitive game to play if you’re looking to experience a strategic space traveling quirky fun game with vegetable people!
Holy Potatoes! We're In Space?! Review
Final Thoughts: GOOD
Holy Potatoes! We’re in Space?! brings an easy to learn, but difficult to master turn-based strategy space game to the Nintendo Switch. It includes a quirky cast of vegetable-themed characters and plenty of puns to go with it. Gameplay can get repetitive as there isn’t a ton of depth, but this is mitigated by a slew of customization and upgrade options along with well-planned missions to create a solid experience.
Alex has been actively gaming since the release of the Nintendo. Turning passion into profession, he’s spent just over a decade in game development, and is currently the Creative Director at a studio.