Screen Cheat Unplugged

I’ve never been a huge fan of split-screen games. In my youth I always thought to myself that maybe the screen size was just to small for me to focus and assumed my opinion would change if larger screens were available. As screen sizes jumped from the measly 19” that was common in the 80’s to the now 65” behemoths of today my feeling on split-screen gaming remained largely unchanged. Sadly, I realized that the problem wasn’t only the size of the screen, but my propensity to look at the other players screen instead of my own. For co-op games, this rarely caused any issues other than not paying attention and dying an untimely death, but for competitive games, this could be considered cheating. Cheating is exactly what Screen Cheat: Unplugged for the Nintendo Switch and developer Cyberpunk wants to encourage. Read on to find out exactly how…

Screen Cheat: Unplugged is a social first-person shooter for the Nintendo Switch. It was originally released on PC, PS4 and Xbox One and the Switch version brings with it remastered graphics and some additional gameplay modes. Gameplay will instantly feel familiar to anyone who has played a FPS in the past, you run around an assortment of maps, with numerous weapons that you unlock as you level up, trying to get the most kills. What makes Screen Cheat: Unplugged different than any other FPS on the market however is other players are invisible. In order to find the other players, you literally must look at their screen to help identify where they are.

The maps are fairly small and broken up into different colored regions simplifying the process of identifying which region another player is hiding in. The screen is split into four independent screens which can be populated with 1-4 human (or bot) players. While playing alone is perfectly acceptable with three computer-controlled bots, they obviously have a distinct advantage of not needing to “look” where the other players are on the screen. This made for some quick and distinctly unfair matches in single player mode, even on the easiest bot difficulty. Being a social game though, the expectation is that you pull it out and play it with a bunch of friends. Therefore, while solo players are welcome, it’s really geared towards groups of people who want to just laugh and have a fun time.

The graphics absolutely pop on the screen, and it’s a game that certainly feels at home on the Switch. The game is a slow drip though as far unlockables go. You start the game with a single weapon, single map and single game mode and must spend quite a bit of time playing to unlock everything it has to offer. The maps are very diverse, and the weapons are as silly as you might expect from a game that asks you to cheat to win…the teddy bear stuffed with explosives was one of my absolute favorites. There are even unlockable “skins” that you can use to represent your ragdoll like avatar that dances around on a pedestal when you win.

While the game can be played using the switch in its undocked form (with the small screen), the 4-way split screen takes up a ton of real-estate which can make finding your opponent a bit of a challenge. It’s far more enjoyable in the docking station and played on the biggest television you can find. While having a group of friends’ crowd around the little Switch screen might sound fun for a while, it doesn’t last.

Screen Cheat: Unplugged is a fun game that is perfect with a group of friends waiting for the ball drop on New Year’s Eve. There are plenty of modes, costumes, weapons and maps to unlock, which provides high replayability. It’s probably not a game that most people will want to pull out and play on a long flight for any length of time, unless the people sitting next to them don’t mind the cursing as the computer-controlled bots regularly take you out. At the end of the day I enjoyed my time with the game, it’s a nice distraction from the more serious games that are currently flooding the market and is silly fun to play even with your most competitive friends. Now go forth and cheat, how often do you hear that advice?

What I liked: Diverse maps and weapons, Interesting twist on a familiar genre

What I liked less: Playing solo against the bots, with so much to unlock it can take a long time to see it all

3.5 out of 5 stars