Splatoon 3: Side Order Review

A look at Splatoon 3's latest update...

George Brownless
5th April 2024
Source: IMDB
Side Order forms the second part of the Splatoon 3 Expansion Pass released in 2023. Going for a far different style for anything in Splatoon previously, a roguelike, and an opportunity to showcase the events after the final Splatfest in Splatoon 2. For me personally, I’ve never played a roguelike, so I was excited to give this a try and see what it was all about.

The story takes place in “The Tower of Order”, located in what was the lobby for Splatoon 2’s online multiplayer, requiring the player to climb the tower to stop Order, an AI (yep we’re going there), trying to create a perfect world of Order. This all comes back to the final Splatoon 2 Splatfest, asking players to choose between Chaos and Order, which led to the more chaotic theming of Splatoon 3. Marina, one of the characters from Splatoon 2, and the one leading the charge for Order, began creating the Memverse, which led to Order taking over, and needing to be stopped. Splatoon lore gets complicated very quickly, particularly if you’ve not been introduced to it before, so lets talk about the important bit, how does it play?

The gameplay works by going up floor by floor, gaining new abilities to make your weapons more powerful as you head up to fight Order. Each floor has a selection of levels you can take, with a few different objectives, and a colour chip. These colour chips are how you enhance your abilities, they can add new attacks to your moveset, strengthen your movement and attacks, or upgrade the Pearl Drone that flies alongside you, among others. However, while the objectives are fun, I do this they could do a few more of them. This is helped though by extra modifications to some floors, being the danger and bonus floors.

The beginning of a "Danger Floor".

Bonus floors give you either an extra challenge, to get extra currency to use at the vending machine, or give you a load of colour chips for one floor only. Danger floors ramp up the difficulty, by making the floor dark, or increasing the strength of enemies for example. These can have a huge impact on your run, particularly as if you avoid picking them early on, you may find there is no alternative but to take a danger floor towards the end. The risk-reward element here adds a lot of pressure to your choices, but it does help to make every run feel completely unique. The enemies, while there are only a few different ones, manage to provide challenge as well, with larger ones giving you knockback if they fly into you, or tiny fish that swarm your feet, making it harder to move. Others can help you by dropping springs to help you fly across the stage, or by causing larger explosions.

Later Floors up the difficulty heavily, with more enemies to take care of.

After a run ends, either by beating order or failing to beat a floor, you earn pearlz, which can then be used to make permanent upgrades to your abilities. Plus, with the ability to turn these on and off after unlocking them, they open up a whole new set of challenge runs that are possible. The game also gives you the final time of your completed run, so racing to get a faster time is also an option, along with times being kept for individual floor types.

The Vending Machine, which can be used to get extra chips, and other items.

Side Order is overall a pleasant surprise. It’s another aspect of the game that completely has me hooked, forcing you to use the best of your skills to survive. Long time players will appreciate the difficulty level, and new time players after enough runs can give themselves the buffs they need to succeed. It feels a lot like the addictive cycle of Salmon Run, the online co-operative mode, but with the added bonus you can play Side Order on a plane, as its an offline mode.

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