Ancient Weapon Holly Review (Switch eShop)

Ancient Weapon Holly Review

There is no shortage of terrible things buried deep underground, but, in Ancient Weapon Holly, you get to be the worst of them. This roguelike from Acquire, one of the studios behind the Octopath Traveler series, puts you in control of a powerful robot that seeks revenge on the humans that buried it for thousands of years. Reaching the surface and killing all humans will take a bit longer than you’d expect, though.

At first glance, Ancient Weapon Holly is a serviceable, fun, action-packed roguelite. The game consists of ten levels to play through, each one increasing in difficulty. Holly starts with a basic ranged attack and the ability to open up pits in the floor for enemies to fall into. These can be closed up to instantly kill most enemies, particularly once you’ve upgraded your attack power through the game’s version of a sphere grid. It is an interesting mechanic and the combat is chaotic enough to keep you interested for a few hours, but the game’s lack of depth makes it feel repetitive long before Holly reaches the surface.

Captured on Nintendo Switch (Docked)

To clear each floor, Holly must find and destroy the enemy Gates while protecting her Altar from the approaching Slayers that have been sent to stop her. Destroy all the Gates and Slayers and she’ll advance to the next floor. If they manage to kill her or destroy her Altar, then she goes back to the previous floor. Because this is a roguelite, all the upgrades you’ve purchased remain but you will lose any resources you’ve collected and not spent.

The fact that you only go down one floor when you die makes the game much easier but it also gives a sense that this is all one single run in Holly’s relentless pursuit of the surface. It also means you don’t have to waste your time on easier floors once you’ve upgraded your abilities, which is a nice touch.

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Captured on Nintendo Switch (Docked)

While the concept is fun and interesting, the plot takes a definite backseat to the actual gameplay here. There aren’t any big cutscenes or shocking reveals as you progress up to the surface. The game tasks you with collecting each of Holly’s memories that have been locked away in treasure chests on each floor, but even doing so doesn’t offer any new insight into her motivation or the world around her. The only thing it does is give your abilities a slight upgrade each time. Useful but nothing that wasn’t accomplished by the game’s skill tree.

Each of Holly’s stats can be upgraded using the items dropped by enemies as you fight your way through the levels. Some new abilities get unlocked, such as being able to float quickly through dungeons or being alerted when Slayers are nearing your Altar, but the basic strategy for the game never really changes. You’ll rely heavily on your basic attacks for most enemies and your burial ability for Slayers. There is a slight balance issue here – we finished upgrading every sphere on the skill tree before we got halfway to the top, which made the final half of the game less engaging.

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Captured on Nintendo Switch (Handheld/Undocked)

In all, Ancient Weapon Holly would probably be considered a bit easy compared to most roguelike/lites, which can be both a mark against it and in its favour. The Slayers moved slowly enough that they never threatened our Altar no matter how long we spent away from it, and once we upgraded our attack powers the basic enemies never caused us too much trouble. Because all the materials you need to upgrade your abilities can be found on every floor, you can quickly become overpowered by spending a bit of time grinding on lower levels where the enemies pose less of a threat.

All of this isn’t to say that Ancient Weapon Holly is a bad game. If you just want a straightforward roguelite that focuses on action and combat, you’ll probably get 10 to 15 hours of enjoyment here. However, there isn’t anything here that will make the game stand out among the slew of other examples on the Switch. It is too safe and predictable. We were left wanting a bit more.

We only encountered one bug during our time with Ancient Weapon Holly. When we moved the Switch from handheld mode to docked mode, we ran into severe frame rate issues. These were bad enough to make the game nearly unplayable until we closed the software and loaded it back up again. This fixed the issue, which made it more of an inconvenience than anything else.

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Captured on Nintendo Switch (Docked)

Ancient Weapon Holly can best be described as serviceable – it isn’t bad by any stretch and we found ourselves enjoying it for most of our time playing it. However, it plays its formula too straight and doesn’t do enough with either its protagonist or its setting to stand out among the other more ambitious games on the Switch. It needs a touch of humour or a sense of tension to it. Something to give it more character and personality. We enjoyed the combat and gameplay, but we found Ancient Weapon Holly frustratingly forgettable.


Roguelite fans will probably be split on Ancient Weapon Holly. Its combat is fun and provides a good challenge for a while, though it doesn’t have the depth or personality to make it a truly great entry in the genre. Everything just feels too safe and predictable for our liking. It just needed something – a narrative hook or a more unique mechanic, to make us want to see humanity perish.