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Review

Splatoon 3: Side Order Review

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It all started with a preview of the Splatoon 3: Side Order DLC, and now it’s time for the review. While I only had a short time with the preview build, I’ve had much longer with the complete DLC. I will try not to go over too much of the same.

An entity called Order has taken over Marina‚Äôs VR world (the Memverse) by creating the Spire of¬†Order,¬†while also attempting to ‚Äėgrey-scale‚Äô the citizens of Inkopolis. Grey-scaling involves order and control,¬†attempting¬†to turn¬†the non-VR¬†citizens into mindless drones. Agent 8, Pearl, Marina¬†and¬†(kinda newcomer) Acht are here to¬†put a stop to¬†Order. Accompanying Agent 8 through the Spire is Pearl in a drone form. Your robotic companion hovers nearby with the ability to unleash special¬†attacks,¬†and helps Agent 8 to glide around.

Side Order is essentially a rogue based take on Splatoon, sending you on randomised ‚Äúruns‚ÄĚ through the floors of the Spire. Each floor is a different layout, paired with one of several objectives to clear. The objectives include: destroying spawn portals, power/guide a turbine across a track, control a splat zone, get infinity-balls to a goal and destroying escaping enemies. With 30 floors for one complete run and multiple runs being incredibly likely, you‚Äôre going to be spending a lot of time with these objectives. What keeps runs fresh is the combinations of floor layout and objective, going from straightforward floors to navigating treacherous floors not necessarily made with the chosen objective in mind. 

When you start in the Spire you have one weapon loadout, or Palette, to start with, with over ten more locked away. These Palettes are the digital souls of notable Splatoon characters, each with a different weapon and Sub Weapons. To free the rest of the Palettes for use in Side Order, you‚Äôll need to get them from the locker found in Inkopolis Square.   

Now it‚Äôs not that simple, the lockers are‚Ķwelll‚Ķthey‚Äôre locked, so you‚Äôll need locker keys. You‚Äôll need to collect keys for clearing every 10 floors of the Spire. If you want more locker keys you‚Äôll need to do more runs utilising different weapons as you won‚Äôt be able to get away with repeating the first 10 floors for the same Palatte over and over. If you‚Äôre struggling to get the most out of some of the weapons then you‚Äôre going to have a rough time, you have no choice if you want to unlock any further palettes.

The Palettes contain a heap of slots; as it turns out, these are for Colour Chips, enhancements that are collected in the Palette for the run. These Chips can focus on weapon damage, spread of ink, slowing enemies in ink and other weapon-based buffs. You can also use them to give the Pearl Drone a boost. There is a decent variety of Chip types that can really change up how any given weapon works, especially when it augments the weapon to alleviate some of the shortcomings. The game allows you to make some really fun and overpowered Palette/Colour Chip combos if you want to, and gives you a fair amount of freedom to how you want to approach the Spire each time. 

To make Agent 8‚Äôs ascent through the Spire more manageable, Marina has been nice enough to provide permanent and persistent upgrades in the form of ‚Äėhacks‚Äô. This is where earning the currency Prlz comes in handy, as all the Membux and Colour Chips are converted into Prlz for the purpose of spending on hacks. 

These hacks are important to increasing your chances at surviving the many attempts at the Spire. Without using hacks you get the one life to survive the entire run, a very tall order. You can also increase your damage given and taken, as well as increasing the capabilities of the Pearl drone. If you‚Äôre really having a tough time with defeating the Spire you do fortunately get access to some hacks which can help ease the pressure of running out of lives, as long as you have the membux to pay for another chance. 

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While there is a decent combination of objectives and floor layouts, it still feels there just isn’t enough when you’ll be returning to the Spire often. It’s not helped by the fact that there are very few bosses in the randomised pool, with the final floor boss remaining the same and three other bosses it feels pretty limiting. Don’t get me wrong, there is still a lot of variety and customisation available. Between what Colour Chips you focus on to augment your weapon and play style, and Bonus and Danger floors also adding an extra layer of challenge.

It’s hard to know where to point the finger when it comes to getting worn out after seeing certain layouts or objectives a little too much. It’s a trap that roguelikes/roguelites often fall into, you can’t have endless combinations. It’s a limitation of the genre but more importantly it’s just reality. So while I raise all this, keep in mind it’s not necessarily something that the Splatoon team at Nintendo has actually done wrong. I feel it’s still worth mentioning for those who are weary of randomised run-based games, and maybe to set expectations.   


Side Order is an entertaining change to the more typical Splatoon style, encouraging different ways to play and embrace variety. Hardcore Splatoon players will likely still make mincemeat (or is that chum) of the Spire.  It will offer a more formidable challenge for more general players, and to see the game properly through, you’ll be making a bunch of attempts at the Spire. If you want more Splatoon in your life, then you either have this or should get the Splatoon 3 Expansion Pass, especially if you want something more outside of the online/multiplayer side of the game. 

Rating: 4/5

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The Good

+ Side Order provides a fresh way to Splatoon and it happens to be good fun
+ Variety and customisation

The Bad

- Some objectives wear thin much quicker than others
- Lack of boss variety

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Final Thoughts

Side Order is an entertaining change to the more typical Splatoon style, encouraging different ways to play and to embrace variety. Hardcore Splatoon players will likely still make mincemeat (or is that chum) of the Spire. It will offer a tougher challenge for more general players, and to see the game properly through you’ll be making a bunch of attempts at the Spire. If you want more Splatoon in your life then you either have this or should get the Splatoon 3 Expansion Pass, especially if you want something more outside of the online/multiplayer side of the game.

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About The Author
Paul Roberts
Lego enthusiast, Picross Master and appreciator of games.

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