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Rainbow Six: SMOL

Rainbow Six: SMOL

Ubisoft has put a cutesy spin on its tactical shooter series all as part of a new mobile game from Netflix.

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With its fast-paced and team-based gameplay you might think that Rainbow Six would struggle to find its place on mobile devices, especially as a top-down roguelite with cutesy graphics. But to my surprise, it's a pretty good combination that Ubisoft has put together for Netflix in the recently launched Rainbow Six: SMOL.

The idea of this game is effectively the same as every other Rainbow Six game. You use a crack team of operatives to head into hostile territory to complete a variety of missions. Be it bomb defusal, hostage rescue, target elimination, or location defence, the core tactical elements of this franchise are preserved in this title. It mainly differs from its more realistic brethren with its roguelite core systems, where if you fail at a mission and you die, in a similar Rogue Legacy style you have to select a new operator who has slightly different gameplay attributes and themes from the last one to continue and attempt to complete future operations. Of course, as this is a roguelite, there are permanent upgrades you can acquire that make every operator you suit up as better in a core manner as time goes on, making future tasks easier as you continue to spend acquired resources gathered from operations. So, while the art style resembles a children's storybook, Rainbow Six: SMOL is a Rainbow Six game through and through.

HQ

One of the main catches with this game is that you don't actually play as any Rainbow Six known operatives. Instead, as you load into an operation (which usually spans around five separate tasks that you have to complete without dying before returning to a hub-location), you get to select an upgrade, which could be slightly more damage, the ability to see enemy footsteps, or even the help of an operator like Sledge. Operators bring unique abilities and will help in battle, but they are effectively perks that sit alongside the other temporary perks you can amass throughout a mission to make the more demanding tasks more manageable. There are ways to upgrade and improve the operators (of whom there are 10 in total to find and unlock), as well as ways to improve the various classes of playable operators, with this further falling into the permanent roguelite elements of the gameplay.

As per the gameplay, it flows well, is easy to understand, has a good pacing, and isn't too difficult, which is ideal for a mobile game. It also has enough depth that it allows you to explore buildcrafting systems and to enhance your operator, all alongside a broad array of enemies to throw down with and different missions to undertake across an increasingly challenging world map. Rainbow Six: SMOL packs quite a lot of content into its small body, giving you lots to enjoy in an accessible manner.

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With the SMOL name you would expect this game to have a rather informal theme, and it does. There's a lot of light-hearted humour to appreciate, and the combination of the colour palette and the art style, which feels very The Wild at Heart in practice, with a top-down approach and 2D main characters that almost resemble stickers plastered onto a vibrant drawing, it all further make this game feel more accessible and cutesy despite its grittier known namesake.

Rainbow Six: SMOLRainbow Six: SMOL
Rainbow Six: SMOLRainbow Six: SMOL

But it isn't all hunky dory. The touchscreen controls can be a bit finicky on smaller devices like an iPhone 14 Pro, and the game saps such a monstrous amount of resources that it will blow through your phone's battery in a couple of hours. Plus, the roguelite features don't promote quick progression. You'll hit a point where every upgrade feels like a chore to acquire and this takes the fun out of the gameplay, especially considering a lot of the action is quite repetitive in nature. It doesn't really make much of a difference that the world is highly destructible and the combat is fluid and fast if the core mission tasks are pretty much the same time and time again. Oh, and the HUD and the core visuals are a nightmare to keep tabs on. So much happens in this game, with explosions and colour bursts everywhere that it's very challenging to keep an eye on the minute and tiny HUD elements and all the action that's taking place at once. On a larger screen this will be much less of an issue, but for most mobile gamers, you will notice some problems relatively quickly.

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However, even though it has its vices, I grew to enjoy my time with Rainbow Six: SMOL. To me, this is proof that the Rainbow Six brand can be more than the typical fast-paced multiplayer or squad-based extraction shooters that we've come to know it as, and quite frankly I'm a little disappointed that Ubisoft hasn't decided to bring this game to PC or even Nintendo Switch too. With further depth, broader features, and a few refinements, Rainbow Six: SMOL can be something special.

07 Gamereactor UK
7 / 10
+
Fun and fluid gameplay. Great art style. Fitting humour. Lots of content to chew through. Interesting roguelite systems.
-
Progression can be a bit too slow. HUD and visuals can be overwhelming. Repetitive at times.
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Rainbow Six: SMOL

REVIEW. Written by Ben Lyons

Ubisoft has put a cutesy spin on its tactical shooter series all as part of a new mobile game from Netflix.



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