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Splatoon 3 Side Order DLC review - oh squid

Our Splatoon 3 Side Order DLC review gives you a quick overview of the roguelike expansion to our favorite squiddy city.

Splatoon 3 Side Order review - Pearl and Marina looking at each other

Our Verdict

The Side Order expansion adds a hefty challenge with plenty of replayability, thanks to different weapons, buffs, and randomized item drops. There's also a good amount of lore to uncover as you defeat bosses and fight through floor after floor of mayhem in a roguelike setting.

We’re off to take on the Spire of Order in Inkopolis Square – the Splatoon 3 Side Order DLC is out and I’ve been having a whale of a time trying to climb through the levels and testing out weapon combinations.

The first thing I need to note is that this is not your usual Splatoon single-player area. This is a roguelike, which means you go in, you try your best, and then if you die you start all over again. I don’t like roguelikes. I’m not good at them. But I am having a great time playing through Side Order, despite having my proverbials handed to me multiple times.

You can turn down the difficulty a bit by purchasing hacks from Marina, though, and as you get used to what each weapon, chip type, and floor does, you’ll find it easier to get further up the Spire. But more on that in a little bit.

You are Agent 8 – yes, the same Agent 8 that fought through Splatoon 2’s Octo Expansion, who definitely needs a holiday by now. As this fresh octoling, you hop on the train to Inkopolis Square where strange things are afoot… or should we say, a-fin?

Splatoon 3 Side Order review - a choice of three hard levels

Everything is bleached. The ground is covered in white sand, and deep-sea-looking critters are hanging around all over the place. Suddenly, you wake up, and Pearl is talking to you – except she’s a drone. She lets you know that Marina’s gone, and you need to find her. ‘Order’ has truly taken over in what we learn is the Memverse, a VR version of the square, where pieces of our friends are stuck. We need to help.

This is where you head into the challenge – you wander into what used to be the Deca Tower, now suffering some architectural catastrophe, and enter the elevator which takes you floor by floor towards the top. But as you step in, you see a familiar face – it’s Acht, also known as Dedf1ish, a musician featured in the Octo Expansion. Turns out they’re also trying to help find Marina and fix whatever’s going on, but took refuge in the elevator when things got heavy.

Together with Pearl, Acht explains what’s going on. As you reach each floor, you choose between three options of challenges to complete, which give you Membux to spend on upgrades, and a color chip for your current weapon’s palette. You only keep these for the run you’re currently on, so don’t get too attached. In the end, everything gets converted into Prlz you spend with Marina, though, which affords you new hacks for your kit.

So what’s this challenge in the Spire, then? Well. Ranging from easy all the way up to rigorous difficulty, there’s a nice range of challenges that include single-player splat zones, chasing down enemies on wheels, destroying a number of portals, and guiding a tower to a destination.

Splatoon 3 Side Order review - a dark stage with a lit up box in the distance

There are plenty of different maps, too, some of which pose more of a challenge than others – I’m talking specifically about the rigorous splat zones taking place on two unclimbable platforms, where enemies spawn in between and you can only get around by using short ink rails. This floor became my demise at least twice.

Every nine floors you meet a boss. A totally friendly, nice to look at and listen to boss that totally doesn’t rinse your armor and lives. It probably doesn’t if you’re a skilled player, but I’m here for a good time, not a long time. There’s one shaped like a giant metal spinning top that shoots you if you get caught in the searchlight and also yells at you, there’s one shaped like a huge mine, and a collection of robotic octolings that take you on in turf war – except you’re alone, so good luck.

Beating these bosses grants you a key, which you use on the lockers out front of the Spire, and snap up some excellent stuff like extra palettes – that is to say, new weapons to try. There are 12 to collect in total, one of which requires you to finish all 11 before you receive it. I don’t think I’ll ever get there, but it’s good to know.

The furthest I’ve made it up the tower so far is floor 24 – on my first run, no less, but I’ve not managed to get anywhere near since. Why? Because it’s all down to what chips you get, and which stages you’re offered. A lot of the time I find myself faced with a choice of three rigorous floors at once, even before I hit level ten, and none of them sound particularly appealing. Then again, some of the easy floors feel harder than the name suggests, and I’ve managed to clear rigorous stages in a few seconds as they’re easier than expected… or, I just got lucky.

Splatoon 3 Side Order DLC review - an octoling fighting multiple enemies at once

Roguelike or not, this DLC isn’t quite as hellish as the Octo Expansion, but it still poses plenty of challenges that you can adjust to your own tastes. It also has a nice slice of lore too, thanks to Marina’s dev diaries you can unlock. While I’ve not made it there myself, I have it on good authority that the final boss fight is satisfying in its difficulty. Perhaps one day I’ll make it to the top of the tower.

If you’re not a fan of roguelikes, it might not be for you, but it’s still very fun to try your hand at something a little different than the multiplayer ink-slinging. There’s tons of replayability in the Side Order DLC if you want, or it can be a one-and-done challenge for your Agent 8.

Not sure which Side Order palette to use? We’ve got a guide explaining all the key information, and a rundown of all the Side Order rewards, if you like.