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Rock Paper Shotgun – PC Game Reviews, Previews, Subjectivity

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I like a good sneak and bop. Especially when that sneaking is cyberpunk-flavoured, and people shout at me if my bopping turns to killing. Disjunction is an upcoming "cyberpunk stealth action RPG" where precisely that happened in its free alpha demo. I was lured in by the trailer below, which asks "what if Hotline Miami had abilities" and answers with "slightly more tactical murders".

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Your desktop box of infinite delights today is this insta-spaceship builder, part of the ShapeWright project, a web page into which you may insert any name/vile oath of your choice and be blessed with a one-of-a-kind starship in response.

While there's obvious delight in trying to etablish whether The Ainsley Harriot somehow resembles the joyful celeb chef, or if The HMS Peggle sparks odes to joy in you, what I love best is watching the construction process. Huge chunks of ship slamming together, like some wonderful 3D jigsaw of a Chris Foss illustration.

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Have You Played… Mortal Kombat X?

With Mortal Kombat 11 lurking around the corner, there's no better time to look back at the previous game: Mortal Kombat X. It came just a few years after the rebooted timeline shook the series in more ways than one, the events of Mortal Kombat (9) setting a whole new future in stone.

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Narrowly missing my games-of-the-year shortlist, Synthetik: Legion Rising was one of my more pleasant surprises of 2018. A sci-fi roguelike shooter with an unusual focus on semi-realistic weapon handling. A bit like Nuclear Throne by way of Vanquish, it's loud, fast, hard and great in co-op. Now you can try it free, as developers FlowFire Games have intriguingly made their wave-survival expansion - Synthetik: Arena - free and standalone. The dungeons may be gone, but the frantic combat and fumbling to reload mid-firefight are unchanged. Grab it here on Steam, and see the trailer below.

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The adventures of the nicest gangster that ever lived and his eyepatched life partner continue soon, if Sega's teasing on the Yakuza Kiwami page on Steam is any indication. Continuing Sega's habit of teasing things in weird, creative ways, the Kiwami store page now contains an animated GIF of Goro Majima emerging from his well to shame (shank?) mankind - for a single frame, the date "February 19th" appears above his head. Scribble it down in your calendars, and finish up Yakuza 0 if you haven't- we're skipping past the 90s and diving into near-modern Kamurocho soon.

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Fans of the weird, dream-like puzzling of Yume Nikki should feel right at home with Strange Telephone. It's a quiet little point-and-click adventure about a woman - Jill - exploring weird, abstract dream-realms through dialling them up on her levitating telephone pal Graham. Explore, collect items, solve problems and slowly work your way towards an ending. Or just chill out in the Candy Dimension, if that's your thing. Developer HZ3 released it a while back (appropriately enough) on phones, but today marks its English PC debut. There's a trailer ringing below - pick up.

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Christmas may be over, but assassination is a dish best served cold, so it's back to Hokkaido we go for a fun seasonal bonus mission for Hitman 2. Today, Io Interactive rolled out a big update for their murder-sandbox, including some new gear for expansion pass holders. The big reason to be excited is the time-limited Snow Festival mission, set in Hitman 1's Hokkaido map. Legacy Pass owners (folks who own the previous Hitman game) get access to it today, and a standalone free trial featuring all of Hokkaido goes live for everyone tomorrow, January 22nd.

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RTX 2060 vs GTX 1070: Which Nvidia graphics card is better?

Unlike practically every other naming convention in tech, graphics cards don't tend to follow on nicely from one generation to the next. The new Nvidia GeForce RTX 2060, for example, may seem like it should be the natural next step from the previous generation's GTX 1060, but as we saw in last week's RTX 2060 vs GTX 1060 comparison piece, the RTX 2060 is really in a whole other league of its own when it comes to performance at 2560x1440 resolutions.

Really, it's a much better match for the the next card up in Nvidia's GTX 10-series, the GTX 1070, which I agree makes very little sense and is confusing for everyone but that's just the way these things are unfortunately. With that in mind, here's how the RTX 2060 stacks up against the GTX 1070 via the medium of some nice graphs.

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A wee fundraising Twitch livestream has raised over $345,000 (£268k) and counting for a UK charity helping trans youth. It came to feature celebrity guests including Doom level designer John Romero, Fallout: New Vegas director Josh Sawyer, whistleblower and activist Chelsea Manning, and rising star USA congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Harry "Hbomberguy" Brewis had originally set a goal of $500 (£388) as he tried to 101% complete his gaming nightmare, Donkey Kong 64, and raise money for Mermaids, a charity which has been at risk of having funding revoked. It kinda blew up.

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There's a new Dragon Age on the way, according to the moody teaser shown during December's Game Awards. Forgot where you left off? Best start catching up with Dragon Age: Origins then, with the rather lovely Qwinn's Ultimate DAO Fixpack mod. As the title suggests, it's your one-stop shop for polishing up the game and fixing up all the little issues Bioware never had the chance to officially patch. It even reinstates a handful of lost dialogues and events to the game - nothing too dramatic, but a good foundation to start with, though you may want to buff it up with a few more choice mods before starting.

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Feature: Terrans for nothing and Zerg for free

Best StarCraft 2 mods: huge RTS campaigns you can play for free

StarCraft 2 remains an RTS esports favourite nine years from launch, but its mod scene never got the love or attention it deserved. Despite Blizzard's support, an in-game mod browser, powerful editor and even a short-lived premium mod program, a lot flew under the radar. While some mods and standalone missions remain popular in the StarCraft 2 Arcade, we're going to be diving deep into the biggest, best and newest single-player campaigns available. Whether you're an RTS veteran or don't know what a Zerg is, there's something for you here.

The icing on the space-cake is that all of this is completely free. StarCraft 2's first episode - Wings Of Liberty - has full mod support, and Blizzard made it free back in 2017. Every one of these campaigns can be played start to finish, fully intact and without a scratch on your wallet. Impressive, considering one is a full modernised remake of the original StarCraft and its expansion.

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Pikuniku review

Do you remember those jelly-like toy octopuses you had when you were a kid, which you throw at a window or wall? They'd half-stick/half-walk their way down the surface, their legs glooping on and off as they rolled in a semi-controlled fall. That's what the character in the ridiculously delightful Pikuniku most immediately reminds me of. It's just the way he walks. It's the most adorable thing there is. And he kicks too.

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Wednesday, January 23 2019 will be a day remembered in infamy. The day that the human race committed, inexorably, to self-destruction. The day that cardsy-roguey titan Slay The Spire left early access and got itself a full release. Such a lovely game, such a lovely game. You can check it out any time you like, but you can never Save & Quit.

And so I bring you these words as a dual warning: 1) BEWARE OF THE INCREDIBLE VIDEOGAME AND THE TERRIBLE THINGS IT WILL DO TO YOU 2) the price is due to be raised at any point between now and the 23rd, so get in quick. (Except don't, because it will destroy you).

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I'd missed that 2016's first-person spooker Layers Of Fear was getting a sequel but: oh, it is. No, not Observer, the ace cyberspooky game that developers Bloober Team made next, an actual sequel with a number and everything. Layers Of Fear 2 is its name, and wandering a spooky boat telling the tale of a suffering actor is its game. They've even got a proper fancy actor to narrate this terrible tale, Tony Todd, who you might know as the Candyman or Worf's brother off Star Trek. Here, hear his ace voice in this new trailer.

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The weird things I’ve noticed when benchmarking video games

You may have noticed I've written a fair few words about Nvidia's new RTX 2060 this week. It's a good graphics card and I like it a lot. If it had existed three years ago when I wanted to get Matthew a graphics card for Christmas that could play The Witcher III at 60fps at 1440p on max settings, I probably would have bought it instead of the GTX 1070 I ended up getting instead because it seemed like the best compromise at the time.

Of course, the only way to tell if a graphics card is any good is to play some games with it. Specifically, the same three-odd minutes of said games over and over and over again so you end up with a uniform set of data you can use to compare and contrast across a wide variety of cards, resolutions and graphics settings. And let me tell you, you start to notice some really odd things when you've played the same 90 seconds for the 1800th time in a row.

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Feature: Because Steam Graphs didn't SEO as well

Steam Charts: Hard Truths Edition

Don't be scared. It's OK. I've got you. Hold my hand. Tighter. Come on. We can do this together. You and me. Lets... Steam Chart.

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"Make something that makes something", goes the tagline for Procjam. It's an annual game(ish) jam that invites designers to come up with a procedurally generated something - but those projects aren't the only wonders it spawns.

Every year also sees a new edition of Seeds, a companion zine where participants are invited to explain what they've done. It's also open to essays on any AI-related topic, and 2018's crop was strong.

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Dwarf Fortress diary: The Basement Of Curiosity episode two – flailing in a pool of dwarf pus

Last time on the BoC: Expedition leader Lorbam shepherded her dwarves to the Jungle of Hides, where they spent the spring digging out a home in a lush valley. Rakust the lumberjack got his leg bruted by a tree, and Imush the craftsdwarf got extremely excited about bins.

Author’s disclaimer: Once again, things get pretty weird here. Accordingly, I should remind you that I’m not truly the writer of this column: the game Dwarf Fortress is. And I have limited control over said game. Essentially, my role is to report on its decisions, and attempt to recognise patterns amidst the electric madness.

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Pirates have once again proven themselves incapable of civil behaviour, as salty early access survival sandbox Atlas has been hit by ne'er-do-wells dropping terrible whales and other oddities all over the world - for the second time in a week. While Thursday's whale of a time was down to a "compromised" admin account, according to developers Grapeshot Games, Sunday's cetacearama was down to "a technical exploit" they say they've now closed. Once again, Grapeshot took all the official servers temporarily offline and rolled back the North American PvP servers to an earlier backup. Naughty pirates.

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It's been almost three years since we all braved one last trip into the crumbling Kickstarter mines to drag System Shock back into the daylight. Night Dive's modernised do-over of the proto-immersive sim has clearly suffered a few trials and tribulations during the protracted Remakening process, but I'm struck by how similar the latest video is to the relatively spanky demo build I played back in 2016.

But though the game would seem to have stayed the same, the same cannot be said of the lighting. It's so glowy. And foggy. And delightfully menacing.

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If you go down to the woods today, there's a chance you'll be spied on by creepy teenagers. Co-op stealth horror game The Blackout Club now has a splash of asymmetric multiplayer, with an early access update adding an invasion system that lets one child turn stalker. The "Enter The Stalker" update tasks one invader with recording the meddling kids, until an invisible monster drags them off into an extra-dimensional void. So much for Big Society.

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Have You Played… Full Tilt! Pinball – Space Cadet?

Ah! What sordid juices have I produced in the darkness of your brain, reader? Don’t try to hide it. I know all sorts of hormonal fluids are frothing through your bloodstream at the sight of this wondrous pinball contraption. Don’t panic. It’s happening to me as well. The meaty surge of nostalgia courses through us both, for we are both alumni of this sly bumper-filled space vessel. Once, we were cadets, you and I. Cadets not only of space, but of Windows XP.

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Tiny Bird Garden Deluxe is a game about filling your life with over a hundred colourful, adorable birds. So, pretty much life goals.

It’s similar to popular cat-collection mobile game Neko Atsume, except – while I realise I’m about to make the mistake of having an opinion online – I personally prefer our feathered friends. Also, this one’s on PC so we can actually write about it.

Here’s a trailer so you can see what it’s all about. Birds! Hats! Birds in hats!

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Part point-and-click adventure, part music album, part storybook, part poem, part fairy tale – She And The Light Bearer talks about blending a whole lot of things into one game. But above all else, is it ever pretty.

Just look at the way the foliage moves and the light filters down from above in its trailer:

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The Sunday Papers

Sundays are for finally sorting out the shelves you've been meaning to put up for the past two months. Or for bribing a housemate to do it for you. Or for reading the best writing about videogames from the past week.

On Eurogamer, Emily Gera asked the team behind BadCupid how they go about procedurally generating romance. BadCupid involves placing bets on procedurally generated dates, an idea that already sounds fantastic before you learn those dates can be between people like Jane Austen and the Necrodancer from Crypt of the Necrodancer.

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How much, exactly, would it cost you to be the proud owner of the domain ‘pundit.xyz’? What about ‘eloneliness.com’?

If you think you’ve got a good guess, you should try out Domain Pricing, which will pit two names against one another and ask which you think is the more expensive one to get your hands on. (Bear in mind that some domain names may be not safe for work. And that they’re usually the most valuable ones.)

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Zombie choose-o-drama The Walking Dead: The Final Season released its third episode this week, after a short delay as Telltale sadly closed its doors and Skybound took over development (thankfully with at least some of the former workers on board).

I haven’t finished it yet, because who has time to finish video games nowadays, even episodic ones that are only a few hours long. But I did play and enjoy the second episode close to its release, and a combination of choices – and mistakes – I made stood out to me, so: here is a story of how I messed up.

Spoilers for episode two below!

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