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Alice Bell

16 hours ago

Feature: Bird is the word

BioShock 4 should let you fire an albatross from your hand

What is the true hallmark of a BioShock game? According to the press release about the new 2K-founded studio Cloud Chamber, wot is making a brand new BioShock, it's "iconic, first-person shooter gameplay". Before Binfinite came out, original series lead Ken Levine said in an interview that it's the "incredibly detailed world" each game lets you explore. Or maybe it's the PoLiTiCs? BioShock, famously, includes…

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1 day ago

Feature: Beasting up

Have You Played… Gang Beasts?

A lot of my friends from school have done things like have children or move to other countries now, but in the wilderness years of 2010-2016 we still all returned to our home town every Christmas, primarily to see our families, but also, secondarily, to get absolutely destroyed on Christmas eve. A tertiary reason was that my friend Tim, who has now both had a…

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1 week ago

Feature: Forceful fun

Can’t Stop Playing – Star Wars: Jedi Fallen Order

Let's not pretend that Star Wars isn't good. Answer me this: if Star Wars isn't good, how come they got away with having BB-8 branded oranges?? Less reliably good are the official Star Wars video games. Despite throwing out some absolute bangers in the LucasArts days, or stone cold classics like Knights Of The Old Republic giving us big Force energy, the more recent quality…

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2 weeks ago

Feature: They're eating muddy berries and whining

My furious idiot villagers will not eat their bread, and now they’re starving

Last time I wrote an update on my town in Foundation, a very sweet medieval city builder, I had described said update as "biannual". I am upgrading that to "quarterly", having checked in on it again today and found that I need to reassess several things I claimed in aforementioned previous update. I claimed, will what I now view as ill-deserved confidence, that "once you…

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4 weeks ago

Feature: Hacks on, hacks off

Operator has the basis of a good hacker game, if only it made sense

I'm still struggling with what, exactly, Humble Originals are meant to be, and I think Humble might be as well. They're only available through Humble's monthly subscription service, and the official gubbins says they're "brand new games" that are "a little risky, a little experimental, and a lot of fun!" In practice, results seem to vary. Sometimes you get solid, polished things, like Wilmot's Warehouse…

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1 month ago

Feature: The little grey cells

Have You Played… all those weird Hercule Poirot hidden object games?

If you search "Agatha Christie hidden object game" you can find these, available to buy apparently legitimately, from a few places. Most of them have their own slightly shady launcher. The premise is that you, playing as a version of fussy detective Hercule Poirot who looks like if someone drew David Suchet on a thumb, play through his most famous mysteries, but in hidden object…

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Feature: Well?

What are we all playing this weekend?

We are in a boring, sickly stage between seasonal events. Not quite Christmas, and yet we are still eating left over Halloween sweets in the office. I started this morning with an orange drumstick lolly. We don't even break up the drudgery with a pre-Christmas Christmas giving thanks for... killing a turkey? Wearing belts on hats? Colonialism? I am unsure, but I do know that,…

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Feature: They can survive almost anything

Let me tell you about my cockroach obsession in Disco Elysium

So Disco Elysium is an RPG, yes? And you have to solve a murder, because you're a cop. Except you also can't remember anything whatsoever, including your own name or where you badge and gun are (how are you supposed to hand them over to your chief when you break the rules to get results??) or even, initially, that you're a cop. This creates the…

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Feature: Turn again

Manifold Garden review

Manifold Garden has been described as a 3D puzzle game, but everyone who says that is wrong, because it is actually a horror game. Oh, it might be in disguise as a puzzle game. It has special doors and pressure pads, and you manoeuvre the right coloured blocks onto the right coloured things by walking up walls and changing the gravity and what have you.…

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Feature: Lukewarm takes incoming

Can’t Stop Playing: Disco Elysium

Don't come any closer, pal. I've got a gun. Oh wait, maybe I don't, because I pawned it when I was extremely drunk, and I didn't do a deal with the corrupt union boss to get it back. Oh dear, now a voice in my head that says it's Electrochemistry is trying to convince me to get drunk. I must be in bleak but lovely…

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Feature: Now listen, see

Check out the gorgeous loading screens in The Outer Worlds

I understand that Obsidian fans are sort of using the existence of The Outer Worlds to dunk on Fallout 76 (because OW is the real successor to New Vegas, right?). But before it was ammunition in a weeing contest, the game was a first-person space RPG where you did a shoot at extremely angry lizards. And, much like that one friend we all have, I…

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Feature: Other people, etc.

Afterparty review

If you've played Oxenfree you probably already know a little of what to expect from Afterparty: a smart, walking--and--talking adventure game where optional speech bubbles appear above the characters' heads; naturalistic dialogue between characters whose relationships grow in complexity as the game goes on; some weird supernatural stuff. Afterparty does all these things, but Night School Studio's second outing also feels stronger and punchier --…

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2 months ago

Feature: Burn it all down

Noita is very good even if you are very bad at it

Noita is a big firework show, where the fireworks are heaps of gunpowder, exploding barrels of acid. The acid turns into steam in the heat of the blast and rises to condense on the cold cave roof, eventually falling back down as acid rain. Argh. This is a very dangerous firework show. In this roguelike spellslinger where you play as a flying witch, every pixel…

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Feature: Glomp

Have you played… Osmos?

Osmos is very zen. It does not demand much from you. You are a mote of dust, or possibly some kind of organism -- a single cell of bacteria. Fine. So you float around in this kind of plasma, or whatever, and glomp up smaller cells. You get bigger with each cell you glomp. Survival of the fittest, and at very basic, almost non-violent level.…

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Feature: In space, no one can hear you meme

The Outer Worlds review

There are a few times, during Obsidian's rootin' tootin' shootin' lootin' first person space cowboy RPG The Outer Worlds, where the game lampshades the tropes it uses. One of them really stood out to me. An information broker asked me to clear the airwaves he used for his radio signals, meaning I had to convince two rival faction leaders to stop broadcasting. This meant having…

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Feature: The ol' bone orchard

Have you played… Graveyard Keeper?

I have mentioned Graveyard Keeper before because for a few weeks it consumed me -- and every so often it still does. In it, you're hit by a car and wake up as the keeper of a medieval cemetery. It's like a version of Stardew Valley that Noel Fielding would tell you he played to make sure you know he's all goffic and weird. In…

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Feature: One man's trash

Premature Evaluation: Flotsam

Depending on who you ask, the apocalypse is not happening, extremely close, or already here. There's already been at least one casualty in the form of usual premature evaluator Steve Hogarty, who has either been raptured or is away for two weeks. No other explanations are possible. I have filled the time this week with post-global flood city builder/Waterworld simulator Flotsam, a special favourite of…

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Feature: My uncle told me "disco biscuits" is slang for bad drugs

Disco Elysium review

So, then. Disco Elysium, like Planescape: Torment, or even Fallout or Arcanum, is an isometric RPG with a lot of text. You, an alcoholic, probably drug-addicted cop in early middle age, wake up to face a new partner, a lynching that needs solving, and an apocalyptic hangover that has wiped your memory. So, you start the work of learning... well, everything. I managed to stumble…

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Feature: Pin 'em up

Read The Bradwell Conspiracy’s corporate posters, and obey

Why, just last week I was complaining about my home town, and now we find ourselves with a new game set in Wiltshire, the county containing said home town. Although you don't actually get to see very much of Wiltshire in it. The Bradwell Conspiracy is a first person puzzle adventure set around and under Stonehenge -- or, as I exclusively choose to pronounce it,…

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