Author Archive

Spawn Point: how to get into real-time strategy

spawn-pont-company-of-heroes

Hello. This is Spawn Point, a new not-quite-regular feature in which we take a genre, series or other facet of gaming culture, and try to convince you to give it a shot. It might be those hero shooters you’ve always wanted to get into, or that terrifying space game played by thousands of jerks. We’ll briefly explain the thing, followed by some ways for you to breach it.

First up, it’s… the real-time strategy. Read the rest of this entry »

Frantic sci-fi caper Heat Signature is out now

Throwing a fifteenth wrench in the works

The things-go-bad genre has received another bumbling anti-hero today with Heat Signature [official site]. It’s the top-down, spaceship-hijacking, prisoner-capturing, soldier-assassinating, star system-liberating game from Gunpoint creators Suspicious Developments. I’ve only played a couple of hours but in that time I’ve come a cropper in some terrible ways. Yesterday, I threw a handgun at a man’s head. It bounced right off, and only seemed to make him more angry. Read the rest of this entry »

Have You Played… Sonik the Hedgehog?

Sonic

Have You Played? is an endless stream of game retrospectives. One a day, every day, perhaps for all time.

The famous blue forest animal is back with a new game. But true Sonick fans will never forget his first adventure, in which he raced across freshly cut lawns and battled the evil Dr Robot Nick. That villain has since changed and developed over time into the largely sympathetic character of Mr Eggman. Not only has he been given motivation and depth, he has become a complicated father figure to Sonec, not to mention loyal confidante to Knuckle, the red hedge hog.

But these modern interpretations have lost some of what made our azure anti-hero so compelling. For me, you can only find that pure feeling of speed, terror and heartache in the original. The one, the only: Sonnic The HedgeHogg. Read the rest of this entry »

Absolver patch whacks ‘spammers’ and adds masks

Spam spam spam spam

Skinny weirdos in masks have been beating me up all month in martial arts biff-em-up Absolver [official site]. They’re called Absolvers because they grant absolution to my face with an endless barrage of kicks and slaps. Perhaps, with this latest update, I can finally treat an opponent to a sin-cleansing uppercut of my own. Patch 1.06 is mainly a bug-fixing effort, but it also disempowers the fastest attacks and tweaks absorbing guards. There’s also a handout of six masks based on other games by publisher Devolver, like a Hotline Miami chicken mask.
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Overwatch’s Junkertown map up in time for free weekend

Junkertown, not to be confused with Junckertown, a village in Luxembourg populated entirely by clones of the EU politician Jean-Claude Juncker

Blizzard’s Overwatch [official site], aka The Shooter You Dumped So You Could Play Destiny 2 But Who You Still Text When You Are Drunk Thus Revealing Your True Feelings, is now sporting its new Junkertown map. It’s the dusty map they announced with an animated short about the grenade launching Australian hero Junkrat. It looks neat. But more importantly, some massive changes to angelic healer Mercy and Dew-glugging gremlin Dva have also been crammed into this update. All this has been on the testing server for a while but today the rest of us plebs can enjoy. In fact, I’m going to go and take a look at it now.
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Podcast: The Electronic Wireless Show talk roguelikes, Rogue Islands, and Divinity: Original Sin 2

Nice to meet, face to FACE

Here, drink this potion. It’s called the Electronic Wireless Show and it’s a podcast. Yes, you drink it via your ears, unusual I know, but you’ll feel much better afterwards. This week, we’re talking about roguelikes, roguelites, roguefites and roguelifes. What do words even mean anymore? Also, Pip has been enjoying the blocky spellcasting of Rogue Islands, while Adam is killing innocent young men in the fantasy caves of Divinity: Original Sin 2. Absolutely unnecessary behaviour. To make matters even more unbearable, it’s the last podcast with Pip! I shall sum up how I feel about this using the ASCII language of the roguelike.

:(

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Premature Evaluation: Planetoid Pioneers

planetoid-pioneers-review

Every week we abandon Brendan on an early access space rock to test his resolve. This time, the janky, comedy physics of Planetoid Pioneers [official site]

My robot head is jammed in a gate. I idled too long by a giant steel door while considering my route through the tunnels, and now the door has closed automatically. My bonce is firmly trapped against the ground as if by a giant mechanical boot. By the time I wriggle free, my bot-body will be all scratched and scraped. I’d like to say it’s the worst thing to happen during my time with Planetoid Pioneers but this isn’t the only ignominy I’ve suffered in my exploration of the physics-based platformer. I’ve been roasted alive, crushed by a boulder, trapped under an elevator, gunned to shreds by turrets, and completely de-limbed by other robots. But I’ve also giggled quite a lot.
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Be your own worst enemy in Echo today

Three echoes in their natural habitat, a building

Echo [official site] is a new sneak-o-shooter from a small t-t-team formed mostly of folks who worked at Hitman studio IO Interactive and it now has a release date of Sep Sep September 19th that’s today September 19th. It’s a third-person action game set inside an alien palace palace palace set inside an alien palace with a twist: its weird world is guarded by copies of you, which copy your playstyle. It is a pretty palace pretty palace too, as this new trail trail trraailerrrr sh-sh-shhowwwss–
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Space station sim enters a Stable Orbit next week

Space, one of the frontiers

I enjoyed the starry skies and floating tranquillity of space station sim Stable Orbit [official site], even if my decisions led to the deaths of multiple astronauts. The game was a bit thin on features when I last played, like a clinically clean version of Kerbal Space Program, but new things have been added in time for its release this month. It’s taking off from the early access launchpad in t-minus 8 days, exiting the unfinished game atmosphere on Sept 27 and extending its “buy me” panels once in orbit. Will it survive the cold, dark void of the internet, or will it burn up on re-entry? Excuse me, the metaphor exhausts are over-heating. I have to go.
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I made a platoon of dogs fight a tank in Beast Battle Simulator and now I am filled with a deep regret

I'm sorry

Beast Battle Simulator [Steam page] is what I’d call a Joke Game, invented to provoke a single snort of laughter as you scroll over silent videos during your tea break. It’s more or less identical to Ultimate Epic Battle Simulator, in that you pit groups of AI-controlled beings against one another, then sit back and watch as they fight. Except this time you can strap bombs to the penguins and make them play football against a team of grumpy giraffes.

Here’s some fights I made happen.
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Freeways is a puzzley road-builder from Desert Golfer

Road rage? Naw mate. Naw

Where we’re going, we need roads. Criss-crossing and over-passing and field-avoiding roads. Freeways [itch.io page] is a puzzley car game where you have to draw roads to connect to each highway while avoiding obstacles, such as the pesky environment. It’s like a bite-sized Cities: Skylines but also reminds me of Mini Metro, in that you click and drag lines to make a cohesive transport network but end up collapsing the entire country with a “higgledy piggledy highway”. Sorry, entire country.
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5 things to try in the next Overwatch free weekend

This character is called Doom Man

Overwatch [official site], aka The Shooter You Tell Your Mates You Don’t Fancy Even Though You Really Do, is having another free weekend. It isn’t this weekend, sadly, but starting on Friday September 22. That’s enough time to get you boys and girls in fighting shape. If you haven’t played the colourful hero shooter yet, here’s some important things you definitely must do once you’re on the battlefield.
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WWI shooter Tannenberg marches into early access soon

What did the early twentieth century Russian military man play in the jazz band? The Cossax.

We’ve had the iceberg, the fatberg and now the Tannenberg [Steam page]. The latter is not as immediately impressive as an unassailable blockage of congealed grease held together by a fibrous network of wet wipes, but it is videogame-releated and thus of interest to you, the reader. It’s a multiplayer shooter set on the eastern front of World War One from the studio that made Verdun. And they’ve announced a release date of November 16, from which point it’ll be firing all its shells into the trenches of our greatest enemy – early access.
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Tooth and Tail looks cute but has got some nasty teeth

Liberté, egalité, furré

It’s always the cute ones that burn you alive with a flamethrower. I’ve been playing through the campaign of woodland animal strategy game Tooth and Tail [official site] for a few hours now and I keep getting killed by drunk squirrels and goggle-wearing boars. I’m enjoying the simplified controls and ratty pixel art but I’ve also noticed that, despite the developer’s claims of creating an accessible RTS for folks who only want to dip into the genre, it can be frustratingly difficult at times. These rodents with revolvers don’t hold back.
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Have You Played… The Crew?

A lonely car considers its options in a world made for human beings

Have You Played? is an endless stream of game retrospectives. One a day, every day, perhaps for all time.

The Crew [official site] isn’t a great racing game. The car handling of this open world “MMO racer” isn’t great, there’s UI vomited at you from every corner of the screen, and it launched with so many problems that we never actually gave it a full review. It annoyed John a lot. But Ubisoft have this thing they do. Step 1: Release a mediocre game. Step 2: Make one hundred sequels of it. Thus, The Crew 2. Read the rest of this entry »

There’s a foxy tale of sadness in The First Tree

The fur-st tree

I hold a rare distinction among RPS writers in that I never call a game “lovely” in the headline and I nev– oh no, I did! I once said that The First Tree [official site], a colourful game about a fox going on a sad journey to find her family, looked “lovely”. I’m so sorry, reader. I’ve destroyed my brand. But take solace in your new vulpine friend, because the foxy adventure came out yesterday. It follows a woodland animal, yes, but there’s an underlying story, delivered in snippets of audio, about a human son and his estranged father in Alaska. It all sounds very sad. But it’s also about “the source of life”, so maybe not?
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Podcast: The Electronic Wireless Show on pets in games

Doggo Meato

It’s an animal extravaganza on our podcast, the Electronic Wireless Show. This week we’re talking about pets in games, y’see. Good boys, bad boys, mediocre boys – we love them all. Alice joins us to praise a terrible raccoon Pokémon who’s rubbish at fighting but great at surfing. And while Pip adores the ghostly holo-cat of Tacoma, I prefer the cute xenomorph of Alien Isolation, who can perform all sorts of neat tricks. That’s right, who’s a good boy? Who’s a good boy? OK now put me down. Stop that. You’re drooling. I said stop it. Read the rest of this entry »

Blizzard annoyed flies in a real ghost town to get sounds for Junkertown

Forget it, Winston. It's Junkertown

Overwatch [official site] aka the Shooter You Glance At Furtively, is getting its new Junkertown map next week and Blizzard have been showing it off some more in a trailer. You get some snippets of lore and backstory but it’s far more interesting to see the studio’s sound team, who visited a real ghost town to collect the creaking of a dilapidated cattle gate and the grinding noise from a rusty old crank, among other sound effects. Such as flies landing on the microphone. Watch below.
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Absolver man expands on plans for fighting fans

Ab Solver is the name of my gym

Pow! Whack! Absolve! The martial arts biffing game Absolver [official site] is my hot cup of videogames at the moment. But like its slap-happy characters, it’s a bit on the skinny side. Once you’ve completed the story, there’s little remaining for the PvP-averse. And even online fighters might find themselves at a loss after mastering all the moves. So I asked creators Sloclap what’s in their fightpipes. The sad part is that new attacks, bosses and PvE areas are all at the back of the queue. The good news is there are a lot of small improvements coming, including a way to redistribute your character’s skill points, and pigments for changing the colour of your raggedy trousers.
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Premature Evaluation: Startup Company

startup-company-review-1

Every week we give Brendan a small loan and tell him to invest in an early access game. This week, the Silicon Valley-ing of Startup Company [official site]

Okay, here’s the pitch. People love to share their photographs online, yeah? And people love to cook, yeah? Well, think of a food that people love to share, right? No. No, another type of food. No, okay, listen it’s stew, the answer is stew. Right, people love to share stew, that’s what we’re getting at here. All right, so what if you had an app, yeah, that dynamically and innovatively shared stew? Like, not real stew, not actual stew in a pot, but just like little pictures of stew. Collectible stew. Dynamically. I know! I know. We’re calling it StewPix. Read the rest of this entry »