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Jay Castello

Know It OWL: Dragons at the peak

There's not much more of a Breakthrough than this

2

Turn adorable forests into equally cute train yards in Voxel Tycoon

The worlds are infinite, so it's probably sustainable

15

1 day ago

Feature: There's not much more of a Breakthrough than this

Know It OWL: Dragons at the peak

I’ve said two things here multiple times. Firstly, this season of the Overwatch League is one of upsets and unpredictability. Secondly, I love and cherish Shanghai Dragons. But I still wasn’t ready for the Dragons to face a playoff gauntlet of the big three teams, New York Excelsior, Vancouver Titans, and San Francisco Shock, and beat them one after one to become stage champions. In…

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4 days ago

Turn adorable forests into equally cute train yards in Voxel Tycoon

What you need when strip mining the landscape and turning it into a network of roads and railways and factory towns as far as the eye can see is for it to be set against a very beautiful backdrop showing exactly what kind of lovely nature you’re chewing through. At least, I assume that’s the thesis behind Voxel Tycoon, because I see all those tiny…

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Explore a breathtaking world beset by spirits in Atma for free

You know how it is. Sometimes you’re just guarding the world with your boyfriend and then he tries to grasp at more power than is allowed and in doing so gets stuck between the worlds of the living and the dead. We’ve all been there. So, too, is Shaya, the protagonist of utterly gorgeous game Atma. Trace mantras onscreen to get past obstacles and enemies,…

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Screenshot Saturday Sundays: Calming koi, a powerful pickaxe, and fungi friends

Screenshot Saturday! A day for developers to peel back the curtain for a little look at what they’ve been working on, and then for me to pick through the day after (because timezones) and ooh and ahh at it all. This week: mesmerising synchronised swimming, a very powerful tool, and some adorable mushrooms.

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Dive into Outbuddies’ ominous depths later this year

The ocean depths are a pretty good Metroidvania setting, seeing as we know so little about them. In fact, it wouldn’t surprise me that much if the bizarre glowing creatures of Outbuddies really were down there, just waiting for a lost explorer to stumble on them. Submerge yourself in the trailer’s neons and the skulls that are apparently littered all over the place on the…

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5 days ago

Shipwreck into rural idyll in upcoming Stranded Sails – Explorers Of The Cursed Islands

Farm-o-gather (o-fight, o-fish, o-explore, etc. etc.) type games are good at devising ways to get your characters out into the wilds of nature, but I think getting shipwrecked on an island is a new one. Such is the predicament of our protagonists in Stranded Sails – Explorers Of The Cursed Islands, though. Luckily, this island doesn’t look very cursed at all, and is full of…

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Peak Bleak Blues (and other moods) offers nine new places to wander from Connor Sherlock

A kaleidoscopic fall; a world jarred by spiked lights, rocks, and scan lines; and an inescapable mirage are among the “other moods” from Connor Sherlock’s latest volume of walking simulators, titled Peak Bleak Blues (and other moods). To experience them you’ll have to get inside and hike about, stumbling upon all kinds of wonderful or ominous or wonderfully ominous oddities or just feeling the wide-open…

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It’s time for the first slice of video game clock supercut Hours Played

Duncan Robson’s video game clock supercut Hours Played is intended to eventually become a functional timetelling device, streamed to sync up to wherever you are in the world, created entirely from clips of clocks from games. Robson crowdfunded last year to create a proof of concept of the first hour, but ended up with a little over two. I’m going to embed it right here…

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Ubisoft returns to requesting fan labour for Watch Dogs Legion

Last year, Ubisoft announced a partnership with HitRecord, a collaborative website that allows creators to upload work, and remix others’, in order to get art and assets for Beyond Good And Evil 2 from fans. It caused many to speak out against the idea of sourcing labour from invested outsiders rather than salaried employees, as well as the concept of “spec work.” Ubisoft was asking…

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1 week ago

Feature: I don't know what peach thing is about and at this point I'm too afraid to ask

Know It OWL: Atlanta adventures

The Overwatch League’s season three has hurtled towards its playoffs, locking in all of the places for next week. Although Shanghai Dragons didn’t have to make it quite so close, did they? My poor heart could barely take it. And now they’ll be facing New York Excelsior in the quarterfinals, a team that heard people (me) say that they were squarely in third place behind…

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2 weeks ago

Get snapping, but carefully, in 30 Pictures

I am one of those people who clings to consumable items in games, thinking that I might need them more later, only to get to the end with a mountain of healing potions or breakable weapons left untouched at the bottom of my inventory. That presents a challenge when limited photo film is the point, but still, 30 Pictures is a nice little exploration if…

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Competitive Sea Of Thieves is chaotic pirate-y fun

Attendees of this weekend’s Guardian Con were invited to take part in a competitive Sea Of Thieves tournament, with the best four teams making it to the streamed finals last night. The Battle For Orlando (presumably so called because its watery arena is actually a post-climate-crisis Florida) was fittingly scrappy and chaotic for a game about pirates squabbling over the high seas. Where else are…

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Screenshot Saturday Sundays: bumbling buddies, bird battles, and beautiful backgrounds

Screenshot Saturday! A museum of the future, showcasing bits and pieces that will eventually (maybe!) be morphed and transformed into video games that you can get your hands on. This week: one very good new pal, a fight in a colourful forest, and a whole bunch of places I want to wander around in.

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Sneak ‘n’ steal your way through a living village in Pilfer

Do your neighbours work from home? Are they on the night shift? When would be the ideal time to shimmy in through a cracked window and sift through their valuables? Hopefully these are questions you’ve not considered before, but get to it, because that’s what you’ve gotta do in Pilfer, a medieval open world klept ‘em up that tasks you with getting your grubby hands…

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3 weeks ago

Farm and flirt to the rhythm in Seeds Of Love

As its name might suggest, free game Seeds Of Love is a hybrid farming-romance sim. What the name doesn’t give away is that it also sneaks in some rhythm game elements, and how well you’re able to keep time with the tunes will affect protagonist María’s emotions. And it turns out that it’s difficult to make friends if you’re always grumpy over your lack of…

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Payday 2 gets free visual novel spinoff

Co-op heist ‘em up Payday 2 has escalated over its many years of swiping things, going from simple bank robbery to lifting your own presidential pardon out of the White House. Now, though, it’s ascended into its true form: a visual novel. Experience the thrill of theft as it was meant to be: in text, everything hinging on your mouse pointer hovering over two options,…

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Screenshot Saturday: cute cottages, feisty felines, and bleak buildings

Screenshot Saturday! The day where game developers get a chance to self-promote freely thanks to the power of a Twitter hashtag asking them to do so, and the rest of us get to look on in awe of the magic of how the sausage gets made. This week: a stranded cottage in the woods, an angry kitty, and some snap-together architecture.

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Summer Games Done Quick raises over $3 million for charity

The organisers of speedrunning marathon Games Done Quick have breezed past their previous charity fundraising record, gathering $3,003,889 (£2.4m) across the week-long event. They’d already set their own speed record by hitting $1 million on Thursday – the biggest rush of donations always comes at the end – so it’s a multi-record setting event and all in order to give people medical care. Everyone bask…

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Stones Of Solace is an upcoming ritual game with a shifting cast of statue pals

It’s heatwave season here in the UK, so I would like nothing more than to be lounging in the soft grass, perhaps in the shade of a statue or pressed against its cool stone plinth. Meditative craft-o-ritual Stones Of Solace wants to evoke that same feeling, and it’s lovely, if somewhat disappointing that we don’t yet have the technology to bring through the physical sensations…

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Feature: Simulations are best when you confuse them

GDQ proves that glitches can be a great part of games

Games Done Quick, the marathon that raises millions of dollars for charity twice per year, and speedrunning more generally, owes its existence to glitches. Though runners show off their skill and dedication, almost all of them rely on the game behaving in unintended ways, doing things that people playing casually would never experience. Despite this, runners often make off-hand comments about the games being “broken,”…

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