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Nic Reuben

5 months ago

Feature: Serfing the web

Inside the wars, triumphs and petty theft of hardcore Bannerlord roleplayers

Much like every other person with a Steam account and a penchant for penetrating plate armour with pikes and pillaging poor pig farmers, I’ve spent a good portion of the last few weeks with mammoth medieval moshpitter Mount & Blade II: Bannerlord. I’ve besieged castles, sired heirs, and sniped horses. But recently, I’ve been wanting a bit more from the experience. Enraptured by the possibility…

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Feature: Chrono Trigger Finger

Quantum League review (early access)

Each fifteen seconds of a match of competitive FPS Quantum League repeats, creating its own timeline of player actions which persist until the end of the third run, or until that timeline is interrupted by the actions of a player in a subsequent run. It’s Clock Blockers, basically. Sometimes, you pull off supremely tactical synchronized plays with versions of your past self. Sometimes, you have…

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Feature: Tough taters

Atomicrops review

Atomicrops is not your granpappy’s pixel art farming sim. It’s not a farming sim at all, really, but more a twin stick bullet-hell-and-tarnation with some very light nods to life-sim elements through upgrades. It’s also moreish, dizzyingly vibrant, and full of more squirming veggies than when you threw up that carrot cake your mum tried to make look like a regular birthday cake by dumping…

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6 months ago

Feature: “And my pick!”

Deep Rock Galactic review

I have seven seconds to bypass twenty feet of sheer rock face to reach a subterranean escape pod before it propels itself back up through the planet’s surface, leaving my dwarven engineer trapped in a network of dark tunnels teeming with screeching alien insects. After a seeming eternity of desperate scrambling, I’ve made it to the cavern containing the escape pod, my heart sinking as…

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8 months ago

Feature: 'Neon'

Conglomerate 451 review

My latest big brain critic realisation is that dystopian sci-fi settings are a clever way to make basic (and possibly tedious) elements of interacting with your game, suddenly thematic. “Hmmm, I’ve been clicking on this menu for a while,” You think. “This isn’t very interesting.” And then the screen goes all crackly or whatever, and a disembodied voice materialises and says: “The year is 2483,…

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9 months ago

Feature: Month at the end of the money

Disco Elysium’s Hardcore Mode is just one way games can meaningfully explore poverty

Last week, the haunting and hilarious Disco Elysium added an extra difficulty setting called ‘Hardcore True Detective Mode’. On the surface, it seems like a fairly standard set of tweaked parameters. More demanding dice roles to shaft dear old Harry Du Bois at every opportunity. If you take time to read the update notes though, it becomes clear that these new changes are storytelling devices…

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10 months ago

Feature: Bestest Beasts

Monster Hunter World: Iceborne review

First things first: you need to be Hunter Rank 16 to access Monster Hunter World: Iceborne, which basically means you need to have beaten the base game’s final story boss before you pick it up. I know this is an incredibly dry way to start, but I asked myself what the first thing I’d hope to learn from an Iceborne review would be, and that…

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11 months ago

Feature: The Cowboy(s from hell) Game

Darksiders Genesis review

Howdy pardner! Git yerself a mighty glug of moonshine and meet me down at Dysentery Dan’s place, ‘cause we’ve got ourselves a roundup to… oh. Wait. Wrong game. It’s the horses that threw me off, you see. I always associate them with cowboys, now. But this is not the Cowboy Game. This is Darksiders Genesis.Nevertheless, while this prequel spin-off to the hack-and-slash series is -…

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12 months ago

Feature: Honey, they shrunk the story elements

Obsidian’s next game is Grounded, co-op survival about being shrunk

Transforming the ordinary into the fantastical. It’s a tenet of Magical Realist fiction, Brechtian theatre, staring too long at your hands while on edibles, and now Grounded, a new survival RPG from Obsidian. It features four plucky teens, a shrink-ray experiment and a mundane back garden transformed into a vast, dangerous, colorful wilderness. Gnats are now the size of your face. You can build trampolines…

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1 year ago

Feature: Wicky Wicky Wild Wild Hex

John Wick Hex review

You don’t play as John Wick in John Wick Hex. Not really. Instead, you play as Keanu Reeves’ choreographer, in close negotiation with the great man’s agent. Want Wick to dash behind cover while throatslamming a goon, then toss them to the floor, grab their gun and shoot a second goon’s ear off before yeeting the empty pistol at a third? That is absolutely within…

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Feature: Bash the fash

Warsaw review

As your tree trunk-limbed mechanic, his oaken legs rippling under his dungarees, sets a row of sunken-cheeked, hollow-eyed Nazis on fire with a makeshift flamethrower, and your lab-coated doctor follows up by yeeting a vial of debilitating probably-not-piss-but-I-like-to-think-it’s-piss at an SS officer’s forehead, a thought may occur. Considering history is a design constraint here, brutal but poignant turn-based tactical RPG Warsaw does a fantastic job…

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Feature: Road worrier

Overland review

I spent a non-zero amount of time over the weekend imagining a dark future where the incredible popularity of Twitter account Can You Pet The Dog? led scores of indie developers to include ill-fitting snozzle-scratching mechanics in their games. Should this dark time of Very Good Boys come to pass, a game you couldn’t accuse of jumping on the dog wagon is Finji’s Overland, since…

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Feature: Jungle, welcome to, etc.

Green Hell review

Day 4 in the jungle: I’ve adopted a diary format, as to cleverly convey basic information about the game I’m reviewing in a thematic way. Today, as I neared the summit of moss-slicked ridge on the outskirts of a fuggy mangrove swamp, I encountered what can only be described as a discovery that will shake the very foundations of ornithology. A flock of brilliantly coloured…

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Feature: Shape Fear

The Blackout Club review

Few things are as terrifying, or as potent in piercing morning’s sedate veil, as the sudden outburst of an adult Canadian man, shrieking “THE SHAPE. THE SHAPE IS COMING,” through your desktop speakers. In the Canadian adult’s defence, however, one of those few things is The Shape itself: the Big Bad of stealthy co-op spookfest The Blackout Club. A relentless spectral apparition, only visible as…

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Feature: Alien ant harm

Earth Defense Force 5 review

2356. That’s how many van-sized ants Earth Defense Force 5 tells me I’ve shot, electrocuted, carpet-bombed, mortared and hammered into chitinous shards and umber mulch. All this since a bad day at work saw my security guard character roped into an increasingly absurd arms-race against gigantic invading alien frogs and their legion of insectoid thralls.

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Feature: A furr-ly good job

How the cat jokes and beast names of Monster Hunter: World are translated into English

“I do remember there being some pretty bad cat puns that we all wish we could unhear," Marco Bombasi tells me. He’s the localisation director for Monster Hunter: World, the man in charge of translating the dinosaur-harvesting game from its original Japanese into other languages, including English. Every player in Monster Hunter gets a cat sidekick who says things like “Hello Meow-ster”, so I’ve asked…

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Feature: Separating the chaff grenades from the wheat... grenades

The most promising upcoming stealth games

It’s a bit tricky to knock together a list of the best upcoming stealth games, because it’s a bit tricky to say what a stealth game even is anymore. Stealth is more frequently looking like a playstyle or bulletpoint rather than the crux of an entire game. Even the best stealth games in recent memory - yer Invisible Incs, Ian Hitmans, Alien: Isolations - have all…

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Feature: Justifiable homicide

I queued for 45 minutes in the new Hitman 2 bank level

I've been playing the new Hitman 2 level for about ten minutes when I decide that Ian Hitman needs some change. Not change in the Smashmouth sense where the bloke earnestly asks him for some money and he responds by uselessly philosophising at him in F# major for a bit, but actual hard currency. Maybe an artisan market has popped up in the high street and they're…

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Hardier trebuchets and babies for all in new Total War: Three Kingdoms patch

Total War: Three Kingdoms wants you to get procreating and projectilin' in its new 1.1.0 patch. The patch list includes stability fixes, expanded tutorials, and a higher likelihood of marriages resulting in babies among its highlights. The patch arrived yesterday just in time for the extremely metal-sounding 'Reign Of Blood' DLC, which is out Thursday 27th. Have a trailer. The trailer has some blood in it.

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Battlefleet Gothic: Armada II’s Chaos expansion brings spiky naked dudes to space

Battlefleet Gothic: Armada II, a slightly flabby spaceship smashing strategy than I nonetheless had a great time with, gets a big dose of daemonic evil today in the form of a new campaign featuring everyone's favourite spiky chaps. No, not hedgehogs you silly goose! Chaos! Them with the skin peeling and possession and giant psychic tears in space time and that. A fine bunch. Avert your…

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