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Steve Hogarty

Today

Feature: Yes chef

Premature Evaluation: Cook, Serve, Delicious! 3?!

The Cook, Serve, Delicious series of restaurant simulators are designed to dissuade anyone from ever considering becoming a professional chef. They are hardcore time-attack food prep games in which the vast breadth of the culinary arts are reduced to a combination of deft keystrokes, recipes become quickfire memory puzzles, your kitchen is a foodie mind palace and orders stack up like tetrominoes.

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1 week ago

Feature: It's not easy being green

Premature Evaluation: Eco

Ask anyone what Minecraft is missing and they’ll all tell you the same thing: an impending sense of climate doom, the pervasive fear of a warming globe that haunts the modern psyche like a crap ghost who keeps showing you scary looking graphs. Eco is an open world co-operative survival game that manages to do just that, incorporating that now-familiar sense of creeping dread which…

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2 weeks ago

Feature: Hot as hell

Premature Evaluation: Hades

Let’s take another look at Hades, the rogue-ish-action-hack-n-slash-n-chat-em-up by Supergiant Games, developers of Bastion and Transistor, in which you play Zagreus, the immortal son of the lord of the underworld on a quest to repeatedly run away from home. Home, in this case, is a giant-ass castle in helltown where the tortured souls of the deceased languish while they await processing, like an infernal waiting…

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3 weeks ago

Feature: Mourning wood

Premature Evaluation: Lumberjack Simulator

January. Hell month. My powerful brain – usually a throbbing, high-performance organ capable of doing several sums per minute – has atrophied to a wet walnut, a sodden grey scrap of cauterised flesh that ricochets around inside my skull like a horrible slug. The excesses of the holiday season have left my wretched body brittle and hollow. My eyes are sunken into my cadaverous face,…

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1 month ago

Feature: We have our reservations

Premature Evaluation: This Land Is My Land

Hickory Resource Manager 2019, more popularly known as This Land Is My Land, is an open world stealth game set in the 19th century (cowboy times) in which you play a Native American chief re-establishing his lost tribe by settling new camps, picking flowers and murdering (or just frightening) the invading colonisers. It is Red Dead Redemption turned on its stetson, ass up and spurs…

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2 months ago

Feature: Know your boundaries

Premature Evaluation: Overstep

The year is something beginning with a three or maybe even a four. Brands have become omniscient beings of pure malevolent energy coursing through the planet’s fibre optic nervous system like a bad thought. Free speech is dead. Entertainment is king. Human flesh wars, as we primitive 21st centurions know them, have ended, replaced instead with proxy battles between sexy day-glo robots with narrow waists…

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Feature: Quakey quakey rise and shine

Premature Evaluation – Wrath: Aeon Of Ruin

Who remembers the 90s? Princess Diana alive and well and driving around London in her open-topped Bentley, throwing fistfuls of rare Pogs to her adoring public. Tony Blair flying around the sky in his personalised Concorde, throwing hundreds of rare Pogs down to his adoring public. Bill Clinton, unimpeached and still full of beans, kicking back in the Oval Office, proudly showing off his collection…

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Feature: Dee aye why

Premature Evaluation: The Endless Mission

Few things fill me with dread more than a blank canvas, especially one that’s aching with untold potential, or even worse, infinite possibility. I'm talking about Little Big Planet, Super Mario Maker, and now this, The Endless Mission; games in which you are thrust into the role of the world’s omnipotent architect, an unpaid and underqualified level designer shackled with the burdensome responsibility of creation.…

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3 months ago

Feature: Mountains out of molecules

Premature Evaluation: Molek-Syntez

A chemistry teacher once tried to teach me what a molecule is, but it didn’t stick, thanks to my chronically slippery brain which refuses to retain useful information. Please correct me in the comments below, but as far as I understand the situation, molecules are like atoms but larger and with some fun accessories. If atoms are footballs, let’s say, then molecules are those big…

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Feature: Always wear your meatbelt

Premature Evaluation: 10 Miles To Safety

Just outside of my hometown there’s an air rifle shooting club owned and operated by large men whose disposition barred them from joining their local territorial army. You know the men, they smell like sawdust and are all named Colm and wear tattered promotional t-shirts from a local shotgun pellet and rat poison manufacturer called “MAD DOG FIREARMS AND FARMING SUPPLIES” and whose logo is…

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4 months ago

Feature: A clone in the dark

Premature Evaluation: Conglomerate 451

Conglomerate. Even the word sounds sinister, like it might throw a burlap sack over your head and bungle you into the back of a blacked out minivan, then pop you in the temple with a silenced pistol and throw your corpse out in the street in front of your mother’s house. Whether it’s the militaristic association of the glottal “cong”, or the overcast bleakness of…

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Feature: Everything is on fire

Premature Evaluation: Noita

As you might have already surmised, Noita is a side-scrolling roguelike in which every pixel is meticulously simulated, from the fanciest molecule of glowing gas down to the lowliest granule of common dirt. Each pebble, spark and drop of water interacts dynamically with everything else. Liquids slosh and flow and form pools, steam and smoke billow upwards and gather along the ceiling in suffocating clouds.…

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Feature: Miracle gro

Premature Evaluation: Atomicrops

It speaks to the uneasy balance between humankind’s pessimism and optimism that we’re all fairly certain we’re going to nuke one another into oblivion at some point, but that it will also be loads of fun for those who survive the blast, with mutated trees and cool trucks and glowing green goop flying everywhere. Atomicrops is one such vision of a cartoonish radioactive future, a…

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Feature: Skate or die

Premature Evaluation: Session

Skateboarding was born out of the surfer movement of California in the early 1950s, when a bunch of surfers were dismayed that their surfboards ground to a halt whenever they tried to surf along park benches or ollie over a man lying down in the street with an egg in his mouth. By adding wheels to their boards, and making the boards really tiny, and…

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5 months ago

Feature: Right side of the tracks

Premature Evaluation: Unrailed

I am repeatedly amazed by my ability to be bullied in almost any social situation, no matter how narrow the means of communication. I’m fairly certain I could be dissed by semaphore, or slagged off over morse code. In four-player co-operative track building game Unrailed you can only express yourself using four emojis and a few resource icons, but even that is enough verbal bandwidth…

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Feature: Mist opportunity

Premature Evaluation: Mist Survival

Of all the different forms of precipitation, mist is by far the spookiest. Mist is the last thing you want to see wafting out of a sepulchre, or coiling ominously around an abandoned log cabin on a moonlit night. Fog – very much the Paul Chuckle to mist’s Barry – will do in a tight spot, but to really get your intestines pumping with fear…

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6 months ago

Feature: Hell hath fury to spare

Premature Evaluation: Jupiter Hell

Often I think my life would be better if it operated as a roguelike, where I could wait as long as I needed before every step I took, to consider all possible moves before committing to one. In practice, the ability to pause time for a think would be a kind of living hell. At age three I would become wracked with decision paralysis for…

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Feature: Investing in the cloud

Premature Evaluation: Merchant Of The Skies

I love a game with a bank in it. I don’t know exactly when this happened to me, at what point I became horny for economic stability above all else, but that’s just how tedious my adult life has become. I’m now less excited about the cool stuff that happens most often in games – like strangling your dad to death on the precipice of…

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Feature: More orphan than not

Premature Evaluation: Palmyra Orphanage

Science. What a concept. It’s put men on the moon, chopped up an atom good and proper, briefly eradicated measles and edited the very building blocks of the human genome. But one field of science still eludes even our cleverest minds. What, exactly, is a scare? Well, as far as the boffins can ascertain using the best microscopes available, a scare is a kind of…

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Feature: Reap what ye explode

Premature Evaluation: Nightmare Reaper

Hey, it’s me. I was gone for a while, but now I’m back. Back to prematurely evaluate some early access games, like an impatient baker wrenching open the door of an oven and plunging his fist into a molten ball of uncooked dough. Like an open heart surgeon dialling down the anaesthesia to wake his patient up while they’re still on the operating table, just…

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