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Steve Hogarty

1 day ago

Feature: All hands on deck

Premature Evaluation: For The Warp

Early access deck builder For The Warp doesn’t so much wear its FTL influences on its sleeve, as it does creep into FTL’s bedroom when it’s out to try on FTL’s lipstick and stare dead-eyed into a vanity mirror while muttering “I’m a very pretty spacefaring roguelike, yes I am”. If FTL ever goes missing while out for a late night jog, odds are that…

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1 week ago

Feature: Hover bored

Premature Evaluation: Comanche

The latest in a long list of topics I have hurled myself into these past two weeks in the naive hope of distracting my anxiety for even just a few minutes, helicopters are all I’m choosing to think about right now. Wow, how do they work? The world is coming to an end. They’re such an exciting way to get around! Hovering celebrity death traps.…

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2 weeks ago

Feature: Crumplestiltskin

Premature Evaluation: BeamNG.drive

Don’t ask me to explain in any more detail, but I’m almost completely certain I understand what “soft-body physics” means having watched precisely one YouTube video about it while high in bed one afternoon, my own soft body draped inelegantly across the pillows and speckled in Quorn nugget crumbs, like some forgotten Renaissance masterpiece. Car simulator BeamNG.drive deals in the physics of soft bodies, objects…

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3 weeks ago

Feature: Teach a man to fish

Premature Evaluation: Russian Fishing 4

Back in the before times, before the fires and the disease came, you could feed bread to ducks without being cancelled by the bird police. Just grab a sliced pan of wholewheat Warburtons and hurl it into a lake, then watch as every duck, swan and anaemic-looking goose in the postcode descended upon it in a feathery gale, quacking and honking and feasting in a…

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4 weeks ago

Feature: Head 'n' shoulders

Premature Evaluation – Skul: The Hero Slayer

A side-scrolling roguelike with a pixel art style and an adorable little skull person protagonist, Skul: The Hero Slayer could easily be mistaken for about seven thousand other early access games. After all, we’ve long since hit peak pixel, reaching the stage in society where lovely chunky squares are the mainstream rather than the exception, and aliased edges and bezier curves have to cower and…

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1 month ago

Feature: Oh buoy oh buoy

Premature Evaluation: Raft

You’ll have heard of Raft. It’s the best open world survival crafting there is, for the singular reason that rather than having to run around to discover and excavate resources, they’re all swept towards you on a never-ending tide of stuff. Plastic, wood, leaves, potatoes. All you have to do is catch the detritus with a hook on a string and then yank it towards…

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Feature: Get your ass to Mars

Premature Evaluation: Rover Mechanic Simulator

You can keep your trendy meditation apps and your Himalayan pilgrimages to remote temples where ascetic monks ding little bells and dispense timeless wisdom, because I’ve just discovered something a thousand times more effective at achieving a semblance of inner peace. The absolute best salve for an overheating brain is to quietly dismantle a Martian rover. Just sequester yourself away in the spare room for…

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2 months ago

Feature: A mammoth task

Premature Evaluation: Totally Accurate Battle Simulator

When I was seven years old, my dad broke our Atari ST. We had been playing about with some primitive CAD software, plotting out simple shapes to render low polygon urns when he fell eerily silent. His face slackened, transfixed. His eyes became locked to the screen. Clicking over and over, the man began adding vertices anywhere they would fit, hundreds of them, tracing the…

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Feature: We'll do it live

Premature Evaluation: Not For Broadcast

Television, that prehistoric broadcast medium of unrequested shapes and noises spilling out of a furious little box that all your furniture points towards. That wretched hutch where tiny Cilla Black made her nest, where Anneka Rice routinely slipped the surly bonds of earth and a seven inch Matthew Kelly taunted families with all expenses paid trips to Costa Brava, if only dad could identify twenty…

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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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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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3 months 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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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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4 months 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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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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5 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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6 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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