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Steve Hogarty

2 days ago

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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1 week 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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2 weeks ago

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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1 month 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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2 months ago

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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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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3 months ago

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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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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4 months ago

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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5 months ago

Feature: We're going underground

Premature Evaluation – Overcrowd: A Commute ‘Em Up

Commuting is the biggest self-inflicted wound in human history. Whole cities are designed around countless dead-eyed souls expending enormous amounts of physical and mental energy ferrying themselves between their bedrooms and the place where their employment happens, flushing in and out every morning and evening like fleshy clockwork, like turds on the tides. When the great revolution comes and we are freed of the shackles…

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Feature: Does a robot even know what it means to jump?

Premature Evaluation: Levelhead

Shigeru Miyamoto is one of the few bona fide, mega-brain geniuses working in games. Inspired by the time he watched a plumber die of a concussion near a tortoise, the Nintendo luminary invented Mario in his toolshed in Kyoto, using nothing more than a couple of AAA batteries and a soldering iron.

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Feature: Incy wincy

Premature Evaluation: Dungeon Munchies

A friend of mine works for an insect farm, raising crickets and fly larvae as an alternative protein source for livestock feed, as well as for human snacks. His job is to distract each cricket for just long enough so that a colleague can swoop in from behind and humanely murder the cricket with a tiny hammer. Or at least that’s how I understood it.…

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6 months ago

Feature: Not worth the hustle

Premature Evaluation: Metro Sim Hustle

There was a time when only a privileged few were given the opportunity to create art. While the less fortunate were out tilling the fields, court-appointed portraitists were funded by royal patrons to immortalise their subject’s likeness on canvas. While us regular folk gnawed on potato peels, married our cousins and died of a cough at the ripe old age of 28, an enlightened few…

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Feature: Das early access

Premature Evaluation: UBOAT

You know you’re in for some serious submarine business when there’s an option to toggle the curvature of the earth on and off. I’m still not entirely sure what a flat earth would mean for a submarine, in any practical sense. Perhaps if the submarine wandered too close to the edge of the world it would spill over the precipice of a cosmic waterfall and…

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Feature: Tracking the greatest prey of all

Premature Evaluation: Pandemic Express – Zombie Escape

Pandemic Express is a game about a bunch of humans escaping a bunch of zombies. The humans, who all resemble French mimes in plague masks, are attempting to board and pilot a train to freedom. The zombies, who all resemble horrible goblins who’ve crept out of a Hieronymus Bosch painting, are out to stop them, using their fangs and claws to monch and clonch the…

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7 months ago

Feature: Burner cards

Premature Evaluation: Trials Of Fire

Trials Of Fire, besides having such a generic sounding title that you forget it every time you’re not looking directly at the words, is a turn-based, single-player, deck-building, choice-driven, procedurally-generated, top-down, role-playing strategy game, set in a post-cataclysmic, dark fantasy world. It’s part The Road, part Tolkien offcuts, as you guide a miserable band of fighters through a blasted wasteland in search of a series…

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