The Sunday Papers

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Sundays are for apologising about the recent lack of Sunday Papers. Holidays and Rezzed are forces that cannot be defeated.

On The Verge, Laura Hudson argued that Ready Player One is emblematic (and part) of the problems that have lead to the “cyber dystopia” we currently inhabit. There were points in this where I made an involuntary “huh” noise as Hudson joined dots that I hadn’t quite connected before, creating a powerful challenge against privilege, careless nostalgia and the inherent value of connecting people to each other.

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Free games of the week

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Do you know how many different ways you can move a string and some pegs? Let me show you, because you will certainly find out if you play the next game listed. Bending a string around a bunch of pegs leaves so much open space to wrap your string around and so many pictures to create. If you aren’t interested in the simplicity of string based puzzles, you can attempt to connect planets together to trade, frantically try to clean your room before your mother comes home, take on a bunch of monsters by blowing them off your platform, and flee from a cat in a world of hazards. Check out this week’s free games and read on… Read the rest of this entry »

What are we all playing this weekend?

Every time I use a springtime header image, I end up damning us to another week of winter. But this time, this time I’m feeling confident about sunshine, frolicking, cans in the park, taps aff, and all the other springtime goodtimes we’ll see for real this weekend. But just in case, perhaps it’s sensible to have an indoors backup plan.

What are you playing this weekend? Here’s what we’re clicking on!

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Samsung CHG90 review: We’re gonna need a bigger desk

Samsung CHG90

The Samsung CHG90, or the LC49HG90DMNXZA to give it its full and proper title, is by far the most ludicrous monitor I’ve ever seen. Measuring a whopping 49in across its fancy curved diagonal, this ultra-super-stupidly-wide 32:9, 3840×1080, 144Hz, HDR (let me catch my breath for a second) FreeSync 2 VA display is proper bonkers. And I sort of kind of love it. Read the rest of this entry »

Unknown Pleasures: About four to six great new Steam games

Going to big social things alone would have been unthinkable a year ago and is still pretty scary. Thanks for being so lovely, everyone.

It’s been a strange week here at the Pleasuredome. Once again, a bud of the Hivemind prepares to detach and spread in-jokes and sinister, fungaloid thoughts about user interfaces to a new, unsuspecting host. And I’d only just confirmed he’s real, too. Bye bye, Adam. Subvert from within, yeah?

Still, on the plus side, I high fived Aby Wolf the other night. And now it’s time for Unknown Pleasures! Heavens.

Shamelessly namedropping far more talented people we’ve briefly orbited this week: chasing rabbits, redirecting lasers, and justifying patricide.

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“Below our lowest expectations” – why EVE devs CCP pulled out of VR

Six months ago, EVE Online developer CCP Games pulled out of the virtual reality market. The move came as a shock, given how well-suited and devoted CCP seemed to be to the tech, with international studios in the US and UK working on VR titles, and a tech-savvy EVE player base who were more likely to adopt VR early in its development cycle. As recently as last year’s EVE Fanfest, CEO Hilmar Veigar Pétursson had been bullish about the technology and the company’s investment in its VR teams, so last week, at this year’s Fanfest, we asked him what had changed and what went wrong.

In short, hardly anyone was playing.

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The Flare Path: Asks Oskari

Crafted with care and marketed without hyperbole, Diesel Railcar Simulator is that rare thing, a transport sim that transports without crucifying your wallet, cooking your GPU, and burying you under an avalanche of key commands. A conglomeration of incredibly sensible design decisions, it’s been winning friends and gaining content steadily since appearing, seemingly from nowhere, late last summer. In today’s FP I talk to Oskari, the man behind all those sensible design decisions. Read the rest of this entry »

Best PC gaming deals of the week

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If you happen to be living in the UK right now, it’s more than likely that you are currently under the watchful gaze of the most oppressive sun we’ve seen all year. Whether you reckon that’s a good thing or a bad thing, we’ve got a brand new batch of video game related deals for you to check out this very week, while you either bask in, hide from or praise this brand new sun.

As usual, we’ve got deals that’ll work in the UK, deals that’ll work in the US and some deals that will work in both the UK and US, as well as presumably many other places. Let’s get started.

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Podcast: Being a critic makes games better (and worse)

This is how Adam will leave us next week. In a truck

Oh no. Somebody sound the “journalists discussing journalism” klaxon. Rattle it as loudly and furiously as possible, because the RPS podcast, the Electronic Wireless Show, is talking about how being a critic changes the way we play. Don’t blame us, blame listener Aleksei, who sent in the theme as a suggestion. But please also forgive Adam, because it’s his last showing on the podcast (he’s leaving RPS next week) so he deserves a bit of self-indulgence. Read the rest of this entry »

The Joy of Telltale’s Bruce Wayne and Selina Kyle

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As an actual adult human being who still reads DC comics, I have to put up with a lot of BatBullShit. It’s not the brooding that gets to me or even the weird and sudden flips between psychologically scarring street-level crimefighting and wacky Justice League space adventures. It’s not the callbacks to events from previous decades that I don’t care about or understand, and it’s not even the fact that the world’s greatest detective solves far too many problems by punching people until they stop moving.

It’s the romance that bothers me. The sexytimes. I really don’t care if Batman and Catwoman are making out on a rooftop, or tearing off each other’s costumes in Crime Alley or some other unfortunate locale. It’s not that I object to any of these mostly miserable characters having a bit of fun every once in a while, but just as in a computer game when two doll-like faces smash together and I’m supposed to pretend I’m witnessing a passionate and intimate moment, these caped and costumed comic characters don’t seem real enough for anything other than the kind of sex-free coupling that Ken and Barbie might engage in.

How remarkable, then, that Telltale’s Batman Series actually had my favourite romantic moment in any game I’ve played for a good while.

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No rest for the wicked: OZMAFIA!! review

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Join Ella McConnell for Waifu Material, a monthly column in which she navigates the murky, cherry-blossom-strewn waters of visual novels, dating sims, and everything in between (reader masochism not required but strongly recommended). [Content warning: discussion of yet more sketchy consent stuff.]

When I first got my hands on OZMAFIA!!, I was unconvinced it’d take me as long to finish as people suggested. Reviews on Steam said the main route alone could take 20 to 30 hours, with full completion clocking in at over 50 hours for some. I laughed. Clearly they were just slow, especially as the game has the visual novel staple skip button (which lets you speed through text you’ve already read and quickly reach the points where you make choices that cause the narrative to branch).

They were not slow.

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Has Playerunknown’s Battlegrounds been improved by its updates?

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Update Night is a fortnightly column in which Rich McCormick revisits games to find out whether they’ve been changed for better or worse.

“Golf is a good walk spoiled,” Mark Twain is supposed to have said. If he was writing about videogames in 2018 (and not, you know, dead for the last century), I think old Twainy boy would have said the same about PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds.
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Persistence & Permadeath: progression in Spelunky, Into the Breach and roguelikes

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Progression is so often an illusion. Many games use the idea of permanent progression as a way of tickling our lizard brains with a growing pile of loot or numbers which constantly tick up, so that we feel like we’re achieving something while we sit in front of a computer and repeat the same set of tasks over and over again.

The beauty of permadeath is that it does away with all this. Characters grow and collect things, but then they become permadead, and it’s time for a new explorer to begin their adventure. The only thing that progresses is you, the player, slowly learning a set of systems with each failure. At least, that’s the theory. We spoke to the designers of Spelunky, Into the Breach, Dead Cells and Rogue Legacy to learn more about persistence within a permadeath mould.

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Best DDR4 RAM 2018: Our top memory for gaming and buying guide

Best DDR4 RAM 2018

Let’s face it, RAM isn’t the most exciting part of any PC build, but getting the right type, the right amount and the right speed can make a difference to how your system performs. Plus, the latest RAM even has RGB lighting. Here you’ll find our comprehensive guide to what to look for when buying RAM for your system, plus our pick of the best options for a range of budgets. Read the rest of this entry »

Premature Evaluation: Radical Heights

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Premature Evaluation is the weekly column in which we explore the wilds of early access. This week, Fraser’s trying to win prizes and also senselessly fight strangers in ’80s battle royale game show, Radical Heights.

With Lawbreakers being left to fend for itself after failing to seduce enough players, Boss Key Productions has pivoted to something that’s undeniably more popular: battle royales. There’s been quite a bit of cynicism regarding Radical Heights and Boss Key’s 180, but not from me, a man without a cynical bone in his body. And as someone who was five at the end of the ’80s, I have an incredibly strong connection to the era. The Poll Tax. The miners’ strike. My first day of school. All the highlights. But how high are the highs of Radical Heights? There’s only one way to find out.

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Wot I Think: Lobotomy Corporation

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Lobotomy Corporation is an extremely simple game that’s also about as complicated as building a microwave from scratch. This supernatural research and containment sim straddles that treacherously thin line between brilliance and disaster, which is of course where all the most interesting games end up.
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AMD Ryzen 5 2400G review: Impressive 1080p gaming without the need for a dedicated graphics card

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Graphics card prices have been up in the clouds so long that the idea of them ever falling back down to something that doesn’t make us weep with despair seems almost as fanciful as the idea of earning more than six pence from the dreaded ongoing crypto-mining craze. They will, of course, come down at some point, but that’s of little comfort to us in the here and now, especially if you’re in need of a new PC.

But let me ask you a question. Do you really need a fancy new graphics card? Because if money’s tight and you’re willing to put up with a few compromises, the AMD Ryzen 5 2400G could be just what you’re looking for.
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Pivross is a 3D picross game that still needs some work

Pivross is a 3D picross game, which is – and someone will correct me if I’m wrong – the first of its type on PC. That is what piqued my interest. It is, unfortunately, not nearly as good as it needs to be. But then again, the first fifth is free, so you can find out for yourself without risk.
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Unknown Pleasures: The five best new games on Steam

I can't think of a good caption because I keep getting distracted by these bloody ants faffing about in my room.

Infants. Infants everywhere. Ooh, look at me, I’m like a human but smaller and I’m allowed to scream and climb on stuff if I want to, oooh. End of term holidays are when you’re supposed to be indoors playing games, not studying or going outside like some sort of peon. Bah. Wake me up when they’re all back in school juggling cats or bouncer baiting, or whatever this week’s Fear The Yoof thing is.

Why, I bet they don’t even know what Unknown Pleasures is named after.

Pointing out what used to be grass this week: naive snipers, murine nomads, and a little blobby blob that boings.

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The problem with building a car in Jalopy

This is The Mechanic, where Alex Wiltshire invites developers to discuss the difficult journeys they’ve taken to make their games. This time, Jalopy [official site].

”A lot of people have made the correlation between game development being a janky mess and the car in the game being a janky mess,” says Greg Pryjmachuk, the sole developer of Jalopy, a game about driving a Laika 601 Deluxe through the countries of the former Soviet bloc with your uncle. “It does seem quite apt.”

But he’s definitely being a little hard on himself. Jalopy is a game he never intended to be as big as it’s become, a project he started to escape from mainstream development. A couple of weeks back, after two years in Early Access, it finally reached its official launch, and with it has come a slew of negative reviews and angry forum threads born of a weight of expectation that Jalopy’s rattling old chassis was never really designed to live up to. Read the rest of this entry »