Wot I Think: For Honor

There’s a scene in the History Channel’s Vikings where the protagonist, Ragnar Lothbruk, says he is “bloodsick” after a hard fought campaign. He’s maudlin, weary of everything. It’s as if he is coming down from a dark age combat high. Well, that’s sort of how For Honor leaves me feeling after a battle. Even if my team won, I’m frustrated and irritable at all the small deaths. That attack from behind by three other players. That shonky, crowded melee amid the NPC pawns. Those dozen cuts from a Samurai blade that I could have sworn I was blocking. All of it working together to leave me weary, sighing and bloodsick.
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Semispheres is brilliant, and will break your brain in half

We seem to be in something of a blessed time for puzzle games. Alongside the big names are an ever-growing pile of previously unknown indies creating really inspired ideas, and right near the top of that pile is Semispheres [official site]. A single-player split-screen mind-fuck that’s at once deeply relaxing and brain-rippingly smart. Read the rest of this entry »

Wot I Think: Hidden Folks

Perhaps the most important thing about Hidden Folks [official site] is how it manages to contain so much unabashed happiness. Taking the Where’s Wally concept and making it far more complex, despite being in black and white, these intricate wimmelbilderbuch art drawings (got to use it again!) burst with silly life. Click on anything and something will happen, whether it’s birds squawking and taking off, monkeys falling out of trees, boats sailing further down a river, hay bales rolling across a field, or doors opening to reveal people sitting on the toilet, each is accompanied by a man-made sound effect. Which is both daft and wonderful, which are the two words that best describe Hidden Folks. Read the rest of this entry »

Well BOOR Is Rather Lovely

You don’t actually need an original gimmick, developers. You can just take an old gimmick and do it really well. That’s BOOR’s [official site] approach, a 2D platform puzzle game in which your character can create very temporary clones of herself and work in cooperation with them. We’ve seen it lots of times before, but when a good idea is done nicely, it’s – well – a good idea! Make it utterly, utterly lovely to look at and you’re well on your way. Read the rest of this entry »

Premature Evaluation: Quarantine

Every week we send Brendan into the no-go zones of early access to take pus-filled samples of half-made games. This time, the infectious disease management of Quarantine [official site].

Beijing, Chengdu, and Dehli are all quarantined. Michael Clayborn, my crack medical operative who has served me faithfully, has died in the industrial Siberian wastes of Irkutsk. The entirety of South America has been sealed off from the rest of the world, and Manaus is now considered a “lost city” so infused with disease that it can’t be treated or approached in any way. People are stating to suffer “pustulent buboes” in Santiago, a highly contagious development that I need to deal with. A pop-up box aide comes to me with a decision to make. Do I want to distribute medicine and help the suffering masses of Latin America? Or should I send in some white coats to analyze these curious buboes? Of course, I send in the scientists.
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Wot I Think: Alwa’s Awakening

There are a lot of retro platformers about just now. And most of them are pretty rubbish, echoing games they remember without really understanding them, or fixating on some deluded belief that it was great in the 80s when they were near-impossible to play (Chuckie Egg 2, anyone?), and that pixel-perfect jumps and ludicrous insta-kills with no saves are a sepia-toned nostalgic cuddle we can only wish to embrace once again. No. They were terrible games, stop emulating them.

Meanwhile, 8-bit NES-a-like Alwa’s Awakening [official site] by Elden Pixels is bloody brilliant. Read the rest of this entry »