Thomas Was Alone creator launches Subsurface Circular

After telling stories about shapes then even a teenager, the fella behind Thomas Was Alone and Volume has taken another step up the consciousness scale for his next story with a game about robots. Bithell’s studio today both announced and launched Subsurface Circular [official site], a short text adventure starring a robot detective investigating missing robots. It’s a text-based story-o-puzzler where you gather new words rather than items, an expanded vocabulary opening new opportunities. While it’s all wordy-like, it does have some nice pictures to go along with it. Read the rest of this entry »

Unknown Pleasures: this week’s Steam new release highlights

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Welcome back to Unknown Pleasures, our weekly round-up of the best new but under-reported games released on Steam over the past seven days.

This week: SF startup simulation, nihilistic Tetris, toilet humour and fantasy RPG Tinder.
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Fyre it up! Cities: Skylines launches Concerts DLC

How difficult can organising a music festival be? Oh, right. Well! If you’ve got the moxie despite being woefully underqualified, you can now step up and organise concerts with the latest “mini-expansion” for city-builder Cities: Skylines [official site]. It lets players build festival grounds, host bands, and hopefully not end up with a musical mega-hell. It’s not a deep business simulation but might be a bit of fun to brighten up your city. Read the rest of this entry »

Quake Champions enters early access arena next week

Something about putting the words ‘Quake’ and ‘early access’ into the same sentence makes me dizzy. We’re in another world these days, but back in the day Quakes were games that arrived so fully-formed, so absolute and monumental, that the idea of being able to buy an unfinished one makes the damn fool old man who sits at the back of my head wave his walking stick around furiously.

But there it is: id Software’s multiplayer-only shooter Quake Champions [official site] is strafing into the rough’n’readier part of Steam in just five days.

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Podcast: The Electronic Wireless Show talks Gamescom, The Long Dark and Plunkbat

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Toss another podcast episode upon the fire, stranger. The cold is closing in but the Electronic Wireless Show will keep us warm. Pip, Alice and Adam gather round the podfire this week to talk about the lies (Adam tells) at Gamescom, the icy reception to The Long Dark‘s story mode, the cleansing rain of Playerunknown’s Battlegrounds, and the deadly climates of No Man’s Sky.

We then turn to you, listeners, to discuss your favourite in-game weather. And somewhere in the middle there’s also a long discussion about karaoke, for some reason. Read the rest of this entry »

Bob Ross, Team RPS and goodness knows who else star in XCOM 2: War of the Chosen propaganda

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As someone who knows what twitter is, I have seen many brands invite people to manipulate images or add their own text to things imagining that the internet will adhere to the company’s #brand #values and not e.g. draw genitals all over the place or make jokes at the brand’s expense and then the brand discovers that you maybe need to hope and pray that the adage about all publicity being good holds true.

That’s why I’m interested in this XCOM 2: War of the Chosen [official site] Propaganda Center promo tool, because Firaxis seem to have hit upon a way of obviously asking the internet to do their marketing for them but without accidentally building in the capacity for making themselves the laughing stock in all of this or immediately losing all goodwill they may have accumulated. Read the rest of this entry »

Have You Played… Zuma Deluxe?

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Have You Played? is an endless stream of game retrospectives. One a day, every day, perhaps for all time.

The lesser loved of Popcap’s moreish games, lacking the bombast of Peggle, character of Plants vs. Zombies or the pure relaxation of Bejeweled. Still, I love Zuma, a game about a frog spitting balls at a big line of balls. Read the rest of this entry »

First Lawbreakers patch nerfs overpowered abilities

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Lawbreakers [official site], as I wrote yesterday, is an excellent zero-gravity FPS that you should probably play if you like fast-paced action. It’s also a very balanced game, with no one class able to dominate. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t the odd tweak to be made, and developers Boss Key Productions have released the game’s first post-launch patch with welcome nerfs to some classes.

The Harrier’s Convergence ability is their first target. It’s a giant, powerful laser beam that she shoots from her chest and kills you before you have time to react. So, its base damage has now been bumped down from 500 DPS to 400 DPS to “make it easier for coordinated teams to take advantage of Harrier’s vulnerability” (she can’t move very much when she fires it). I approve.

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Campaigning with Total War: Warhammer 2’s Skaven

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When Great Warlord Queek Headtaker fell in battle, it wasn’t a particularly heroic end. Nor was it especially brave; he was fleeing from the battlefield when an enraged dinosaur trampled him. But the Skaven, Total War: Warhammer 2’s [official site] long-teased and recently revealed fourth race, don’t have much use for bravery or heroism. They’re sneaky, untrustworthy rodents, and for 30 turns of the campaign, I led them to several unchivalrous victories and one devastating defeat.

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A watched pot etc: Cook Serve Delicious! 2!! delayed!!!

Frantic food ’em up Cook, Serve, Delicious! 2!! [official site] will not be served to us this month after all. The sequel to 2013’s surprisingly super restaurant management and cooking game was on the menu for August 24th but is now pushed back to September 13th. It needs a little more time on the gamegrill, see. I’d rather eat late than suffer digital salmonella poisoning, especially when the meal looks so appetising. Read the rest of this entry »

Warframe devs show off The Amazing Eternals

The makers of free-to-play hit Warframe have unveiled their next game, The Amazing Eternals [official site]. Announced in May under the name Keystone, The Amazing Eternals is a first-person ‘hero’ shooter with a splash of deck-building thrown in for cards giving power-ups and abilities. Yup, it’s a bit like Overwatch meets Paladins, or Titanfall, or Battlefront, or… you know, it’s smooshing together several concepts in the air tonight. Oh lord. And I’ve been waiting for this moment for all my life, oh lord. Can you feel it coming in the air tonight? Oh lord. Oh lord. Read the rest of this entry »

Prey finally has a real demo on PC (but is calling it a trial except when it calls it a demo)

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Oh, nice! After trying to highlight a few games that have PC demos recently (I do like a demo – it’s far friendlier than a refund scheme and can actually be really interesting as a piece of curation or editing in and of itself, although obv it then requires more work and doesn’t contain the possibility of someone forgetting to get a refund or straying outside the no-questions refund period) there’s now one for the sci-fi adventure, Prey [official site]. Read the rest of this entry »

Crackdown 3 delayed into 2018

The open-world supercop superfights of Crackdown 3 [official site] need a little more time to become more super, and so has been delayed. It was due on November 7th but has been pushed back into spring 2018. Before then, it was due in 2016. The delay is because the makers want Crackdown 3 to be a good game but it needs more time, yeah? The usual reason for a delay. The usue. The ushe? The usge? The uzhe? The youzhe? The yuzh? The yoozh? The üse? The /juːʒ/. Point is: Crackdown 3 is delayed because making games is difficult and making good games is moreso. Read the rest of this entry »

LawBreakers is a zero-gravity FPS that nearly touches the sky

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It’s hard not to get excited about LawBreakers‘ [official site] simple hook: flying military grunts with rockets strapped to their feet zip around zero gravity arenas dodging grenades and pumping bullets into each other. I’m happy to report that it’s as fun as it sounds, and its ideas set it apart from other games in the genre. Yet what has impressed me more is how polished it is away from those aerial segments, which actually only make up part of the action. Far from a one-trick pony, LawBreakers is a rock solid shooter with game modes that necessitate team play, and although it’s not fully complete yet (there’s ranked play coming soon) it’s got enough variety to keep me coming back for more. Read the rest of this entry »

Bizarre bestiaries and weird relics: what fantasy can learn from history

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Swords. Castles. Peasants, knights, shieldmaidens, queens, kings, princes, bandits and men at arms. Games often draw on certain aspects of medieval history, whether they’re using it to add colour and flavour to a limb-lopping action game, swords ‘n’ sorcery platformer or fantasy RPG. But there’s more to the period than grim warriors, noble (and cruel) kings, and dank dungeons. A few games, including The Witcher 3 and Crusader Kings, dig beneath the surface to capture some of the mystery and wonder of a time thick with superstition and folklore, but the middle ages have many more tales to tell.

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Peter Molyneux’s The Trail strolls onto PC

Lionheaded bullfrog Peter Molyneux and his 22Cans studio today launched the PC version of their hike ’em up The Trail: Frontier Challenge [official site]. It’s a game where players walk a path across a wild frontier, not to be confused with walking simulators where we get to have a lovely wander where we please. Along the way, folks get to collect stuff, take up a profession, craft, trade, dress up, and build a home. The Trail first hit pocket telephones last year, and has been reworked a touch for PC. Read the rest of this entry »

Meet The Evil Within 2’s tortured/torturous artist

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Let’s all go on holiday! To a twisted horror-world that exists solely as the manifestation of a fractured and agonised mind. Sure, the walls will probably bleed and that clock over there is definitely screaming about the severed threads of temporal stability, but there’s so much to see and do. And let’s not forget all the wonderful people we’ll meet as we hike from one attraction to the next.

There’s Stefano Valentini, for instance. He used to be a photojournalist but now he’s an artist who likes nothing more than creating tableaux of peoples’ dying moments. And because it’s not every day you stumble across someone’s dying moment, he’s taken to creating some magical moments of his own. By murdering people. The Evil Within 2 [official site] looks as gruesomely and gloriously daft as the first, and I am totally on board with this nasty disciple of Sander Cohen.

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Skaven tunnel into Total War: Warhammer 2

The Skaven ratmen are seen as rumour, hearsay, or heresy in the world of Warhammer. Who’d believe that an empire of giant pestilent rats lies beneath our feet? Similarly, Sega have tried to play it cool with the Skaven in Total War: Warhammer 2 [official site]. After five months of teasing a mysterious fourth faction — which has clearly been the Skaven, clear since the chuffing announcement trailer — today they finally confirmed that yup, that ratty rabble will round out Total Warhammer 2. You never really know they’re real until they’re rolling towards you with doom-blasting hamster wheels and vast abominations, as the other factions experience in this new trailer: Read the rest of this entry »

ReBOOt! Horror adventure Black Mirror returns this year

The Black Mirror, the horror adventure series kicked off in 2003 by Future Games then followed by two sequels from another studio, is returning this year with a reboot. The new Black Mirror [official site] is set in a new place with a new story so it’s basically a new game with an old game, but it has drafted some familiar help. Black Mirror is being made by King Art Games, who made a lot of Black Mirror II and went on to create adventure games including The Book of Unwritten Tales and The Raven. Black Mirror is due on November 28th. For now, here’s the announcement trailer: Read the rest of this entry »