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Reviews

1 month ago

Feature: Welcome to the baby factory

Premature Evaluation: Cro Magnon

Premature Evaluation is the weekly column in which we explore the wilds of early access. This week, Fraser’s been placed in charge of a tiny prehistoric tribe in deadly Stone Age survival management game, Cro Magnon. Manhome isn’t much of a village, just a ring of knackered tents that provides shelter for a small tribe of hunter-gatherers. The latest fad is fire, and a small…

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Feature: Stinker tailor soldier spy

Phantom Doctrine review

Everything I'd read about Phantom Doctrine excited me. Unravelling Cold War conspiracies in a spy-flavoured XCOM was an enthralling elevator pitch, and the details seemed to back up that promise. Yes, you can brainwash enemy agents and yes, your enemy can do the same. Yes, there's an emphasis on stealth and deception, employed on both a strategic management layer and through tactical turn-based missions that…

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Feature: Spice kills - quit now

Star Traders: Frontiers review

Star Traders: Frontiers is a huge stellar sandbox with an evolving galaxy that moves forward with or without you. It’s liberating, not being on the hook for every little problem. As a free-wheeling captain, you can ingratiate yourself with the most important galactic players, becoming embroiled in the highest level of politics, or you can just enjoy the life of a scoundrel, smuggling and stealing…

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2 months ago

Feature: Possessing

Unavowed review

Unavowed is unquestionably one of the most impressive point and click adventures made in many, many years. It's of a scale I wasn't at all expecting, with layer upon layer of complexity and variety in a way the genre has genuinely never seen before. It's also a darned fine yarn of demonic battling across the streets of New York, that tells its story in a…

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Feature: More ore

Premature Evaluation: MoonQuest

MoonQuest was definitely lying to me. It assured me that what I was looking at was a horse, but I’ve seen a few horses before and I’m pretty sure none of them looked like alien llama-giraffe-monsters. The name tag hung there, daring me to question it. OK, I thought, I’ll suspend my disbelief. I jumped on the supposed horse, wondering if I might be able…

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Feature: It caught on in a flash

Monster Hunter: World review

“The plural of ‘monster’ is ‘monst’.” Nietzsche, probably. Welcome hunter. If you’ve already got a decent idea of what the hunting of monst is all about, and you’re just here to make sure the rescue from the darkest recesses of console exclusivity went smoothly, you’ll want to head over to Katharine’s rundowns. For the record, my own experience has been largely positive since the latest…

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Feature: Fast food

Overcooked 2 review

Co-op chef-‘em-up Overcooked 2, much like its predecessor, is less about cooking and more about chaos management. The sequel builds on the solid foundation of the first game, bringing in new recipes, hazardous levels, and online multiplayer for maximum pandemonium. Oh, and you can throw ingredients now, which can be incredibly slick if you sling them across the kitchen and directly into a pan, but…

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Feature: What a handsome rogue

Dead Cells review

Dead Cells gets into your nervous system like a wonderful toxin. If it wasn’t so fast-paced, you could almost feel the electro-chemical effects pulsing through your body, from hand to eye to screen to brain, as your panicked flurry of knife strikes eviscerates another sewer worm. The game began as a “roguevania”, and it was strong even in its early days. But the final version…

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Feature: Aliens like Plunkbat too

Premature Evaluation – Islands of Nyne: Battle Royale

Premature Evaluation is the weekly column in which we explore the wilds of early access. This week, Fraser’s getting hunted down by streamers in Islands of Nyne: Battle Royale. It's a sci-fi FPS in a lovely alien theme park that also happens to be a massive murder arena full of angry supersoldiers. Islands of Nyne bills itself as a battle royale for the competitive crowd…

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Feature: Whip it good

La-Mulana 2 review

This might just be the strangest game I've played in years. A peculiar mix that, while frustrating in plenty of areas, managed to charm me with its sheer absurdity. Like any good archaeologist though, let's start at the surface and work our way down (I think that's how it works anyway; everything I know about archaeology I learned from Dr Grant* in Jurassic Park).

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Feature: Yakety yak, Heat attack.

Yakuza 0 review

Many games are defined by the amassing of wealth but few take such an unseemly, predatory relish in the idea as Yakuza 0. The first of Sega's Japanese crime epics to appear on PC, it's an orgy of late 80s materialism in which you don't merely earn cash by defeating opponents but punch it out of their bodies - banknotes blasting from collars and shirt…

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Feature: I'm going to need a Saga holiday after this

The Banner Saga 3 review

After waiting two long years for the final instalment of Stoic's fantastical strategy trilogy, The Banner Saga 3 begins in the best possible way. It picks up where the second The Banner Saga 2 left off, and one of the first things you get to do is punch your scheming arch nemesis - who probably made your last moments of that second game a right…

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Feature: Never start with a mage

Premature Evaluation: Wayward Souls

Premature Evaluation is the weekly column in which we explore the wilds of early access. This week, Fraser’s back on the roguelikes with Wayward Souls. It looks like Secret of Mana, but it’s meaner. It might have been a mistake to play as the mage. Wayward Souls’ dungeons promise death at the hands, claws and slimey appendages of countless beasties, but my first killer was…

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Feature: Appears to be good

Semblance review

It must be such a marvellous moment when you realise you've struck upon a great idea for a game. It must be sublime when you realise you also have the technical ability to realise it. That applies for Semblance, a cute-n-complicated puzzle platformer in which your character can bish and bosh and bash into the platforms to reshape them.

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Feature: Check out is at never

The Spectrum Retreat review

The Spectrum Retreat is a game that really wants to be the new Portal, and I can respect that. It’s good to be ambitious. But raw ideas matter less than their implementation, and when it comes to execution, The Spectrum Retreat doesn’t quite manage to reach the level of polish and elegance it aspires to.

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Feature: Early access review

Clicker Heroes 2 wants to be so much more than a clicker game – and that’s the problem

Clicker Heroes 2 marks the point that clicker games - y'know, the ones all about making numbers go ever-higher with a minimum of interaction - encroach so far into action-RPG territory that I'm not sure I'll ever be able to play a Diablolike again. The illusion is shattered; the pretence that I play hacker-slashers for any reason beyond numerical embiggening ripped away. Clicker Heroes 2…

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Feature: Partial Recall

Far Cry 5 – Lost On Mars review

Far Cry 5 continues Ubisoft's on-paper rather charming habit of adding DLC to its games that completely transforms them into something else. Vietnam-themed Hours Of Darkness rather passed us by, but Lost On Mars joined us last week so I thought I'd take a look. It's... it's really bloody awful.

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Feature: My personal torment

My, er, friend is finding To Hell With Hell rather difficult

A question for you: What should one do when one is reviewing a game, but it's far, far too hard for one to get anywhere in? I'm asking for a friend. A friend who's reviewing the early access for To Hell With Hell (THWH), a pixelly bullet hell roguelite that's tough as really bloody tough nails.

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Feature: Can YOU survive the tedium?

Premature Evaluation: Seeds of Resilience

Premature Evaluation is the weekly column in which we explore the wilds of early access. This week, Fraser’s been kicked off the HMS Horace and left stranded on Seeds of Resilience’s deserted island. He’s found a new job though: managing a colony of fellow castaways. Probably more game journalists. The sea’s lousy with them. I’ve been staring at the mostly static screen - an island…

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Feature: A solid and tense card-battler, but not even slightly insane

Insane Robots review

Insane Robots is a hybrid card game/roguelite that truly believes it's wacky and zany and kerrayzee, in the manner of a middle-aged insurance salesman who kicks back by wearing a t-shirt reading "I'm bonkers, me!" while manning his six-burner gas barbecue with temperature gauge, modular hotplate and removable drip tray. Just don't make eye contact, yeah? It is, however, an entirely proficient game of turn-based…

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