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  • Image for Benchmarking has completely ruined my Steam play time profile

    I don't know if you know this about me, but I love a good list. For the past ten years, I've kept a detailed spreadsheet of all the games I've ever played. The bulk of it catalogues games by platform, but I've also kept a list of all the games I play per year since 2010. Call me crazy, but this document is a great source of joy for me. I love being able to look back and see when I last played a certain game, and it's also interesting to me to see just how many of them I manage to play each year. I also keep similar lists for films I see at the cinema, the books I read, as well as the plays and musicals I see at the theatre. I'm not kidding. I really do love a good list.

    Perhaps unsurprisingly, I'm also fascinated by the amount of time I spend playing games, too (and yes, I do have a list for this as well - albeit only for my Nintendo Wii games at the moment). Steam, of course, keeps excellent track of your play time - and because it's always open on my PC, there's no need to keep my own version of it. I can just load up my Steam profile and gaze lovingly at the hours and minutes in my All Games tab. Except I can't anymore, because four years' worth of professional benchmarking has absolutely ruined my play time figures. It upsets me. Because I haven't really spent 130 hours playing Shadow Of The Tomb Raider. Or 38 hours playing Doom. It's all benchmarking, and I wish there was a way to scrub these games clean again so everything can be nice and neat and orderly again, and most of all, accurate.

  • Image for Give yourself a good day by playing Webbed

    It was 3am and Hucks the cellar spider was finally surrounded by, instead of carrying, her wee hatchlings. Clarice, her slightly dim neighbour, was resting after another hour spent fruitlessly stumbling around after an even dafter flying thingy that would eventually blunder right into her face.

    Playing Webbed seemed inevitable for someone who watches her ceiling spiders when she can't sleep or finish an article. But within about a minute of playing, it became clear that it's the kind of game that will bring joy to almost anyone. Webbed is immediately brilliant.

  • Image for Shashingo helps you learn Japanese through photography and I'd like it now please

    Despite being half Japanese, I know very, very little of the language. It pains me, it really does. Occasionally I get this urge to learn it, and lately it's bubbled up because I'm planning on jetting over there next year [laughs in covid]. Unfortunately, all my efforts at self-study have gone down the pan.

    I've tried learning Japanese using audio courses and textbooks, but my discipline wanes only a couple of months in. There are many reasons why I suck at self-study, but flashcards are one of them. Sorry, but they suck and they are tedious. This is where I hope the upcoming 'edutainment' game Shashingo will change my relationship with them.

  • Image for Things left on my office desk after 18 months of working from home

    Apparently I am one of about six people in the entire world who hates working from home. I can't do it. At home I am lazy, unproductive, and I accidentally do hours of overtime despite this, because I have no place where work ends and home begins. In March 2020, we were all officially sent home for a temporary office closure, the definition of "temporary" soon being stretched as far as I allow my credulity to when I watch The Prestige. It's magical! David Bowie makes thousands of hats!

    Anyway, at the tail end of last week I returned to the office, which it turns out is still almost entirely empty. It's like working from home except I have to wear trousers (also Graham is here too so I can kick his chair and throw stuff at him). I spent a few hours on the first day creeping about looking at everything that had been left here for 18 months, and concluded that if our office were a level in a post-apocalyptic game, or a scene in 28 Days later, it would be pretty embarrassing.

  • The party prepare themselves for battle in Final Fantasy IV's 3D Remake

    Supporters only: Of all the retro Final Fantasy games, you should definitely make time for FF4

    Although I'd probably stick with the 3D Remake over the new Pixel Remaster

    I came to Final Fantasy IV (or II, if you're American) pretty late in the day. At the time, back in the mists of 1991, it was never actually released in the UK. I was also just three-years-old then, but that's besides the point. Instead, we had to wait another decade until it got a proper UK release, where it landed on the original PlayStation in 2002. However, because I was young and naive and far too wrapped up playing Final Fantasies VII-IX at that point, it never even occurred to me to look back down the Roman numeral line and pick it up. Heck, I even missed its appearance on the GBA in 2006 - arguably the last 'best' version of this early 90s classic. It wasn't until the 3D Remake arrived on the Nintendo DS in 2008 that I finally sat up and took notice - a whole 17 years after it first came out.

    But cor, I'm glad I did, because Final Fantasy IV is still arguably one of the best Final Fantasy games ever made, and is easily the best (or second best, depending on who you ask) of the older retro ones. If there's one Final Fantasy game you make time for over the next few months, make it FFIV.

  • Two teams of American football players face off in Axis Football 2021

    The sport of Americaball was about the last thing I was expecting to enjoy in 2019. Since then, I've skipped an entry but come back for Axis Football 2021 and found myself impressed despite having higher standards now.

    It may have taken a long iterative route, but this is becoming a strong sport series even if you're not a fan of pooting the old dogskin.

  • The player glides across DokeV's world on an umbrella.

    I reckon I'm not too bad at winding down in the evenings. Often I'll chill in Discord with some friends and treat myself to a Müller Corner, maybe even a banana as a special treat. Afterwards (or before, depending on how young the night is), if I'm feeling particularly decadent, I'll run myself a bath and use the special "Muscle Therapy" bubble bath mixture that looks suspiciously like blood.

    I'd say most of the time this ritual leads to a solid night's sleep. But for some reason, I got cocky last night. Just before beddy-byes I listened to that music from the DokeV Geoffscom reveal trailer, purely because I thought "why not, huh?". And I've not been the same since.

  • A sea of repeating RPS logos.

    Hello folks. Hope you've all been keeping well. It's been another busy month here at RPS, wot with Gamescom and Geoff Keighley's megamix taking over the internet for a spell. But we've also had a few big changes of our own in recent weeks, which I'd thought I'd relay to you here in my second Letter From The Editor, available to all RPS supporters. We've had a couple of new faces join the team over the last month, new powers granted to some of our behind-the-scenes staff and, sadly, we've also got one, very imminent departure - all of which I'll explain below.

  • Image for You should all play the Strange Horticulture demo and wishlist it immediately

    I am very bad at maths, but when I was a kid I really liked doing basic equations and algebra and stuff. I liked methodically writing things out on graph paper, all neat and staying between the lines. I do not actually like maths, but I liked the action of quietly sorting something out by myself.

    Strange Horticulture, which I got excited about as soon as I heard it existed, is like that - quiet, methodical, rain drumming on the roof, labelling plants and running a finger down the taxonomic list in your Big Book O' Weird Plants... except I'm not having to use the quadratic formula, which, for reasons relating to a jaunty song my maths teacher repeatedly played, I am cursed to remember forever.

  • A screenshot from Blackout: The Darkest Night, arranged like a page in a comic book, showing the character looking at themselves in the mirror in a public bathroom, then having a vision of strange symbols appearing suddenly on the wall

    Despite it forming a sizeable portion of my favourite games ever, I don't play all that much interactive fiction. It's a strange realm of games. It asks very little, and yet is also sort of hard to get into.

    Blackout: The Darkest Night is a "choose your own adventure" style piece with some light jigsaw puzzles. Where even some of my favourites took a bit of time and focus to draw me in, Blackout grabbed me before I was even sure what it was.

  • The main cast of Bravely Default 2

    Supporters only: One of my favourite JRPG series of the last decade is finally on PC and I'm over the moon

    Bravely Default still has the dumbest name, but the bestest best battle system

    Rejoice, JRPG fans. Bravely Default 2 has finally arrived on PC, and cor, you're in for a treat. Previously confined to Nintendo-only consoles, first on the 3DS and later the Switch, the Bravely series is simultaneously a love letter to the classics and - in my eyes, at least - one of the genre's best modern advocates. We've seen plenty of games try to reinterpret Final Fantasy's four heroes of light and elemental crystal schtick over the years, but Bravely Default is the one that really gets it, scratching that retro itch while also bringing something new to the table in the form of its fantastic risk and reward battle system, compelling job classes and absolute chefkiss.gif soundtrack (which also plays a surprisingly big role in combat, too). It's legit one of my favourite JRPG series to date, and I'm so pleased it's finally made its way to PC.

  • Crustaceans with swords battle in a Fight Crab screenshot.

    Greetings friends! It's time for September's new supporter only podcast! This spin-off of the normal Electronic Wireless Show features Matthew and Alice learning about something weird from Nate. And in fact, it's time for August and September's episodes of The Nate Files, because I clean forgot to put last month's episode live. I can't apologise enough, but hopefully two doses in a row will help. In two weeks you will be resistant to most strains of the podcast. As ever, the twist with this extra podcasts is that Nate is in charge, and these are some good 'uns.

  • The player reloads their rifle as they stand in front of an armoured soldier in Trepang 2.

    F.E.A.R. was good and I miss it. Not that it's gone, of course, just that it's one of those dormant series that probably won't come back. If it does? Most likely it'll be proper naff anyway, seeing as numbers two and three weren't exactly pushing things forwards. If anything, it veered from F.E.A.R. to A.C.T.I.O.N a little too heavily in its final days.

    The original F.E.A.R. had those clean lines, that slow-mo, and an exceptional use of grey. All of which were lost a bit with those follow-ups. But having dipped into the demo for FPS Trepang2, I've realised this might be the closest I can get to a true F.E.A.R. sequel.

  • Sam looks at Buddy Bot walking up to him on a grassy mountainside in Death Stranding Director's Cut

    Supporters only: Man, I'm so looking forward to The BB Boys becoming The BBBB Boys

    Buddy Bot's gonna be my new best friend in Death Stranding Director's Cut

    During Geoff's Gamescom MegaMix earlier this week, we got another extended peek at Death Stranding's upcoming Director's Cut, which adds loads of new features, modes, story missions and ways to transport your cargo to Kojima's esoteric postal hiking sim. Personally, I couldn't care less about the bum-warming jet pack or the mountain-scaling catapult. Instead, I'm ALL about Sam's Buddy Bot, and I 100% plan to use its strong, muscly robot calves to carry me all the way across America when I inevitably end up playing it all over again. Watch out, BB Boys. I think we might have a BBBB Boys road trip on our hands, too.

  • Image for Having slower internet makes me appreciate Xbox Game Pass more

    Xbox Game Pass is a cracking deal isn't it? You pay a tenner a month and you've got this ever-growing catalogue of games. Games everywhere! They're on your screen and in your eyes as fast as your internet's top speed can deliver them. But can you fully appreciate them with a lightning fast connection? For me at least, it's the total opposite. Now that my megabits have plummeted, Game Pass seems even sweeter a deal.

  • Image for I refuse to pick player characters in a sensible way and you can't make me

    I, like others, played the open beta of Diablo II: Resurrected at the weekend. It's Diablo II, but nicer! Although, this post isn't strictly about Diablo II, it's just it reminded me of an issue I run into when choosing classes in games, which is that I go off the Rule of Cool. If one character looks awesome (according to my own tastes, at least) I will usually pick that character, regardless of how that character plays or whether I will be good at it.

  • A screenshot from G String showing the torso of a masculine, bald android, mounted on a wall. It is asking the protagonist to take it with them.

    Old school shooters are still in vogue and that's basically a good thing. But I wonder where it'll lead.

    G String might offer a clue. As well as having possibly the worst name in history, it's a strange sort of throwback to the early/mid 2000s, an era you might, if you had to say these things for a living, call "middle school". I'm surprised at how refreshing I found that.

  • A pixel art scene showing two radio hosts - Yoshiro Kimura and Yamaguchi Quest - talking, while game characters cheer them on outside

    For me, Little King's Story and Dandy Dungeon dev Yoshiro Kimura is one of the great national treasures of the Japanese gaming industry. He's worked at Square Enix, Grasshopper Manufacture, and in the last few years he's set up his own independent studio Onion Games, making quirky, oddball adventures that I love very much. He may not have achieved the same kind of mega fame as your Shigeru Miyamotos, Hideo Kojimas or Tetsuya Nomuras, but his games have always managed to make me laugh and smile whenever I've played them.

    Recently, he started a YouTube series on the history and theory of RPGs, and last month Onion Games started putting English subtitles on some of its earliest episodes. They're a great watch, and I'd highly recommend making some time for them over the weekend if you're a fan of the genre.

  • Holly in Back 4 Blood

    Alright look. I know some of you don't want to believe this, but it turns out a bunch of people enjoyed the Back 4 Blood beta, and I was one of them. It is conceivable that I'm going to play it and write about it multiple times when it comes out. Sorry not sorry. Was the free open beta perfect? No, it was not. I feel for the people who had trouble getting online, or got disconnected. It seems that was most prevalent for console players, and therefore beyond my sight. But I sort of feel the clue is in the name: it was free, it was a beta, it was stress testing a game that still has a coupla months of tweaking to go (although arguably, it might have been better to wait to splash about that the game had gone gold until after the beta...).

    A bunch of the problems raised are known issues, as noted in a Q&A with our pals at VG247. I was blessed by not running into any problems at any point. Most importantly, I saw no issues affecting the deep and abiding love I have for my new Cleaner character-of-choice Holly. Sorry, this website will be posting Holly on main soon.

  • Image for OCO is rapidly filling the Holedown-shaped void in my life

    Mobile puzzle hit OCO arrived on PC yesterday, and let me tell you, it is hypnotic. As you guide a small square around rotating, circular stages, the aim is to collect all the other little squares in the stage in as few mouse clicks and quickest time possible. Its procedurally generated soundtrack reacts to every move you make, and the bright, minimalist visuals are absolutely mesmerizing as they go round and round and round and round... It's a great game to groove and zone out with, and I think I can confidently say that it is absolutely filling the Holedown-shaped hole in my life right now.

  • The forklift in Forklift Load making a jump, in front of a panoramic view of a city nestled in a valley

    I can't believe I didn't give up on Forklift Load immediately. Its opening tutorial is exactly the kind of skill cliff I've rejected a hundred games for in the past. You control a little forklift truck, and are asked to do forklifty things. Lifting. Moving. Uh... forking. But the first thing you're asked is one of the fiddliest things in the game, as you have to slide your prongs inside a pallet at exactly the right position to lift it from another forklift, which of course means you'll spend ten minutes bashing prongs (pronggg) together at the last second and deliberately dropping the barrels in the hope that they explode.

    They do not. But they do flip out now and then, and you have to start the whole job again. I should hate this. Why don't I hate this?

  • Image for Let's take a moment to enjoy the post-it notes and graffiti in Back 4 Blood

    I spent some time this weekend wallowing happily in Back 4 Blood, the co-op zombie smasher positioned as a "spiritual successor" to Left 4 Dead. Had a great time; got covered in blood. Genuinely, I favour melee quite a lot, and one of the people I played with kept saying "You are covered in so much blood!" in a tone I took to be one of admiration.

    Back 4 Blood does have a whole rich story (including that the Ridden are technically mutants and not zombies, but potayto, potarto. There's also some lovely set dressing, particularly in safe houses. One is a flat that has a calendar with a picture of a snapping turtle. Ed really liked that. My favourite bits, though, are the graffiti and post-it notes.

  • Two birds sit on a bench in a forest scene in Haven Park

    As someone who both adores Adam Robinson-Yu's wholesome adventure game A Short Hike and has spent many hundreds of hours playing Animal Crossing over the years, Fabien Weibel's new camping indie game Haven Park seems like the perfect cross-section of my personal gaming tastes. It's set on a colourful island paradise-cum-outdoors adventure park, much like A Short Hike, and your task is to make this place a nice, cosy hangout for prospective campers, building and crafting new facilities to fulfil their needs, which is very much in the same vein as Nintendo's animal life sim. And having played a bit of the game so far, I am happy to report that this really is the perfect cross-section of my personal gaming tastes, and I will likely be losing the entire weekend to it as I continue my little adventure.

  • A screenshot from Imagine Earth showing the planet surface, focussed on a forested area

    Managing the climate is usually an afterthought in colony building games, if it's included at all. It tends to be a non-issue until the game’s basically over, and its effects are usually underwhelming.

    Imagine Earth isn't entirely about the environment. And it needn’t be, given that you're working for a business colonising one of countless worlds. Who cares if you destroy a planet when you can easily skip over to another one? You can do that. You can be pretty rapacious. But I find it more fun to be the oceanic aliens, because they start out with lots of seabase technology, so when your rivals accidentally melt the ice caps you can mostly just laugh at them.

  • A sea of repeating RPS logos.

    Hello folks. It's me, your brand spanking new editor-in-chief, writing my very first Letter From The Editor. When we relaunched our RPS Supporter Program at the end of June, this monthly peek behind the RPS curtain was one of the fancy new perks you'd get as a lovely subscriber - although back when we were first thinking about the relaunch, Graham was still in charge and I was but a lowly hardware editor who didn't even the faintest inkling that one day I'd be the person kicking this whole thing off. Funny how things work out, isn't it?

    But here we are, a month into me putting on the big RPS boss shoes every day, and nothing's on fire yet. I'm calling that a win, and hopefully you agree too.