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  • Peppino pulls a silly little face in Pizza Tower

    You know what’s guaranteed to make me laugh every single time? A good visual gag in a cartoon. A little freak reading a newspaper, for instance. A hyper-realistic close-up of a character’s face. A weird rat, perhaps. Maybe it’s smoking a cigarette? Whimsical. I love it. This is the main reason why I keep returning to Pizza Tower, a 2D platformer by Tour De Pizza that released on Steam yesterday. It’s a bizarre homage to Nintendo’s lesser-known Wario Land series (specifically its fourth entry) that's jam-packed with goofy little drawings that make me laugh. It’s good, but not without its issues.

  • A ship fires a large laser beam in space in front of a brown planet in Power Of Ten

    Ooh, I'm glad this made it to a full release. Power of Ten has rattled around my PC since ... I want to say "a year ago", but that could turn out to be any time in the last three years if I actually check. It didn't quite push me over the "Article Threshold" back then, but having given it a proper go now it's out of early access, it's time.

    You're a little spaceship, with a simple but intriguing backstory, who's appeared near an inhabited planet. A transmission asks you to repair their defensive shield before "the Deadeye" arrives to genocide them, which, uh, okay I think I know whose side I'm on here, game.

  • Hebridean scenes in a Dear Esther screenshot.

    Over the past couple of days, Book Twitter (and actually regular Twitter, because it's such a catastrophically mockable opinion to have in public) have been making much fun of this dude, who essentially pitched that AI could disrupt books. Another guy enthusiastically replied that you could add Metaverse features so you could "live the book". Don't bother adding to the pile on, because there are no more jokes to make. They have been deluged by people pointing out that TV, films and video games all aready exist.

    This made me think about, firstly, that we'd be much better off as a society if techbro web3 enthusiasts were all siloed into one giant Truman Show-esque hamster ball where they can all scurry about together thinking they're achieving things. But secondly, that some people really put a lot of store on interactivity. Including me! Graham was the one who sent me those tweets, and he said he wouldn't want to live in any of the books he's been reading, because everyone in them is sad or angry for the whole book, until almost the end. I said I wouldn't want to be in them because you'd only end up being a side character, and that's boring.

  • A 2D drawn image of a male shopkeeper, in Elizabethan-ish clothes with a golden doublet with slashed puffy sleeves, holding a quill, from a shop screen in Sailing era

    Despite the name, Sailing Era isn't one of the sailing sims that have popped up recently. It's a little hard to describe, but let's see how we get on.

    You steer your wee boat around a grounded anime age-of-sail Earth, looking for shipwrecks and treasures, fighting pirates (and possibly being one, although fairly peripherally),exploring, trading, and doing the usual Elite-style open world thing. I'll be honest: I don't exactly love this one, and it's spread a little thin. But I've played it for hours longer than I expected and enjoyed it more as it went on. It's doing a lot, in its own slightly roundabout way.

  • The main characters from the Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney Trilogy (l-r): Phoenix Wright, Godot, Mia Fey, Maya Fey, Miles Edgeworth, Pearl Fey, and Franziska von Karma.

    This past weekend, I ended an 18-month-long love affair. I managed to drag the experience out for all it was worth, but in the end, there was nothing to do but let go, and complete the fifth and final game in the Ace Attorney Turnabout Collection. And, oh, my heart, the post-game blues are real!

    I was extremely late to the party when it comes to Capcom's long-running series of legal dramedy visual novels, which debuted all the way back in 2001. But I found my way here in the end, largely thanks to the aforementioned collection, which packages prettied-up versions of the original Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney Trilogy and its prequel duology The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles onto modern systems.

  • A splash of Pokémon Quest, which shows a bunch of blocky Pokémon chilling in a colourful campsite.

    I've been holding something in for 5 years. It first started as a deep joy, like a ray of sunshine in the palm of my hand. Then it became a deep sense of longing for something I'd lost, like a cascade of sand that fell from my palm as I wept gently on an empty beach. The "it" is a mobile and Nintendo Switch game called Pokémon Quest (don't laugh), which was the first - and only - mobile game I've actively obsessed over.

    The game's an auto-battler where you gather a small trio from the original 150 Pokéfolks, level them up, and then tackle trickier and trickier stages. After a frankly disgusting number of hours, I'd finished all the stages. So, I thought, "Yes, of course they will add the 2nd generation of Pokéfolks with a bunch of new stages. This is its natural evolution, if you will". It still hasn't happened and probably never will. And I hate that I can't find anything else that'll replace it.

  • Ellie and Joel take a drive in the Last Of Us.

    We had a discussion in our Monday meeting that got louder than things normally do, because The Last Of Us TV show came up, and we found ourselves divided into two camps. Well, three. Camp one was excited for the TV show and camp two posited that there's no point making an adaptation of something if your adaptation is just the same thing. (The third camp was "eh, I might check it out" and watched the other two camps duking it out). I was in camp two. If you're adapting something, adapt! Make changes! Otherwise I might as well just consume the original thing again! The Last Of Us has already been released, what, three times?

    This was made funnier by the fact that nobody on staff had seen the TV show, so we were just arguing about tweets we'd seen that describe the show, the worst way to conduct a discussion outside of e.g. scrawling insults on the side of Teslas and self-driving them into each other's front doors. But it got me to thinking about adaptations, because there have been loads of adaptations of things that aren't games into video games. What goes wrong in the other direction?

  • A character in platforming game Kandria, Sahil, opines that people can be jerks, and used to be jerks before the apocalypse too

    What makes a good platformer? Christ, I don't know. Why would you open an article with that. Calling Kandria a platformer feels a little reductive, so there's a need to clarify why it works. You play as an android revived several decades after an apocalypse, by a tiny camp of survivors who inevitably need your help. A lot of this help involves, well, platforming. To the point of having nonsensical areas of pure platforming in between you and a destination or secret area. You'll climb, jump, do the little dash thing that recharges when you touch the ground or pick up a hovering lamp thingy. You'll land on a lot of thorny instakill spikes.

    So yeh, lots of the old platforming, but it feels more like an exploration and scavenging game, with a side order of light-light-heavy-dodge combat too. And a plot with varied dialogue options and mysteries about the world and its history. It's immediately and consistently fun, but I'm not sure exactly how to recommend it. Hmm.

  • The Moral Compass screen in Broken Roads.

    Supporters only: I will play Broken Roads purely for its brilliant Moral Compass

    I've no idea if it'll work in practice, but I'm absolutely going to find out

    Writing up our big guide on all the upcoming PC games of 2023, I was introduced to a number of smaller games in development I hadn't heard about before. One of them was Broken Roads, an isometric RPG set in a post-apocalypse Australia. The gorgeous artwork was enough for me to click on the Steam page and read more, and while scrolling through the screenshots something strange caught my eye.

    It was a screenshot of a fairly traditional RPG dialogue scene, with a panel at the bottom displaying all the possible dialogue options for the player. But what caught my eye was an unusual radial graphic on the right-hand side of the options. Reading on, I discovered that Broken Roads uses a rather unique Moral Compass, one which plots your overall moral stance towards the world and its people with a golden arc. Different decisions may rotate the arc, expand it, contract it, lengthen it, or shorten it. And in so doing, you'll unlock various traits dotted about the Compass, which only remain in effect for as long as that golden arc covers those traits within the wheel.

    I can see a dozen different ways in which this Moral Compass may end up being a bad idea in practice. But I don't care. I adore it. And I'm going to play Broken Roads solely so I can see the consequences of my actions in satisfying radial form.

  • A screenshot from retro-style FPS Chop Goblins, which shows the player pointing a flintlock pistol at an ancient Greek structure.

    I've completed my first play through of Chop Goblins, a "microshooter" from Dusk and Gloomwood developer David Szymanski. All in all, it took me just under an hour to choppa' da goblins and I'm all up for more of the same, to be honest. I liked time-travelling between Dracula's abode and ancient greece, chopping a variety of killer goblins that squawked, "NICE TO MEET YOU!", in varying octaves.

    While another FPS of the "micro" variety would be grand, I'd love a "microracer". Much in the same vein as my beloved Screamer, I'm desperate for a – linear or otherwise – arcade racer whose only concern is to burn rubber through all manner of world stages.

  • Powerwashing a powerwashing company van in a PowerWash Simulator screenshot.

    Supporters only: Why did no one tell me PowerWash Sim has actual lore

    Come for the cleaning, stay for the storytelling

    Last week I talked about how I spent my week off at Christmas playing PowerWash Simulator like it was my job. When I wrote that, I was about two thirds of the way through the story in Career mode, which turns out to be just before PowerWash Simulator goes as bananas as everyone's home baking in the summer of 2020. I can't believe I need to say this but: this article contains spoilers for the PowerWash Sim story.

  • The player character in Asterigos, a red headed, green eyed elfin sort of a person

    I'll try not to bang on about it, but in the interests of transparency, it's important to stress how much I loathe most soulslikes. Even the name, to be frank. So when I say that I don't love Asterigos Colon Curse of the Stars, it's not as damning as it may sound.

    You're Hilda, a stabby lass who, for reasons, must investigate and lift a curse from a big ol' fantasy city. By exploring its districts and stabbing lots of weird dudes. Aiding you is a network of semi-suspicious locals, and the kind of immortality that makes death more annoying than anything. It's a hybrid, really, of a Souls-ish game and a more traditional hack and slash action RPG. Regular attacks don't consume stamina, and instead of finding or buying weapons, you start out with a complete set, and swap their movesets in and out as needed. I respect that it picks and chooses soulsy elements instead of tracing over the whole design.

  • Vantage uses her eyepiece to look off into the distance in Apex Legends.

    The only game I played over Christmas was a touch of Apex Legends with some pals, but otherwise, all I did was watch an eclectic mix of anime and TV: Mob Psycho 100, Better Call Saul, and Somebody Feed Phil. Granted, my gaming tastes wax and wane over a year, with lengthy JRPG stints rolling inevitably into junk food like Assassin's Creed Valhalla. No matter what, my one constant is an FPS or 'competitive' game, I suppose. Games like Apex, or Warzone, or even Fortnite.

    And yet, for whatever reason, I don't consider them as candidates for the Bestest Best games of any year. I might pour hundreds, possibly thousands of hours into them and they won't even make it into my personal list of absolute faves. That's reserved for games, not games.

  • Cleaning a giant statue of a fish-man in PowerWash Simulator

    I had great plans for the games I was going to play over the Christmas break. Elden Ring! Tunic! Our game of the year Vampire Survivors! And I did try to play some of them, for a bit. Elden Ring and Tunic were both too hard for my state of mind, which was as robust as pink candyfloss. Even Vampire Survivors wigged me out because it's so visually busy by the end game, and I was in a more "Ferrero Rocher and jigsaw of the London Underground map" sort of place. My downfall was seeing PowerWash Simulator on sale on Steam. I bought it, and then played it for 40 hours.

  • Slices of screenshots from Chained Echoes, Kaiju Wars, Goodbye World and RPG Time: The Legend Of Wright

    It's a well known fact that there are "Too Many Games"(TM) these days. I have not done the maths, but I've seen enough graphs, tweets and analysis from people who have crunched the numbers to know there are more games coming out on Steam every day than a site like RPS could ever possibly hope to cover a single month, let alone every week. But gosh darn it if we don't try our hardest all the same.

    Inevitably, though, time does get the better of us sometimes (or, in my case at least, maybe my eyes are just too big for my gaming stomach), and certain games end up slipping further and further down our to-do lists until they eventually fall away entirely. Not through any fault of their own, mind. Just... time. But as a final parting shoutout for 2022, I wanted to memorialise all the games that fell of my personal to-do list this year and say, "I'M SORRY, I DIDN'T MEAN IT, I PROMISE!" (For real, though, I still want to talk about all of these at some point. Maybe January...? Please don't hate me)

  • A Rush Rally 3 screenshot of blue rally car on a yellow dirt road, driving towards the camera and kicking up dust behind it

    Serious racing games are not, as a rule, my thing. If the goal is to repeat a course 20 times to trim 0.2 seconds off a number, and not to cackle like a petty chaos gremlin as you slam someone off the track at a tight corner, I am probably not going to enjoy myself much.

    Rush Rally 3 isn't all that serious, but it's still on the wrong side of the tracks for me, I thought, before accidentally playing it for 3 hours. This is an excellent bundle of rally trials, challenges, and simple circuit racing with a cheerfully mid-2000s feel. I might prefer the messy nonsense of Trail Out, but if you value actual driving skill more highly, this is well worth your time.

  • A humanoid trapped in an egg -shaped rock over its back, being pushed on a pram-like chair on rails in Scorn

    Can you hear that gentle rapping, tapping at your chamber door? 'Tis some visitor tapping at your chamber door - only this, and nothing more!

    No it isn't. It's the Nate Files bonus podcast, funded by our supporters supporters, and we have an egg for you. Quoth the egg "Yolk!"

  • Zack and Aerith stare into each other's eyes in Crisis Core - Final Fantasy VII - Reunion

    As has seemingly become a yearly tradition in my gaming calendar, I have ended up finishing 2022 in much the same way I finished 2021: reviewing yet another Final Fantasy VII game. Last year, it was the PC release of Final Fantasy VII Remake, this year it's Crisis Core - Final Fantasy VII - Reunion, a remaster of the original game's PSP prequel. As such, I've been thinking a lot about Final Fantasy VII these last few weeks, and playing them so close together has ended up highlighting one key thing for me. Namely, that story chapters that break up the action by giving players some 'downtime' to 'hang' with your party pals, either by doing side or fetch quests for them MUST DIE.

    Drop a meteor on them or let them go the way of Aerith and be skewered into oblivion, Final Fantasy VII Rebirth, because please, Square Enix, I simply cannot with the interminable sidequest chapters any more.

  • The protagonist and two of her family members facing down a big sea monster in Wavetale

    It's not all that easy for an action platformer to stand out, even if it does a lot of things right. I'll talk a bit about how Wavetale does it, but the first one is obvious within a few minutes, because if you're anything like me you'll be ignoring the danger your family is in to slide around with your newfound powers going "wheeee!".

    Very quickly, you see, you gain the ability to not just walk on water, but run up a little and you'll start power sliding freely around. Hold the jump button and you even charge up a big boosted power charge. Jump off the land and press sprint and you'll dive, briefly powering through the water before smashing out again. It is delightful.

  • Roze in black tactical gear carefully squints through her rifle ironsights in Call Of Duty: Modern Warfare 2.

    It's quite sad that one of The Geoff Awards 2022 announcements I'm most excited about likely targeted me and no-one else. And that's because it 1) was a reminder, not an announcement; 2) was something to do with Call Of Duty; 3) didn't show off a great deal. Yep, it was the reminder that Call Of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 is getting its first raid very soon.

    BUT, I'd argue that it should - even just a teeny weeny bit – be of interest to you. Finally, a raid is coming to a game that isn't a life investment, and that's rad.

  • A screenshot from Space Wreck showing a tutorial demonstrating that you can kick people out of airlocks

    The impact of the 2D Fallouts still reverberates, and the latest result of that is Space Wreck, an isometric RPG with a huge emphasis on screwing up.

    Okay, maybe that's just my bad decisions talking. You're stranded on a wrecked space station after a failed pirate attack, and must get back to your ship. It's not super secret, but I almost don't want to say more than that, because this is a game overflowing with possibilities in a way that even Fallout seldom matched. It is not quite ready, but if the bugs can be ironed out, and perhaps more crucially, the save system reorganised, this could easily become one of the best RPGs of its kind.

  • Noah and Mio stand back to back and prepare for battle in Xenoblade Chronicles 3.

    Xenoblade Chronicles 3 is easily one of the best games I've played this year. Alas, I couldn't vote for its rightful spot in the RPS Advent calendar because it's only on Nintendo Switch, and would out me as somehow who quite enjoys the way anime south Londoners replace rude words with "sparking" or "snuffing". Still, I will write about the game here! Sorry supporters.

    Anyway, what I want to talk about is Xenoblade 3 – so far, at least – never losing sight of its inner tutorial. I've been hit with new, sometimes dizzying tutorials, tens of hours into the game's story. Rather than being bummed out by this, I'm ecstatic. In fact, I'd argue it's what makes the experience so special.

  • Jacob comes face to face with a biophage covered in boils in The Callisto Protocol.

    As I write this I'm installing the PC patch for The Callisto Protocol, which will hopefully fix the stuttering that I experienced (that everyone on PC experienced, judging by the steam reviews). I will report back. But there's another issue that I was still working out my feelings about when I wrote the review, and is a complext thing to explain. It is this:

    The Callisto Protocol wants you to learn and experiment with its systems, but it strongly disincentivises this at the same time.

  • A little 9 by 9 grid battle in Immortal Tactics

    My keyboard is broken, so this has been a fun week of workarounds that sort of work but not quite enough to play most things. That'll teach me to spend more than the £5 one that lasted for a decade I guess.

    Fortunately, a few of the little turn based tactics games I'd had on the backburner for a while was Immortal Tactics Colon War of the Eternals, an excellent little fantasy combat game set on miniature hex grids. On paper, it's a stock fantasy game with a himbo, edgelord, and nerd fighting to kill monsters and unlock new characters. But what does paper know?

  • An Orc shaman stands next to a glowing green totem in the centre of Orgrimmar in World Of Warcraft: Classic.

    Supporters only: World Of Warcraft's past magic lies buried in YouTube comments

    "These stories of people logging off forever in some place they love, with their friends or alone, ALWAYS make me emotional"

    I'd argue that Azeroth's unending expansion has taken the shine off a world that used to positively sparkle. Still, no matter what I think about World Of Warcraft today, it still holds a special place in my heart as an important formative experience.

    Even the time capsule that's Classic WoW probably couldn't capture the same buzz of the past, mainly because I, as a being of flesh and bone, am not a teenager anymore. But I'd argue there's one place that still captures the essence of WoW more than WoW itself nowadays: YouTube. Or to be more specific, channels which provide hour-long music and ambience from some of the game's most memorable zones.

  • An image from the cover art of Clementine: Book One, which shows Clementine as a teenager in a snowy landscape, with a version of her younger self appearing behind her in the clouds.

    A conversation in the RPS Treehouse the other day reminded me that there is only one game I have ever completed for the first time and then finished again, all within the span of a week. That game was The Walking Dead: The Final Season.

    Having played all three previous seasons of Telltale's choose-your-own-zombie-apocalypse tearjerker (plus the 400 Days DLC and the Michonne spin-off), it's no surprise that I was incredibly invested in Clementine's story by The Final Season. I'm not a big kid person, typically, but you'd have to be beyond heartless not to love little Clem, wouldn't you? Even though, by the time TFS rolls around, she's grown into medium-sized Clem, and is a bit bloody scary to boot.

  • A screenshot of a young white woman with blonde hair and orangey-red leggings, sprawling in an armchair, from the game Nancy Drew: Midnight In Salem

    Supporters only: I've spent two weeks trying to download a 3-year-old Nancy Drew game


    For what has felt like my entire life (but was probably only the months of October and November) every ad I was served on YouTube was for a sale on Her Interactive's Nancy Drew games. I remember it not only because the content is burned into my brain, but because they themed it around getting involved in cosplay, and got a bunch of cosplayers - and no disprespect to them, because they did a great job - to dress as characters from the games. And I kept thinking, like... what? Apart from Ms Drew, what characters are worth cosplaying from a series of licensed Nancy Drew puzzle games?

    Anyway it clearly didn't matter, because I saw the ads so often that I went and bought the most recent one out of curiosity. You win, Her Interactive! Midnight In Salem is a spooky mystery wherein Nancy Drew must solve an arson case (with the Hardy Boys in tow, no less) that has possible occult tie ins. It came out in 2019, and is Nancy Drew #33. 33 Nancy Drew games! Imagine. Also, I cannot download it and I have spent over two weeks trying.

  • A little green spaceship accelerates into a pink space void. In front of it a title reads 'LILITH ODYSSEY; Welcome To The Mugalo Galaxy'

    Survival games! Oh, the many disparaging remarks I could make if only I had time in between punching rocks and eating an entire deer. It's not often that I recommend one here, and jokes aside, it'd be unfair and untrue to say it's because there aren't enough good ones. It's more that I don't have much room for new ones.

    Lilith Odyssey is, if we must, a survival game and a roguelike (oh, the many dispara-[yeah alright, alright. Jesus. - ed.]), but that is reductive. This is a strange and somewhat contradictory game I feel uneasy comparing directly to anything, except possibly the wonderful Taxinaut (which is now on Steam, incidentally). Lilith Odyssey is very much what I'd call a vibes-based game.

  • A medieval manuscript from Pentiment

    You'll have heard by now that Pentiment is bloody good. It's a medieval murder mystery with monks and manuscripts and other m things - including the protagonist, who is an artist called Andreas Maler. It's inspired by The Name Of The Rose, a murder mystery similarly focused on a medieval scriptorium in a monastary (and notable for being adapted into a film where Sean Connery is a detective monk aided by a tiny baby Christian Slater).

    In the ol' days books, were copied by monks onto parchment made of animal skin. Most people weren't educated enough to read, in case poor people got radical ideas like maybe they should get some rights, and controlling the flow and spread of information was one of the things that made the church as powerful as it was. Pentiment takes place just as printing presses are becoming popular, which makes access to knowledge more readily available. Part of how the game conveys this is through the dialogue - not the stuff people are saying, although that helps, but what their speech bubbles looks like when they talk. You've probably already heard this, but I want to show you in a bit more detail.

  • Pokemon Scarlet and Violet image showing three Wiglett along the coast of a sunny beach.

    I’ve been playing Pokémon Violet over the past few days, and fortunately I haven’t suffered many of the glaring tech issues that have gone viral since launch. There are fairly frequent frame drops and a few camera glitches, but nothing that’s ruined my experience just yet. What has caught my eye, though, is simply how small some of the Pokémon are in Paldea. They’re tiny little things, and the onslaught of oddly small critters reminds me that sometimes, size really does matter.