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  • Image for I wish Ian Hitman could skip

    Supporters only: I wish Ian Hitman could skip

    Maybe one to note down for the next update

    I've been all over the world this year, despite everything that's going on. And by "all over the world this year", I mean I've virtually creased the tips of my Oxfords as Ian "Agent 47" Hitman. I committed a murder in a Hokkaido hospital and another murder in Mumbai - the one in Mumbai being a particularly good murder, I feel.

    One thing I've been hankering for on my travels is the ability to skip. Not like, skip cutscenes, but swing my arms to and fro as I clippety clop towards my next target.

  • Image for Help, I can't stop murdering creeps in Grindstone

    I had great plans to play LOADS of games over Christmas. It was going to be a time of button-mashing, backlog clearing and more. But then Capybara Games' brilliant puzzle-battler Grindstone came out on Switch and everything went to pot.

  • Image for The best bits I cleared from my gaming backlog this Christmas

    In between eating liquor-filled chocolates shaped like wine bottles and watching Shrek The Halls, I spent time clearing my game backlog over Christmas. Over 2020 I’d struggled to play anything other than Warzone and Yakuza (Nate’s piece covers this feeling of being stuck really nicely), so I thought I’d tick off other games to break out of my comfort zone and feel something other than “nice shot” and “get him dad”.

  • Image for Call Of The Sea subverts your Lovecraftian expectations

    Supporters only: Call Of The Sea subverts your Lovecraftian expectations

    Please, call me Fishperson, MR. Fishperson was my father

    I positioned my holiday at the end of the year such that I got two full weeks off, and I intended to spend loads of that time playing video games, and then I accidentally didn't. For most of the break I spent my time eating a lot of food (as is traditional) and reading books. Several of these books were terrible because I received my loot-box-but-of-books subscription. It contained a book about an out of work Broadway musical actor going undercover in a prison which, despite being described as a thriller, seemed to mostly be about the acquisition of packs of sardines to use as currency in a poker game.

    In the end I played exactly two games over the break. One was Jackbox (or, technically, the free seasonal Jackbox DLC - "Streaming Jackbox With 6 Other People Who Need To Sign Up To Discord") and the other was Call Of The Sea.

  • Image for I want to live in Necrobarista's bookshop café

    If there's one thing I'm thankful for this year, it's cosy games (and books and TV shows) about sweet-looking cafés. I started 2020 by playing Coffee Talk, a wonderfully chill visual novel with an incredible soundtrack about being a late-night barista, and I've steadily been working my way through Midnight Diner on Netflix over the last few months as well (the Japanese TV show that Coffee Talk draws a lot of inspiration from). Two of my favourite books this year have been about a time-travelling café, too, where you can revisit a point in your past and future by drinking a special cup of coffee.

    They've all been great settings to hunker down in with a nice hot cuppa in an otherwise turd of a year, but the fictional café I've loved best in 2020 is hands down the enormous Terminal in Route 59's ultra-stylish Necrobarista. It might function as a kind of temporary purgatory for lost souls in the game, but for me, it's my idea of absolute heaven.

  • Image for It's nearly 2021 and Tales From The Borderlands still has the best opening credits of any game

    It's wild how Tales From The Borderlands is still both the best Telltale game and the best Borderlands game, isn't it? And that's despite a brand new mainline Borderlands game coming out in the interval, too. In recent years, it's become fashionable for some of my pals here in the UK to do some version of Thanksgiving. You know, the ultra cool London Brits who pretend they're really into American football. So let me say this very belatedly: if you were at all involved in Tales From The Borderlands, I am sincerely thankful for you.

  • Image for An ode to Doom Eternal's meat hook

    Supporters only: An ode to Doom Eternal's meat hook

    Shall I compare thee to a serrated blade?

    I remember being vaguely horrified when I first heard about Doom Eternal's meat hook. It's one of the new features id Software added to the series' classic Super Shotgun (aka, the best video game weapon of all time), and as its name might imply, you can use it to grapple toward enemies in order to get up close and personal with their soon to be squelched demon flesh. At the time, I thought, "But how can you improve on the already perfect Super Shotgun?" A lot, it turns out. Let me count the ways.

  • Image for After all these years, I may finally finish The Witcher 3

    I remember I bounced off The Witcher 3 when I first played it in 2015. There I was, Geralt T. Witcher, rocking up to the quaint town of White Orchard like, “I am here to save the day! No need to be strong, for I am here now friends”, before glancing at my map and promptly logging off. Nah, not for me this. All these map markers? Yeah, just a bit much mate.

    But ha, now look at me! Curled in my chair like a shrimp and about to finish The Witcher 3 after five long years. It has taken a monumental effort, but I can finally tick off the game everyone bangs on about and move onto the next game that everyone has already started banging on about, Cyberpunk 2077.

  • Image for Allow me to gatekeep you with my video game tattoo

    Supporters only: Allow me to gatekeep you with my video game tattoo

    Oh you DON'T have any game tattoos? That's cool I guess

    Not to jerk the curtain too much, but every so often a Twitter account with an avatar doing an ahegao face will respond to the official RPS account opining that games journalists all hate video games anyway. This always makes me laugh because, like, what else am in this for? The money? The chicks? The positive comments? But it does actually make a kind of sense, if you consider that when I worked in pensions it wasn't because I loved pensions. I didn't do pensions calculations in my spare time, and have a t-shirt of my favourite fund. But I swear, your honour, I really love games. Just ask my back.

  • Image for Please help me to understand these Christmas jumpers

    This isn't an advertorial post but I know up front it's going to sound like one. See, the season of Christmas jumpers is upon us. When I worked in admin, there was a guy in our office whose entire personality was basically that he wore a Die Hard Christmas jumper on the office Christmas jumper day (I worked in an office that had a designated day for Christmas jumpers).

  • Image for Say hello to my favourite lads in Yakuza: LAD

    Yeah, sorry, I’m back again writing about Yakuza: Like A Dragon, or Yakuza: LAD as it’s otherwise known. An alter-ego that probably likes sinking a few tinnies on the front porch, wahey. Loves the football. Actually no, more like loves the baseball, because it’s the biggest sport out in Japan.

    Anyway, early into Yakuza: LAD you bump into a professor who gives you a Sujidex that logs all the weird human beings you encounter on the streets of Yokohama. I think of it as this cursed Pokedex containing a mishmash of flesh and bone. And let me tell you, there are some real maniacs roaming out there in the wild.

  • Image for Please don't Ready Player Two, you deserve more

    Supporters only: Please don't Ready Player Two, you deserve more

    You're smart and funny and you don't need him

    If there's one thing you should know about me, reader, it's that I'm very petty and I hate Ready Player One. Two things you should know about me. In fairness, we have talked about this fairly recently. We're going to talk about it again, though, because Reader Player Two is out today, and I need you to read other books instead.

    (At this stage in my relationship to Ready Player One/Two, my friends are holding me back outside a pub at 2am yelling "Leave it Alice, it's not worth it!")

  • Image for Just look at these gorgeous Half-Life CD ROMs

    Ah, the days of CD-ROMS... They were good, weren't they? My PC hasn't had a CD-ROM drive for several years now, but as a staunch lover of physical media, I just can't bring myself to chuck them out. Instead, most of the ones I still own have been buried deep in the recesses of the bags, boxes and drawers of my home office somewhere, rarely seeing the light of day and, in all honesty, might as well be in the bin for all the good they're currently doing.

    But a couple of weeks ago, I was searching for a USB cable. Not any USB cable, I might add. The super long one I used for my Oculus Quest. I needed it to test the Oculus Quest 2, you see, but I couldn't for the life of my remember where I'd stashed it. I ended up turning my entire office upside down to look for it. Turns out it was in the spare room with all my other bits of tech (go figure), but the upshot was I found these glorious Half-Life beauties that my brothers used to own.

  • Image for I once again invite you to join me on team Mass Effect: Andromeda Was Good

    This weekend for N7 day, it was revealed that not only are we getting a remaster of the original Mass Effect Trilogy, but also a brand new Mass Effect game! We should take a moment here to acknowledge that Imogen is apparently able to will news into existence. Send her your requests for sequel announcements.

    Imogen has also already analysed the images to build a compelling argument that this will be set after Mass Effect: Andromeda, fourth and most maligned entry in the series. It makes sense: bring out a remaster of the ones everyone loved to cleanse the memory of Andromeda, the one a lot of people hated. That being said, I would also like to remind you all at this early juncture that Andromeda wasn't even that bad.

  • Image for The BB Boys Road Trip: Part X

    This is it. We're finally at the end of our Death Stranding road trip. It's been a wild ride hanging out with the BB Boys these past few weeks, and oh, the sights we've seen together. We've biffed a load of tar monsters, peed off mountain tops, gazed at the beauty of nature, built an entire motorway system and delivered so, so many packages. We also made lots of strange and wonderful friends, and (I think) we've even travelled through time at the behest of that chap who looks extraordinarily like that actor Mads Mikklesen. It's been an incredible journey, and one I won't forget in a hurry.

    As that old saying goes, though, all good things must come to an end, so come and join us for this final leg of our BB Boys road trip. We have a real whale of a time in the last instalment of this now ten-part photo series - and I do mean that quite literally. Whales (and spoilers) abound as we head toward the finish line here, so please do proceed at your own risk. Bye bye, BB Boys!

  • Image for Little Hope spoiler chat: I have some questions

    Alright so I played and finished Little Hope this weekend. I did a spoiler-free review of it, if you are interested. But I would very much like to discuss a lot of very spoiler-heavy things, which is what this post is going to be.

    See, like the other interactive horror stories Supermassive have made, Little Hope has a twist. And the twist left me with a few, very specific questions. I am going to discuss those questions in this supporter post, but that means you should only venture past the cut if you either do not care about spoilers, or have already played the game and can help me tease through them.

  • Image for The BB Boys Road Trip: Part IX

    After biffing countless MULEs, climbing goodness knows how many mountains and delivering literally thousands of packages, we're finally nearing the end of our Death Stranding BB Boys Road Trip. Sam and BB made it to the edge of the America last week, rounding out Part VIII of their road trip by doing a big dive bomb into the sea. Now, it's time to get our srs bsns faces on and go in to rescue Amelie from those nasty boys holding her prisoner in Edge Knot City.

    So join us for this penultimate episode of our BB Boys Road Trip, where we do lots of fights, get real mucky and our friend Fragile hands us an honest to goodness real life metaphor. I'm not kidding. Naturally, we're in big spoiler territory now (and I mean really big spoilers - like, they're actually enormous), so please do proceed at your own risk. Onwards!

  • Image for This Paradise Killer name generator is the only good name generator

    As we all know, hyper-unreal murder mystery Paradise Killer is well good and in many ways I wish we could all disappear into it (but obviously only if we are one of the sexy main characters and not one of the normal people they steal to be menial workers and then slaughter like cattle when they want to level up their island).

    The characters in Paradise Killer all have superb and cool names. Your player character detective is called Lady Love Dies, for example. There's Carmelina Silence. Doom Jazz, the doctor who lives on a speedboat. Sam Day Break the skeleton bartender. They're the sort of names I could never come up with myself. But now I don't have to, because writer/editor/photographer Tiana Attride has made a very good Paradise Killer Name Generator.

  • Image for The BB Boys Road Trip: Part VIII

    Will the BB Boys ever catch a break? If being separated in last week's road trip instalment wasn't enough, they've now been swallowed up by yet another big old whale storm. Will the BB Boys find each other again? Will they ever finish this now eight-part road trip? Find out in this extra-long episode of our Death Stranding photo diary.

  • Image for I know horror writers who use subtext and they're all cowards

    Tis the season to be spooky, innit? I spent a lot of the weekend playing Amnesia: Rebirth for review (which is now live) and, as a contrast, watching The Haunting Of Bly Manor on Netflix.

    Rebirth wasn't quite as good as I'd hoped (by dint of it being a Frictional Games game, whom I hold to a very high standard), but it is still a great horror adventure. Bly Manor, on the other hand, is teeeeerrible. Worse than not being scary, it is often actually funny. So I've been thinking a lot about horror and what kinds of horror I think are good, and why.

  • Image for The BB Boys Road Trip: Part VII

    Disaster stuck at the end of last week's Death Stranding BB Boys road trip instalment. BB had disappeared! Our boy Sam had just woken up after doing a big sleep from carrying our pal Mama all the way up a mountain, only to find his beloved BB missing from his pod. How can we have a road trip with no BB?

    I must admit, it's a bit of a lonely one this week, as the man who looks suspiciously like Guillermo del Toro told our Sam (in the shower, no less) that BB is actually a bit ill and needs a bit of R&R before we can continue our trip. We try to have fun on our own, but it sure ain't the same. We miss you, BB.

  • Image for Promesa is a perfect tonic for these trying times

    Long gone are the days of coming home after a long day at work and bursting a vein in CS:GO or something. Instead, I’ve taken to cupping hot drinks and winding down with games that’ll give me a sense of progression, a laugh, but most important of all - a big old relax.

    And so, during the Steam Game Festival a little while back I gave the demo for Promesa a shot. It’s a walking simulator where you wander slowly through environments inspired by Argentinian and Italian architecture. These streets, and homes, and otherworldly places you visit are all figments of your character’s imagination as you, the grandchild, attempt to understand your grandfather’s experiences. If you need to escape reality for a bit, this here’s the ticket, folks.

  • Image for Ready Player One and "let's talk about your DeLorean for a minute."

    Every few months the internet gets back around to the "shhh let people enjoy things" phase of its ever-repeating cycle. I agree that there is no need to make fun of someone for enjoying a thing. But sometimes, when I see people deploying "let people enjoy things", I want to respond "let people not enjoy things". If I express a negative opinion or critique about some bit of pop culture ephemera, or a book or film that you love, it is not immediately a moral judgement on you for liking the thing. There is at least one exception, however, where I definitely am, and that is if I am talking about Ready Player One, which I think is probably the worst thing to ever be visited upon humanity in the history of all mankind.

    I'm prepared to admit that my hatred of RP1 is pretty irrational, by which I mean I have perfectly rational and explicable reasons for thinking it is rubbish, but the speed at which I go from at rest to standing on my feet yelling about how much I hate it whenever it is mentioned is... intense. Because, and I will freely admit this also, I am very jealous.

  • Image for The BB Boys Road Trip: Part VI

    The BB Boys were joined by a special guest on this week's instalment of my Death Stranding road trip. Our old pal Mama. Admittedly, she wasn't the chattiest traveling companion in the world, and certainly didn't seem to take as much joy from our trek across the barren, rocky landscape as the BB Boys somehow manage to do at every available opportunity.

    Still, it was nice to have some company for a bit, even if the entire exercise proved that the BB Boys are better off going it alone in the long-run. Seriously, what's a man gotta do to get a lady to crack a smile every once and a while, eh? Honestly, it's enough to make you despair for this extremely socially-distanced world where everyone's hanging out in underground bunkers we live in. Still, at least the BB Boys know how to have a good time, and that's what counts. Onward!

  • Image for I wonder how Mr. Libido is doing nowadays

    I’ve been barreling my way through the Yakuza series lately. I’m on a mission to get through them all before Yakuza: Like a Dragon arrives in November, so the clock’s ticking. It’s a journey that’s been roughly, hmmm, three years or so in the making? And I’ve aged tremendously in my amble to the finish line. But I’ve also met - and continue to meet - some interesting characters along the way, and one really sticks out in my mind. Mr. Libido.

  • Image for Phasmophobia will be fun when it's a bit less jank

    Ghosts: can't live with 'em, because they're dead! And also because they are making your living situation very uncomfortable. At least, this is the case in Phasmophobia, a game about being a ghost hunter that is currently in early access, and that me and Alice0 both keep almost calling Phantasmagoria.

    You go around a house, with the lights off, and try and find a ghost using various ghost findering tools. It has so far proven very popular, and I can see the appeal. I mean, there's no point playing it in single player, obviously, but I played a small bit with VidBud Colm and when it was working properly, it was pretty good. It's just it wasn't working properly for us very often.

  • Image for The BB Boys Road Trip: Part V

    After the exciting, cliffhanger ending of the last BB Boys instalment, my journey through Death Stranding's weird and wonderful landscapes continues this week with strange war trenches, a truly enormous waterfall, some fond memories of incinerators past and much more besides. Just what lies on the other side of that mad whale storm? Find out in Part V of my BB Boys Road Trip adventure.

  • Image for I beat Dark Souls 2 with the power of friendship

    One of my closest friends from home has a place down in the countryside. It’s perched on a cliff edge, so in the mornings you can sit on the balcony, grab a coffee, and stare out to sea. A few of us try our utmost to visit every year in a bid to catch up and let our worries melt away. It’s become tradition.

    Each time we head down, we’ll try and tackle a game. Once I brought Dark Souls 2 with me because it’s horrendously difficult, and I’d wanted to plough through it for a while (they had no choice). But fairly early on I just hit this wall. There was this one boss I simply couldn’t beat. No matter how hard I tried, how many hours I spent, how many videos I watched. I just didn’t get ‘it’.

  • Image for Forget new consoles and GPUs, my top pre-order of the week is this Square Enix CD

    It sure has been a week for pre-orders, hasn't it? Not only have we had two of Nvidia's new RTX graphics cards go on sale in the last seven days, but we've also had the PS5 and Xbox Series X competing for our attention as well. The collective Castle wallets are openly weeping at this point, lemme tell ya.

    But while new hardware is exciting and all that, nothing has got my blood pumping this week like the announcement of Square Enix's brilliant Symphonic Memories Concert CD going on sale during Tokyo Games Show week. I have been waiting for this CD for literal years, and I am so happy it's finally getting a proper release. So yes, you bet I was up at the crack of dawn hitting that refresh button for a CD, because there was no way in hell I was letting this one slip through my fingers.

  • Image for I want to bust Rainy Season's locked gate wide open

    I haven’t been back to Japan in a long, long time. As a family we used to visit my grandparents' house quite often when I was small, and I am insufferably nostalgic about it. This was one of the last old school, traditional Japanese buildings in Yokohama, one with sliding doors embellished with beautiful murals of mountains on them, and a quiet shrine room where you couldn’t hear anything but the creak of wood.

    Rainy Season by Inasa Fujio sees you take control of a Japanese boy reliving a childhood memory of a rainy day in his grandparents’ home. It’s a cozy, wistful experience which brought back some wonderful memories of times past, but also reinvigorated my desire to really explore Japan now I’m much older. You see, in Rainy Season there’s this locked front gate which refuses to open no matter how hard I rattle it.