The long development arm of the law
When I last played Police Stories, I was pretty delighted by how much the two level alpha had to offer. So it was with somewhat mixed feelings that a year later I found myself playing a four level alpha – this feels like slow progress, albeit it with a graphical overhaul. And yet I am just as captured and occupied by the levels it has, and really impressed with the improvements made. Read the rest of this entry »
Systems are doin' it for themselves
The power fantasy of exploring new worlds or meeting strange alien races (and then shooting at both of those things) is the kind of thing that big-budget games tend to focus on. As far as humour is concerned, they’re at best ‘plus comedy’ experiences that deliver on their key points but also have some funny quips along the way. You’re never asked to participate in the humour, and if the jokes don’t land then there’s little you as the player can do about it. So why not equip the player with the systems to write their own jokes and tell their own stories? And how do you foster humour creation in games that don’t already have a pun-based name for every item? I spoke to the developers of four such games to find out how they utilise this approach in order to enable players to create their own fun.
One thing that became evident through the interviews was that each and every system available to the player has to be airtight if they are to get the most out of the experience. A poorly-implemented system can cause you to lose investment in the same way that a poorly delivered punchline might. Each developer wanted to encourage experimentation through their game’s systems in their own way. But which comes first; the design of the systems or the desire to create humour? Read the rest of this entry »
A poultry task
This is Playstyle Royale, where I head into
Playerunknown’s Battlergounds a battle royale game and try to win my chicken dinner while adhering to arbitrary rules. This time’s a bit different, because I’m more interested in becoming a chicken than winning one.
I’m playing Realm Royale, the battle royale spin off to Hi-Rez’s Paladins. One of its best ideas is that when you run out of health, instead of dying you get to run around as a defenceless chicken: survive for 30 seconds, and you’re reincarnated in human form. I’m going to get myself poultry-fied three times, then win a game. That is definitely absolutely what is going to happen. Read the rest of this entry »
An entirely free Shadowrun game!
Back once again like so many proverbial block-rocking beats, it’s the time where we can stop and take a look at some of the best PC gaming deals of the week. It’s all fun and games until we all spend far too much money in the Steam Summer Sale, so before that happens, have a look at what this week’s got to offer and see if you can spend your money elsewhere.
Then go ahead and gorge on the Steam sale.
As usual, we’ve got deals that’ll work in the UK, deals that’ll work in the US and some deals that will work in both the UK and US, as well as presumably many other places. Let’s get started.
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New Testaments is a new monthly column in which Amr Al-Aaser presents an overlooked modern game and explicates its best ideas.
Nioh is the kind of game that this column exists for. On release it quickly saw itself buried beneath the comparisons to Dark Souls, praised for the ways it imitated the series, and criticised for its failings in repeating From Software’s successes. But while Nioh clearly follows in the precedent set for the genre by Dark Souls, it does so in the same way something like Monolith’s BLOOD follows Doom: with a clear lineage, but with very different aims and aesthetic goals.
Nothing illustrates this difference in attitude more than the ki pulse.
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E3's hidden gems
Now that the festival of bellowing that is E3 2018 has come to an end, we begin the arduous process of making sense of it all. This means sifting through mountains of press releases and trailers to find all the curious games that lurked outside the spotlight glare of the larger publishers. And we find such treats as Maneater (Jaws RPG where you play as Jaws), Rapture Rejects (battle royale where you fight for the last spot in heaven) and Neo Cab (Uber-sim meets Blade Runner). So many delightful things, in fact, that new video person Noa couldn’t resist gathering them together.
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Listen to our natter
The festival of dumb explosions known as E3 is over, but that won’t stop us. The RPS podcast, the Electronic Wireless Show, goes deep into the show, picking out our favourite games, the oddest moments, and best rats (spoiler: it was the one crushed by a shelf in the Resident Evil 2 trailer). We’re also introducing two new voices this week. Who are these strange people? Read the rest of this entry »
Why won't you just die?
Wild theories have surrounded the three words “Shadows die twice”. My personal favourite was that From Software’s new game was a return to the Tenchu series, since they own the rights. Turns out this was partially right, but only in the sense that it’s about ninjas. As Dark Souls director Hidetaka Miyazaki’s latest project, Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice is the company’s return to feudal Japan. It’s fast become one of the most anticipated games shown at E3 2018 and it’s different from anything FromSoftware have developed since Demon’s Souls. So here’s everything we know so far on Sekiro, including snippets from what others have seen behind closed doors and clues from the shown footage.
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Scream if you wanna go faster
The inspiration for Alien: Isolation came from a simple thought experiment: what if somebody let a lion loose in developer Creative Assembly’s office? “I’d get behind my desk and make sure it wouldn’t see me,” says the game’s creative director Alistair Hope. “Then, you’d need to get to the fire escape. Maybe I’d move desk to desk and distract it. If you are confronted by it, what do you do? What do you know about it? What do you know about what it knows about you? That felt pretty cool, and it wasn’t relying on scripted events.”
Most of us know the feelings of dread that accompany playing a horror game. But how do developers create those feelings from scratch? What are the tricks that developers use to scare us, and create a sense of atmosphere? How do they go from imagining a lion in a studio, or an empty bathroom, to moments that will scare the pants off us? I spoke to four of the top minds in the industry to find out. Read the rest of this entry »
Know your role
Perhaps the strangest thing for new players of Realm Royale is knowing the differences between the various classes on offer. Each one has a uniquely different play style with a host of abilities to master, as well as their own unique class legendary weapon to craft at the forge. This guide will take you through each one, detail what spells and weapons to grab, and also some tips on how to use them effectively.
Since this is not your typical battle royale game, there are a variety of things that you need to know going in. You can find some more of the core game tips and tricks over at the main guide for Realm Royale, which includes, among other things, some tricks to keep in mind should you become a chicken. Read the rest of this entry »
Not so far out after all
My spaceship has taken off. This ought to be cause for celebration, a moment that engenders cheers from mission control. Except there’s a problem: I’m not in the cockpit. I’d been looking at the ship’s log in the back and considering my next journey when suddenly the whole ship just rose up. “Oh no,” I say, as the sensation of free fall kicks in. “No no no no no.” I run back to the cockpit and look around. The ground outside is still there, the trees and the grass. This is odd, because it’s also pitch black – we’re definitely in space. This is when I realise: My ship didn’t take off. The entire island did.
This is space exploration game Outer Wilds. And I have no time to understand how the whole island on which I’ve parked has been launched into space, because it’s already falling back down. I need to take off, right now. Read the rest of this entry »
Pilot a giant land boat
This is The Mechanic, where Alex Wiltshire invites developers to discuss the difficult journeys they’ve taken to make their games. This time, Far: Lone Sails [official site].
It’s there when you first start the engine, in the hiss of steam as you press the ignition button and the rumble as the great wheels begin to turn. Then the music swells and you know the journey has begun.
Far: Lone Sails is a game by Okomotive about piloting a giant land boat across a destroyed landscape, about tending a huge machine through unpropitious conditions: hail and storms, fires, failure and shortages of fuel. And a great deal of your understanding of its colossal workings comes through sound, with music which responds to your actions and many layers of looping sound effects which subtly change shape as you trundle through a vast wilderness. Read the rest of this entry »
The holy trinity of gaming mice
I’ll admit to doing a bit of a double-take when I saw how much the Razer Naga Trinity goes for these days. £100 / $90? On your bike, lad. But then I realised the Naga Trinity isn’t really just a single mouse. With its trio of interchangeable side plates, this is three mice in one, giving you the option of two, seven or twelve extra buttons to use how you see fit, from classic desktop tasks to having every last MOBA and MMO command right there at your fingertips. It’s also, I might add, pretty damn comfy.
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The rise and fall of choice and consequence
When I published my Vampyr review (summary: choice is an illusion, apart from when it’s a roulette wheel; the dialogue’s stuffy but the fights are tight if you invest in them), I estimated that I was about two-thirds of the way through the game. With embargoes and deadlines out the way, I was curious to see how it all resolved, and particularly what, if any, pdark consequences would ultimately ripple outwards from the choices I had made. It’ll just take few hours, I reasoned. One more working day.
16 hours of increasingly maddening play later, I grimly watched the credits roll, my mind a whirl of relief, contempt and despair. If my post-review return to Vampyr had immediately collapsed into the combination of soporific lore and desperately ill-judged combat excess that did its final furlong, I wouldn’t have minded so much. What frustrated me was that this was preceded by a strong stretch wherein it finally became the game of agonising vampiric dilemmas that we’d hoped it would be from the start. So close to brilliance, and then this abrupt decay into absolute folly. Read the rest of this entry »
A bitter royale
It was a matter of time before battle royale got spun up from a top-down perspective. True, the surprisingly fun surviv.io was the first to get there – but that’s essentially a 2D port of PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, and nearly as shallow as that description implies. Dota 2 is the first game to tackle the genre with a little more depth: I’ve been playing its Underhollow mode, with strangers.
I do not advise playing Dota 2’s Underhollow mode with strangers. Read the rest of this entry »
Blizzard's shooter is getting less interesting
Symmetra has always been a bit of an odd-hero-out among Overwatch’s roster of characters. She was the only support character not capable of healing her teammates, leaving players unsure of what her role was. Despite a previous rework, she was rarely played. At lower levels she was sometimes chosen in very specific situations, usually as the first point of defence on certain maps, but her pick rate plummeted the further up the rankings you went. In the Overwatch League, she was the only hero to never be played at all.
Yet she was also one of the most hated characters in the game. The main point of contention was her auto-aim primary fire, which locked on to enemies within range and charged up, doing more damage over time. Players who thought the game should only reward a narrow definition of skill, hinging on aim and reflexes, became vitriolic. “No aim, no brain, Symmetra main,” became a meme, often seen in match chat whenever someone got frustrated. And that was a milder comment; when I chose her after the rework was announced (but before it was playable on the test servers), one member of the opposing team told me: “People who play Sym are f*****s and shall be executed.” Read the rest of this entry »
You won't get away with this, Snowmancer!
Oh look, this Life is Strange spin-off is due out next week as a freebie. The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit is a two-hour pretend-em-up in which you play Chris, an imaginative kid who fancies himself a superhero on the weekends, and isn’t afraid to take on evil beings like the powerful Snowmancer (a snowman) and nasty beasts such as the dreaded Water Eater (the water heater). That sounds like fun. Until you discover the real enemies lurking in Chris’ modest bungalow. Grief, alcoholism, and neglect are the underlying villains here, if the demo I saw at E3 is anything to go by. More like the Super Concerning Adventures of Captain Sadness, am I right?
*starts sobbing* Read the rest of this entry »
Round and round and round
If Euro and American Truck Simulator left me with a deep envy of lorry drivers and a daydream of becoming one, Bus Simulator 18 leaves me with a deep sympathy for bus drivers and a great terror that I might ever become one. Read the rest of this entry »
The devil's in the details
Cyberpunk 2077 finally came out of its shell at E3 2018. CD Projekt Red’s first-person, open-world RPG was shown to the world via a colourful, exciting trailer, and then shown to press with a long, 50-minute in-game demonstration. We’ve seen both, interviewed the developers, interviewed the creator of the original Cyberpunk 2020 pen-and-paper RPG, and done our best to hack the Gibson to reveal any extra information we can. Below you’ll find all of that plus the usual announcements, trailers, and release date information. Read the rest of this entry »