Headlander [official site], Double-Fine and Adult Swim’s skull-swapping Metroidvania affair is nothing like as funny as it probably thinks it is, but fortunately it’s a quiet delight in so many other ways. It’s also filthy.
RPS Feature Beautiful, ingenious and a little bit filthy
RPS Feature Stylish enough to forgive its flaws
I’ve lined up my suitcase rifle, sawed open my escape route, and written two lines of code to control a small robot when I blink. Blink once and a set of lasers turn off allowing me to enter through a space station maintenance tunnel without triggering any alarms; blink twice and a second set turn off, allowing me to exit cleanly. It’s only a few moments later, as I stand in the vacuum of space, that I realise I left my deck – the computer by which I write scripts to control suitcase rifles, small robots, lasers and more – back in the maintenance corridor.
Quadrilateral Cowboy is a game about breaking into buildings to raid vaults, steal safes and hack coma patients. It’s a stylish, retro-futurist love letter to computing, engineering and ’90s videogame level design. It also feels like the prelude to a better game.
RPS Feature Time to decide!
Flip a coin. If it’s heads, carry on. If it’s tails, embark upon a 20-hour adventure in which you might be cut in half with a chainsaw, dissolved in acid, or turned into nuclear goop in a big uranium-fuelled explosion.
This is the first and most central decision of visual novel/room escape game Zero Escape: Zero Time Dilemma. Nine people are trapped in a facility, and six people must die in order to reveal the six passwords for the exit. What’s more, every 90 minutes, everyone is put to sleep and their memories are wiped, which – as you might imagine – makes everything terribly confusing to piece together, for both them and you.
RPS Feature Grow Beasts
It’s hard not to compare Human: Fall Flat with Ubisoft’s Grow Home and Boneloaf’s Gang Beasts, because Human: Fall Flat [official site] tumbles in the exact same physics-powered footsteps. In Grow Home you control a little robot called BUD, unsteady on his feet, using physics to solve puzzles and climb a giant plant. In Gang Beasts you control little blobby creatures, unsteady on their feet, using physics to have multiplayer fights. In Human: Fall Flat you control a little blobby creature called Bob, unsteady on his feet, using physics to solve puzzles and progress through its rooms. However, rather importantly, HFF makes a strong effort to do something appropriately different with the same ideas. Here’s wot I think.
RPS Feature How lake it was, how lake
I don’t think I could name a more beautiful game. I don’t use ‘beauty’ in the straightforward sense of Kentucky Route Zero [official site]’s appearance, although its bold geometric shapes and flat-wash colour absolutely qualifies, as does its wonderful architecture – Americana infused with magic realism. There is the soundtrack and the sounds too, ambience and steel guitar and the lonely sound of engines – gentle sonic beauty, but again that is on the surface.
In fact there is beauty woven through the core of KRZ: its love of images, its love of words, its love of the American landscape, and perhaps most of all in its preoccupation with the warmer side of the human mind. Whether that be conviviality and the coming together of sympathetic souls, or pulling solace from solitude and from the road. This has been a theme, of sorts, throughout KRZ’s first three acts, but the fourth arguably pushes it more to the fore, consciously slowing down and allowing its expanding cast to idle, to find themselves in idyllic rather than unsettling locales. This could be a good life, if they wanted it.
RPS Feature Something for everyone
I’m a space cowboy made of stellar gas and I’ve spent the day farming. Starbound [official site] is a gargantuan galactic playground jam-packed with gunfights, planet-hopping adventures and tomb raiding, but I’ve probably spent just as much tending to my crops, decorating and going on shopping sprees. I’m utterly content.
RPS Feature Dead on arrival