Posts Tagged ‘review’

Wot I Think: All Walls Must Fall

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Bullets tear across a sweating dancefloor, heaving with bodies. Flashes of metal and flesh, lights pulsing and skittering across glistening bodies. All Walls Must Fall’s nightclub shoot-outs are a devilish dream, capturing at once the brilliance of Terminator’s Tech Noir horror and the actual punk in cyberpunk. I just wish there was more to the game than a thousand murders on the dancefloor.

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Wot I Think: Chuchel

Chuchel is a tour de force of animation, every scene so vibrant and hilarious, colourful and manic, the slightest tweaks in character facial expressions eliciting guffaws. Every new scene is a glorious delight just to look at, before you even start playing with it. And then, as you click on every element on the screen, delightful, silly and gorgeous things happen. This is a game where I find myself trying to work out what is the correct solution to any given puzzle, just so I can avoid clicking on it before I’ve clicked on everything else. I exhaust every repeated joke until it loops, don’t mind when they do, and call people in from other rooms to see the funniest moments. Chuchel is, beyond belief, wonderful.

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Wot I Think: Way of The Passive Fist

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If Way of The Passive Fist were a true brawler in the vein of Streets of Rage, I would forgive people for being disappointed in it. Taken at face value, it doesn’t quite live up to the heady standards set by the likes of Konami, Capcom and SNK back in the day.

It’s a good thing, then, that under the familiar 90s arcade facade lies a satisfying game of memorization and rhythm that (while not without issue) makes for a very respectable debut title from new studio Household Games. It’s out today, and here’s Wot I Thunk of it.

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Wot I Think: Ion Maiden

Ion Maiden Preview Campaign is, without question, brilliant. A mad-speed Build engine project that feels like it was made by present-day time travellers who went back to 1996 to make a game. It’s stupid and crass and loud and gory and everything else you could hope for. And this is just the two-mission mini campaign while they finish the full game.

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Wot I Think: Pit People

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Equal parts absolutely delightful and absolutely infuriating, turn-based strategy-RPG/surreal cartoon Pit People probably couldn’t have a chosen a worse time to lumber out of early access. The reason for that is Into The Breach. I came to Pit People straight off the back of my Into The Breach review, which means I’d just experienced a revelation in how brisk and elegant the age-old formula of taking turns to shuffle a small force of units across a set of tiles to bash or shoot enemies can be.

Because of that, it’s hard to forgive Pit People’s drawn-out, slow-motion wars of attrition. But it’s even harder to put it down, because it’s such a firehose of ideas, visual gags and spoken comedy outside of its cold and chewy tactical meat and potatoes.

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Wot I Think: Metal Gear Survive

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There was a point early on in Metal Gear Survive where I thought that, despite its annoyances, Konami’s zombie spin-off was actually going to be quite good. It came about an hour in when I had to sneak into a base packed with shambling horrors, using stealth and distraction to outwit the hordes. It was tense. It was exciting.

That didn’t last long.

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Wot I Think: Where The Water Tastes Like Wine

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In Where the Water Tastes Like Wine, stories are currency. You walk the backroads and fields of the United States during the Great Depression, occasionally freighthopping or hitching a ride from one town to the next. Along the way, you meet many people and witness many events, most of them insignificant in the grand scheme of history and the land, but all contributing to a complex tapestry of a certain time and place.

Everything that you witness and every conversation you have becomes a tale in your repertoire, and in retelling these tales you learn about the characters you share them with, around campfires that are dotted around the map. It’s at the campfires that stories become currency, and also where the game’s combination of folktale and interactive systems becomes muddled.

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Wot I Think: Into The Breach

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Look not to what high-speed, turn-based, sci-fi strategy wonder Into The Breach shares with its timeless predecessor FTL: Faster Than Light, but instead to how aggressively different it is. Though they share a soul of permadeath and moment-to-moment dilemmas, entire limbs have been lopped off and casually thrown aside, teeth and hair uprooted and plugged back in at strange new angles, eyeballs moved to places that were never designed to have eyeballs. Not in merely superficial ways either. It has moved from space-bound chaos to ground-based decisions, from spaceship crew management to mech vs horror-bug warfare, even from real-time to turn-based combat.

Yet the really startling change is that, unlike FTL, Into The Breach is rarely a game of chance, of random, cruel loss or sudden fortune, but instead is almost pathologically fair, even if it often doesn’t feel like it. There is no calamity here that cannot be traced back to your own actions. In other words, you’ve only got yourself to blame for the total wipeout of humanity. But this particular end of the world is a glorious one, and one I will happily keep experiencing for years to come.
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Wot I Think: Yume Nikki – Dream Diary

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Playing Yume Nikki: Dream Diary is like sitting across from somebody as they explain their dreams to you in great detail. No. Worse than that. It’s like listening to somebody describe an acquaintance’s dreams in great detail.

Every now and then, they pause and say something along the lines of, “you had to be there”, as people do when they’re telling a funny story that nobody is laughing at. In its transition from tiny sprites, abstract backgrounds and obscure free-form exploration to jerky 3d animation and side-scrolling running and jumping, Yume Nikki has lost almost all of its mysterious horror and charm.

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Wot I Think: Orwell – Ignorance Is Strength Chapter 1

Orwell: Ignorance Is Strength is being released, for some odd reason, in three chapters over the space of a month. The first is out now, and so I put on my best spying monocle to tell you wot I think.

Orwell was a game I thoroughly enjoyed despite its ludicrously silly conceit – a day one appointee at a secret government spying programme being given the reins to investigate a serious terrorist attack. So, with the arrival of its sequel, I hoped it was at least in a position to move on past this daft premise. But, no! Amazingly, you’re yet again someone who’s applying online to work for Orwell, and that same day you’re given access to techno-spying abilities that shouldn’t be in the hands of MI5’s highest ranking operatives.

When I reviewed the first game, I realised I was in the odd position of having this arm-long list of things that made the game seem fundamentally silly, but argued for how I’d enjoyed it so much despite that. In playing the sequel just over a year later, I’d really hoped to be saying how so much of these daft problems had been addressed, and that which made it such a good idea be pushed to the front. Unfortunately, not a single aspect of its conceit has changed.

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Wot I Think: Stellaris – Apocalypse

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I’ve made a lot of galaxies and star empires this last week, and I’ve thrown most of them in the bin. The Stellaris 2.0 update and the accompanying Apocalypse DLC have blown this 4X game to bits, along with my fleets as I’ve tried to wrap my head around the almost-new game built out of its chunks. Though I’ve racked up hundreds of hours of galactic conquest over the last couple of years, I’ve had to start fresh and figure out how to run a stellar empire all over again.

The xenophobic Imperium of Earth fell behind the rest of the galaxy and quickly found itself boxed in, the possessive but friendly Automata Matrix got squished in a war between Federations, and the slavers of the Saarlan Ravagers just weren’t fun to play because they’re dicks. I should be a bit frustrated, but instead I’m hooked again. The DLC isn’t essential, but the free update completely revitalises Stellaris, and it takes big risks to do it.

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We perhaps need a little bit more education: Assassin’s Creed Origins’ Discovery Tour

The announcement of the Discovery Tour was a source of much rejoicing. Ubisoft’s Assassin’s Creed games have for many years built these extraordinarily detailed cities, that are swiftly disposed of as the series’ annual development cycle demands fresh urban grist for the mill. The recreation of Ptolemaic Egypt was by far Ubisoft’s most remarkable, and the idea of using it as an educational tool, a living museum of sorts, was well received.

In practice, Discovery Tour by Assassin’s Creed: Ancient Egypt (to give it its given name) is a peculiar thing, made with much ambition, but seemingly little understanding of how education actually works. Read the rest of this entry »

Assassin’s Creed Origins’ Discovery Tour censors all the nudey statues

We’ve only just started exploring the newly released Discovery Tour for Assassin’s Creed Origins, but there’s something we thought you should know. Gone entirely are all the marble boobies and winkies. For what we can only assume are “educational purposes”, the game’s many statues have been rather daftly covered up by a plague of seashells. Read the rest of this entry »

Even The Ocean shows us how good people let bad things happen

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Videogames aren’t much for quiet. They trend towards spectacle, to grandiose statements of scale, and the intense catharsis of violence. And sometimes that means we won’t hear a message unless its shouted at us, unless it roars above the noise ever present in this space. We prefer meaning to be blunt and dramatic.

So it’s easy to see how Even The Ocean, the second game from the creators of Anodyne, became lost at sea. The game’s core is in the subtle ways it reinforces its story with its puzzles, without a moment of combat in sight. But being free of combat doesn’t mean it’s free of violence. Here the violence is structural, rather than physical. It’s a story about who we harm on our climb up society’s ladder, and the ways we reinforce harmful structures to support ourselves. It’s a far cry from the cheeky surrealism of Anodyne, and a more measured story from a more mature team. Read the rest of this entry »

Premature Evaluation: Eco

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Premature Evaluation is the weekly column in which we explore the wilds of early access. This week, Fraser’s joining a civilisation and facing down a meteor in environmentally-conscious sandbox Eco. But mostly he’s building a terrible house.

The worlds of crafting and survival games are big balls of resources waiting to be exploited. Normally. Not so in Eco, where the world is a vulnerable, reactive globe that requires respect and nurturing. And only a wee bit of exploitation. It looks like a pretty Minecraft, but while it shares most of its fundamentals, Eco is as much simulation as a crafting sandbox, complete with an ecosystem that can be irreparably destroyed by human interference.

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Wot I Think (Or Seemingly Can’t Think): Cypher

A new game from Matthew “Hexcells” Brown is always a reason to sit up and remember where you are. Cypher marks quite a diversion from the likes of Hexcells, Squarecells and CrossCells. (Although so did Sound Shift.) Although it remains a collection of puzzles presented with his distinctively clean aesthetic, this time in 3D. It’s about solving ciphers. And it’s really bloody tough. Read the rest of this entry »

Sweatness and light: The Men of Yoshiwara: Kikuya review

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Join Ella McConnell for Waifu Material, a new monthly column in which she navigates the murky, cherry-blossom-strewn waters of visual novels, dating sims, and everything in between (reader masochism not required but strongly recommended). [Content warning: sketchy consent stuff.]

With one of my most recent visual novel excursions having been the cat-fucking creepiness of NEKOPARA, it was high time to go back into otome territory.The Men of Yoshiwara: Kikuya was released on Steam back in October 2015, with the game previously having been available on the PS Vita and as a smartphone app. Because of the latter and the fact that it costs a whopping £22.99 at full price, I had my doubts – BUT IT’S TOO LATE NOW. Read the rest of this entry »

Wot I Think: Fe

Fe is, I’m so pleased to report, utterly wonderful. I’ve no idea how to say it, whether it’s “Fee”, “Fey”, or maybe even “Iron”? It matters not. It is, perhaps, the most beautiful game I’ve ever seen. And playing it, swooping, running and leaping about in its world, has been a complete delight. And continues to be, even after I’ve ostensibly finished it. Here’s wot I think. Read the rest of this entry »

Wot I Think: Crossing Souls

Crossing Souls gets off to such a great start. It immediately looks vividly beautiful, a gorgeous splash of pixels and colour, incredibly detailed scenes that would only look less elaborate, less refined, if they were depicted in a more updated graphical style. Then it goes head-first into nostalgia-poking happy places, a story of kids starting an adventure on the first day of the impossibly long summer holidays.

Or you could say: Crossing Souls, a game that grows steadily worse the more you play, immediately beginning by ticking off every tropey 1980s reference one by one, as it introduces its stereotypical gang of kids in a cavalcade of ‘80s movie clichés, grabbing hold of the very tip of Stranger Things’ coattails.

It would very much depend upon how cynical you were feeling. Both are true.

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Wot I Think: Railway Empire

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For years, the people of Baltimore had to content themselves with the long, winding route through New York, Albany, Syracuse and Buffalo to get themselves to the fabled city of Pittsburgh, where steel grew on trees. But in 1834, the Baltimore & Ohio Rail Company, my company, finally had the funds to embark on an audacious project: a really big tunnel.

Broadly covering the first century of North American railway expansion, Railway Empire is a battle against geography. Huge mountain ranges and serpentine rivers ensure that flat ground is highly coveted, but if you’ve got enough cash in your bank account, then even the Alleghenies can be conquered.

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