Posts Tagged ‘review’

Wot I Think: Celeste

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You’re climbing a mountain. It’s hard, especially when the wind is cutting through you like a knife and angry spikes are pulsing from the walls. Sometimes you’re not even sure if the mountain is actually a metaphor for every difficult thing you’ve ever done in your life. That’s how much trouble you’re having getting to the peak.

That is my brief summary of Celeste, a game that has flung me into the abyss hundreds of times, battered me into submission, and placed me in predicaments that are as unnerving as they are challenging. It’s a tricky platform game, with a beautifully melancholy story, and enough creativity on show to give me strength even when the going got so tough I almost lost hope.

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Wot I Think: Subnautica

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The best survival games are about conquering fear. Last year, when I first splashed about in Subnautica’s alien ocean, I was wary of leaving the shallow reef in which you first crash land. I eyed the hazy green water of the nearby kelp forests with fear, knowing it was full of Stalkers, an aggressive fish whose body is mostly one long croc-like jaw. Today, I swim among these beasts, collecting vines and seed pods as they impotently pursue me through the weeds. I’ve become a proficient scavenger, making the journey from trouserless idiot to Tom Hanks in Castaway’s third act. But even now there are places I do not like to go. Read the rest of this entry »

Wot I Think: Iconoclasts

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It’s an odd experience to have followed the development of a game for almost a decade, only to have it blindside you. Iconoclasts, the slow-cooked passion project from prolific developer and highly talented sprite-artist Joakim ‘Konjak’ Sandberg might look like your average Metroidvania-type platform adventure at first glance, but that’s not the whole picture.

Konjak cites semi-obscure Genesis/Megadrive game Monster World IV as his primary inspiration. That’s not a game I’ve played so I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect. Thankfully, I came away very pleasantly surprised by Iconoclasts’ unconventional flow and strange story.

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Wot I Think: The Red Strings Club

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The Red Strings Club is a narrative driven adventure game that explores transhumanism, AI and morality against a cyberpunk backdrop. If you asked me to choose three things that I like to talk and think about, there’s a good chance I’d pick out those three – so Deconstruteam would have been hard pressed to not keep my attention even if they’d somehow failed to take their subject matter anywhere interesting.

Oh boy, is the Red Strings Club interesting.

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Wot I Think- Total War: Warhammer 2 – Rise of the Tomb Kings DLC

why the long, skinless face?

I can sympathise, at least a little, with the ancient Egyptian-themed undead known as the Tomb Kings, and who are Total War: Warhammer 2’s newest faction. A decade ago, I was trapped underneath the Great Pyramid of Giza for a mere 20 minutes while another tourist had a claustrophobia-induced panic attack. Waking up inside a pyramid and discovering that your innards are full of embalming fluid and you have only rags to hide your desiccated shame would, I imagine, be a little bit more unpleasant. No wonder they want to murder all the living.

With a chip on their bony shoulders and an appetite for power and conquest, the Tomb Kings are comfortable fit for Total War, even more so than their multitude of warlike adversaries. They’re an unceasing military machine that has yet to discover a problem that it can’t fling an infinite number of disposable animated corpses at, over and over again. This new faction is, however, something of an acquired taste, with some uneven integration into the campaign – but nonetheless the Tomb Kings are a surprisingly forgiving starting point for newcomers.

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Wot I Think: Nantucket

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My rotten sloop is wheezing into port, the decks slick with blubber and blood, and still it isn’t enough. The sea teems with life and before this day is done, I swear I will silence all of it. From our home port to the distant shores of Europe and Africa, the water will run red.

This is Nantucket, a strategic-RPG about the golden age of whaling. I’m hunting for Moby Dick but it’s a long voyage from lowly captain to vengeance and fate personified. Mostly, my time is spent stabbing tiny baby whales until they turn into piles of money and food.

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Wot I Think: The bloody creepy Rusty Lake Paradise

The long-running saga of Rusty Lake continues in Rusty Lake: Paradise, and I’m pleased to report this is one of its finest outings. I wasn’t sure at first, but by the end I was deeply embroiled in its Lynchian psychic dystopia, once more tangentially exploring the lives of a creepy family, crow-faced creatures, and that fuzzy black man-thing that haunts my dreams.

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Pictopix just doubled in size, and remains the best picross game on PC

The best picross/nonogram puzzle game on PC, Pictopix, just got a free update on its first anniversary. It’s added in another 45 large-size puzzles, pretty much doubling the play-time of the whole game. So I’ve gone back in, and argue once more why this is the sort of PC game our industry is sadly failing to celebrate.

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Bridge Constructor Portal isn’t a rollercoaster of laughs, but it’s still good

Weeeee

It’s not the Portal follow-up we were expecting, but it’s the one we got. Bridge Constructor Portal is a crossover between Valve’s comedy science puzzler and the strut-straddling engineering of the Bridge Constructor series. You’re still making bridges that wobble from A to B, and sending small vehicles across your creations. However, you also have the distraction of portals, turrets, proulsion gel and catapults, as well as a passive aggressive computer that passes judgement on your techniques. It feels fruitless to review such a straightforward cocktail – it’s two flavours you may already know so let’s just see how they blend together. And the opening chapters are reassuring. This is a decent wee nugget of a puzzler. Read the rest of this entry »

Hitchhiker: a purgatorial roadtrip through a place both wonderful and strange

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Hitchiker: the colours of Firewatch, the zen roadtrip calm of Truck Simulator, the addled homespun wisdom of that sarsaparilla-loving barfly from The Big Lebowski and the abstract underworld uncertainty of Twin Peaks’ supernatural side. Also, an awful lot of raisins. Basically, it’s somehow identified all the aesthetics that most please me (raisins excepted) and bundled them together into a cars’n’conversation odyssey that is equal parts charming and terrifying.

The first of several planned parts, each of which sees you hitching a ride with a different driver, is out today. Your travelling companion for this first ride, still officially deemed a prototype but available as a Humble Original right now, is a honey-voiced raisin farmer in no hurry to get anywhere but with a whole lot of secrets to share. It’s rather special, despite a few shortcomings.

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Wot I Think: Playerunknown’s Battlegrounds

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I had done what I always do. That’s how I ended up on the southern coast of Erangel, as far as it was possible to be from the randomly placed circular safe area. My only hope of reaching safety was to find a vehicle. I’d just spotted one 20 yards ahead of me by the side of a road when another player, one of the hundred people fighting to be the sole survivor on this island, sprinted past me in that same moment, heading straight for the car.

I did something I rarely do in Playerunknown’s Battlegrounds. I opened fire. Read the rest of this entry »

Wot I Think: Death Coming

Death Coming is a fantastically beautiful piece of pixel artwork, on a par with the master of the art, eBoy, and a game in which you must try to create accidents to kill as many of the world’s inhabitants as you can. For you are Death…’s assistant. It sounds great! It would be, if it would only stop getting in its own way. Read the rest of this entry »

RIOT – Civil Unrest is a handsome but pointless RTS

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The molotov cocktails and pixel fires of Riot – Civil Unrest have lit up on early access. It’s an RTS of street tactics where you control either rioters or the police, seeking to control the plazas and highways of Egypt, Spain and other nations grazed by disorder in the past decade. It focuses on real world popular uprisings and protest movements like the Arab Spring, the Indignados, and the environmental protesters of Italy and Greece. Because of this, you might expect it to be a political powderkeg. But Riot not only manages to say nothing noteworthy about any of these conflicts, it also shows little competence as a game. Read the rest of this entry »

Wot I Think: Shadowhand

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Fans of bodices and inheritance might remember card game Regency Solitaire. Pip and Adam enjoyed looking for tea sets underneath piles of cards in that tale of gambling and gossiping. But I’m in charge of the card games now. So I get to review highway robbery follow-up Shadowhand. If I were a member of the polite, ball-attending society of the game I might say it was frightfully untaxing. But I’m not, thank fuck. So I can just say it’s boring. Read the rest of this entry »

Wot I Think: Okami HD

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It’s easy to mock Capcom’s seemingly endless stream of reboots and re-releases, but if there’s one game in the publisher’s back catalogue that truly deserves to be reincarnated for the modern age, it’s Clover Studio’s Okami. While Clover itself has since faded into the mists of time (the remnants going on to form Bayonetta studio PlatinumGames), its ink-washed tale of Japanese sun gods and monstrous demons remains as bright and vibrant as ever, the last ten-odd years bouncing off wolf heroine Amaterasu’s gleaming fur almost as if they never happened. Sure, there are still a few wrinkles and matted tufts here and there, but whatever anti-aging stuff Capcom and Hexa-drive used here, I want it, and I want it now.

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Wot I Think: Finding Paradise (To The Moon 2)

To The Moon is one of my favourite gaming experiences. No game has made me blub as hard, or as often, and it earned those tears through a funny, passionate, emotionally complex story. Finding Paradise, a direct sequel after a number of smaller asides, didn’t make me cry. It made me laugh, think, wonder, and finish with a sad smile on my face, but no tears. But games aren’t measured by how much they make you cry, people, come on. Read the rest of this entry »

Wot I Think: SpellForce 3

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SpellForce 3 might sound like the name of a magically-inclined superhero team — and it absolutely should be — but it’s actually a chimera, a beast created by smashing together an isometric RPG and an RTS. You’ve got your jolly old fantasy adventures, pilfering dungeons and beating up hardworking goblins, and then you’ve got outposts to build, trees to chop down and troops to train. Considered individually, neither layer is going to set the world on fire, but SpellForce 3 is the poster child for being more than the sum of its parts.

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Wot I Think: Gorogoa

Gorogoa feels like a sort of magic that might fall apart in the understanding. It’s a beautiful story in which you solve puzzles more by instinct than deduction, and their solutions feel as magical as the process. Its impossibly overlapping world weaves a delicate fiction that stretches beyond the boundaries of its central conceit. Read the rest of this entry »

Premature Evaluation: Dustwind

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This week’s Premature Evaluation dumps Fraser in Dustwind’s isometric wasteland, forced to murder other players in grisly real-time tactical brawls. Also it has dogs.

I’ll admit it — I decided to take Dustwind for a spin primarily because of one line on the Steam store page: “Play as a dog.” In post-apocalyptic battle arenas that evoke Fallout and Wasteland, no less. And we’re not talking about your run-of-the-mill, hangs out in dog parks defecating everywhere kind of dog. No, Dustwind’s pooches are battle-hardened terrors, capable of covering the battlefield in mines or manning a vehicle’s turret. How could I say no? How could it go wrong?

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Wot I Think: Hyakki Castle

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It’s almost impossible to talk about Asakusa Studio’s debut game Hyakki Castle without invoking the looming western spectre of Legend of Grimrock. While this particular formula for party-based first-person dungeon crawlery (real-time grid-based movement and all) dates all the way back to Dungeon Master in the 80s, Grimrock is the game that re-launched a genre, and a solid yardstick by which to measure imitators.

Hyakki Castle, then, is Legend of Grimrock – the original, rather than the more open-world sequel – in Medieval, mythical Japan. It’s a pure dungeon crawl with only the most threadbare of stories: a team of four heroes are sent to a cursed castle to stop an evil wizard. Boilerplate, even by dungeon crawl standards. Hyakki Castle has few ambitions of its own and while it comes tantalisingly close to Grimrock at moments, more often than not it feels like a shallow imitation that doesn’t even wear its own aesthetic as comfortably as it should.

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