The Swords Of Ditto has perhaps 378 good ideas in it. That’s over 80% more good ideas than most games. My problem on approaching this review is trying to work out whether I think a barrage of good ideas is necessarily a good overall game.
RPS Feature Lives unending
RPS Feature I like everything it does, but not how it does it
I was perplexed to discover that my partner, also a home-worker, was wearing earplugs as she sat at her computer. There was, for once, none of the thunderous din of new kitchens or loft extensions being built in one of the adjacent terraced houses, and nor was my own PC’s volume set high as I threw stompy tankbots at each other in XCOM-meets-Mechwarrior turn-based strategy game/boardgame adaptation BattleTech. Stony-faced, she informed me that listening to me sporadically bellow “Oh god, it’s so boring” every few minutes is not terribly conducive to work. I didn’t even know I was doing it.
I don’t like calling things boring. It’s an aggressively dismissive criticism, and often says as much about the accuser as the accused. I’ve returned to BattleTech repeatedly, in different moods and with absolute determination to find the fun in a game made from components I usually thrill to, but I keep winding up in the same place: bored. And then hating myself for feeling that way.
RPS Feature A cold-hearted city builder
When I signed the law drafting children into my city’s workforce, I should have felt resistance. Some sense of remorse, or an impulse to explore other options—anything but this. Instead, I was simply surprised at just how many kids lived here.
Then I sent them to the coal mines. Read the rest of this entry »
RPS Feature Choking out Dorian Gray
Join Ella McConnell for Waifu Material, a 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: discussion of yet more sketchy consent stuff.]
When I first got my hands on OZMAFIA!!, I was unconvinced it’d take me as long to finish as people suggested. Reviews on Steam said the main route alone could take 20 to 30 hours, with full completion clocking in at over 50 hours for some. I laughed. Clearly they were just slow, especially as the game has the visual novel staple skip button (which lets you speed through text you’ve already read and quickly reach the points where you make choices that cause the narrative to branch).
They were not slow.
RPS Feature Demon Keeper
Lobotomy Corporation is an extremely simple game that’s also about as complicated as building a microwave from scratch. This supernatural research and containment sim straddles that treacherously thin line between brilliance and disaster, which is of course where all the most interesting games end up.
Read the rest of this entry »
RPS Feature Picgrumpy
Pivross is a 3D picross game, which is – and someone will correct me if I’m wrong – the first of its type on PC. That is what piqued my interest. It is, unfortunately, not nearly as good as it needs to be. But then again, the first fifth is free, so you can find out for yourself without risk.
Read the rest of this entry »
RPS Feature Marie Maisonette
Exploring an old room, putting memories together, trying to piece together a narrative – it’s a theme we’ve seen a few times of late, and it’s one that has to be handled carefully and meticulously. So it’s rather a pleasure to report that’s exactly the case for the entirely free Marie’s Room, a short exploration game set primarily in a single bedroom. Read the rest of this entry »
RPS Feature Contesting crazy paving in a cocked hat
Shenandoah Studio are anti-hexites and proud of it. Equilateral, equiangular, six-sided polygons aren’t common on their battlefields. They prefer more misshapen shapes – the squashed pentagon, the leaning lozenge, the skewed quadrilateral with one wiggly, dog-eared edge. The crazy paving makes for attractive maps but as I’ve discovered during my diverting but disappointingly smooth and brief March to Glory march to glory, creates problems too. Read the rest of this entry »
RPS Feature Tonedeaf in Vinland
A man finds a severed bull’s head and flees from the worms crawling in its rotten cranium. Dead in Vinland is a management/survival RPG in which you’re tasked with leading a family of exiled vikings as they attempt to keep themselves alive and sane in a strange new land. Strange is the operative word, and in between managing resources and relationships, you’ll be dealing with all kinds of oddities.
Sometimes it’s weird and wonderful, but sometimes it’s a low-brow parade of weak jokes that don’t fit the setting. Through it all, there are interesting choices to be made though.
RPS Feature Shipwreck
Premature Evaluation is the weekly column in which we explore the wilds of early access. This week, Fraser’s setting off in a rickety boat in Make Sail. It looks a bit like Wind Waker, but you get to build your own vessel. Sadly, it doesn’t talk.
Once a year, usually around the time of Gamescom, I slink off. I stop writing, disconnect from Twitter and flee to the coast of a sun-soaked country that I can comfortably sail around while sipping the cheapest gin and rum I can find. It’s what I look forward to most, every year, and when I return I’m always a more upbeat, raring-to-go kind of guy. It’s safe to say that I love sailing.
Make Sail has tested that love.
RPS Feature Brown study
How annoying. As Wikipedia is adamant Field Marshal Wavell didn’t dote on a Manx cat called Matilda during his time in North Africa, and the 1947 sidecar TT wasn’t won by Rommel’s twin sons riding a stripped-down, souped-up BMW R75, it looks like I’m going to have to introduce this week’s pieces on TT Isle of Man and Desert War 1940-42 with an admission that this week’s pieces on TT Isle of Man and Desert War 1940-42 have flip-all in common. Read the rest of this entry »
RPS Feature A crime against joysticks
There are two things a miniaturised version of gaming-centric 80s home computer the Commodore 64 needs to do above all else: 1) have a working keyboard 2) have a really good joystick.
RPS Feature How great is this escape?
At its very best, two player co-op game A Way Out explores a counterintuitive truth: that conflict is a necessary step towards good teamwork. It’s a prison break game about two men, Vincent and Leo, incarcerated in an American prison. Vincent is a cool-headed strategist who solves problems using his words rather than his fists, while Leo is a young hothead who would rather strike first and ask questions later.
The most remarkable thing about this second game from Josef Fares, writer/director of Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons, is how it encourages both participants to roleplay as those strong personalities. Vincent and Leo are set in stone; unlike in games such as Telltale’s The Walking Dead, you cannot affect their character through in-game choices. You and another player surrender to the narrative, while the game aims to involve you through action rather than intent. It’s a game that sacrifices freedom for character work. Here’s wot I think.
RPS Feature Groundhog Minute
Minit is that most rare of joyful things: A really good idea, done really well.
In Minit you play a little bird-like pixel character who lives in a black and white pixel world, and is cursed with only ever living for a single minute. And yet despite this limitation, it presents a little RPG. HOW?! you ask, in your belligerent way. Hush, I shall tell you. Read the rest of this entry »
RPS Feature Freedom, at a price
Ah, a new Far Cry has appeared! Having torn up the Himalayas, Polynesia, Central Africa and The Past, in Far Cry 5 Ubisoft’s lidlessly searing eye for endless open-world violence has turned to the USA. Specifically, we’re in Montana, where Ubisoft have conjured a new set of colourfully monologuing nemeses who toy with you as they enact their Bad Plans while you try to ignore them so you can get on with the important business of hanging out with animal pals. Which particular brand of environment and Kurtz-like do we get this time? Let’s find out.
RPS Feature Fun combat, empty story
Having been supplied code for Far Cry 5 late, I haven’t yet had time to play enough to write the full Wot I Think, but since it’s out today, I thought I’d give you a whiff of its flavour so far. (tl;dr: It’s mostly pine needles and burning flesh.)
After 9 hours and 15 minutes of Far Cry 5, I’ve killed 912 enemies. That’s 1.6 kills a minute, including cutscenes and wandering plains, forests and mountains of Hope County, Montana. It even includes a spot of salmon fishing. There is a lot of killing in Far Cry 5, which is a game that does not like to leave you alone for a goddamned minute. Read the rest of this entry »
RPS Feature Heavy metal
The heavy metal thunderdome that is World of Tanks has finally hit 1.0, heralded by the sound of explosive shells and colliding war machines. It’s not 1.0 in a conventional sense, but it does give us the excuse to finally give it the ol’ review treatment. Here’s wot I think, eight years late. Read the rest of this entry »
RPS Feature A failure, a triumph
On the one hand, Sea of Thieves is a game so empty that recommending it feels like a dereliction of duty. On the other hand, I just chased down a man who killed me and threw a bucket of my own grog-induced vomit over him by way of revenge.
It’s the small things like that that can make Sea of Thieves triumphant, which is just as well, seeing as there’s just an empty mass of very pretty water where the big things should be. Read the rest of this entry »
RPS Feature Never more than the sum of its parts
Most RPGs cast you as an intrepid interloper, the Only One Who Can Help a series of desperate quest-givers beset by increasingly elaborate problems. Personally, I’ve gotten a little sick of piloting a party of unlikely heroes as they roam from ruined land to ruined land in search of these conundrums, slaying worthy foes and draining tombs of ancient loot. When the scourge of the realm falls at my feet and the last coins of its horde lie safely in my pocket, I find myself wondering: should I really leave matters in the hands of the feckless village chief who can’t even summon up the will to leave his house and take care of the slime-infested meadow over the hill? Well, probably not, but I don’t get a choice. The mysteries of government and management aren’t my field, and besides, there’s a Big Bad lurking over the mountains who’s plotting to blast everything to smithereens unless we get a move on.
RPS Feature Crowd pleaser
Premature Evaluation is the weekly column in which we explore the wilds of early access. This week, Fraser is trying to put on a good show in chilly Canadian battle royale romp, Darwin Project. Are you not entertained?
I want every game to be good, but I confess that I was ready to hate Darwin Project. See, it’s unashamedly a game for streamers and their hungry audiences. Even the main menu, where the ability to link your Twitch or Mixer account is the most prominent option, makes this abundantly clear. Audience participation is built into the very fabric of the game, to the point where players become entertainers. Colour me surprised, then, that not only do I like it, I like it in part because of its pandering to video boys and girls.