Posts Tagged ‘review’

Wot I Think: The Darkside Detective

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Officer Dooley is the best point and click character I’ve met in ages, and I say that having thoroughly enjoyed the company of Thimbleweed Park’s misfits and misanthropes. Dooley is on a different level though. Maybe it’s that he’s unvoiced and yet so smartly written that I can hear his every word, or maybe it’s that he’s secretly the world’s laziest anarchist trapped inside the uniform of a policeman.

He’s the best thing about The Darkside Detective [official site], a small but perfectly formed paranormal adventure that is full of good things.

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Wot I Think: Pyre

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A purgatorial fantasy sport is not the direction I expected Supergiant Games, creators of Bastion and Transistor, to go with their next game. Then again, expectations seem increasingly useless when it comes to a studio such as this. Pyre [official site] is set in a world where literacy is banned and punishable by exile – banishment to a dangerous land called the Downside, cut off from the home realm of the Commonwealth. This underworld is where you find yourself. But you soon make new friends and, to earn your freedom, you start to compete in a quasi-religious tournament of orb-throwing and goal-scoring.

The sport of Pyreball itself has caused me to curse and sigh many times, but I can’t accuse it of being uninventive. That goes double for the story of this band of exile-sinners, told through visual novel-style interjections and dialogue choices. It’s a great story. One I often wish didn’t have fantasy netball clinging to it.

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Wot I Think: Solstice Chronicles: MIA

I have a fairly sketchy history of what, for want of a proper genre name, we’ll call Alien Breed-like games. They’re top-down or isometric shooters in which you contend with onslaughts of skittery or lumbery alien enemies, while hoovering up weapons and ammo and dashing about opening doors. They peaked, I think it’s fair to say, with Frozenbyte’s Shadowgrounds and Shadowgrounds: Survivor, and Valve’s freebie Alien Swarm in 2010 gave us the best co-op incarnation of the form. But despite being able to pluck out examples from various years (not least Sigma Team’s series of Alien Shooter and Zombie Shooter series spanning a decade of releases) it still seems a very under-served format, not least in terms of experimentation and evolution.

Solstice Chronicles: MIA [official site] arrives to offer an attempt at the former, but unfortunately doesn’t much succeed at the latter.

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Premature Evaluation – Next Day: Survival

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Every week we abandon Brendan to the post-apocalyptic wastes of early access. This time, the cold, hard life of Next Day: Survival [official site]

I found my new friend sitting in a car outside the Safe Zone compound. The car was broken down and stationary, but he sat behind the wheel anyway. He was making his own speedy car noises and engine sounds.

“Brrrrrrr-brm-brrrrrrrrr. Brrr-brr-brrrrrrrvvvv!”

I stepped in front of the immobile vehicle, wearing nothing but the boxer shorts and t-shirt that accompanied me into this world. I peered through the windshield to get a closer look at the man inside, pretending to drive.

“Oh shit!” he shouted “A pedestrian!”
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Wot I Think: The Automatician

Hyperbolic responses to you successfully completing a challenge are a perennial issue in puzzle games. When it comes to no-frills mobile puzzling, and for no sensible reason it throws up the word “OUTSTANDING!” at you no matter how tricky the conundrum, it’s pleasantly silly. But when a game tries to add an element of narrative to the situation, where characters fall over themselves to bestow you with accolades on clicking through a mundane brain-teaser with little effort. “Astonishing!” they ejaculate after you turn all three lights green or whatmaybe. “You truly are the chosen one! Have my firstborn!” It starts to feel more than a little disingenuous. It is unfortunate that such nonsense runs through the core of The Automatician [official site]. It doesn’t help that the main puzzle idea itself just isn’t that good. Read the rest of this entry »

Wot I Think: The End Is Nigh

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You can’t walljump. For me, this is what defines The End Is Nigh [official site], the hardcore platformer from Edmund McMillen and Tyler Glaiel. McMillen’s last co-created platformer was Super Meat Boy, a game that made simply moving left and right a kinetic joy. The End Is Nigh is by comparison a slower but no less difficult game. Read the rest of this entry »

Wot I Think: Kingsway

Goodness me, Kingsway [official site] is clever. It’s clever in so, so many ways. It’s clever in its absolutely spectacular presentation, but it’s far too clever to let that just be a gimmick – its peculiar appearance as a mid-90s Windows desktop could so easily have been a cute idea that hid an ordinary roguelite RPG, but instead it so very brilliantly influences how you play, and indeed the foibles of such an interface become crucial to how you experience it. It’s also really bloody tough. Here’s wot I think: Read the rest of this entry »

Wot I Think: Unturned

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I’ve been wondering for a while what kinds of games kids who grew up playing Minecraft and Roblox would go on to make for themselves. This is a generation that’s been immersed in modding culture and open objectives since it could grasp a mouse, and I’m fascinated to see how that might have formed new attitudes to games in general.

One particular answer is Unturned [official site], a free-to-play Day-Glo take on DayZ. Made by a Canadian school student, it’s just come out of Early Access, where it attracted nearly 25 million players. But was that simply because it’s free, or is there more to uncover in Unturned? Here’s wot I think. Read the rest of this entry »

Wot I Think: Yonder – The Cloud Catcher Chronicles

Ignore the silly name, Yonder: The Cloud Catcher Chronicles [official site] is pretty special. A combat-free, risk-free game of exploration and meandering, farming and cat-gathering, questing and lazily fishing. Here’s wot I think: Read the rest of this entry »

Wot I Think: Serial Cleaner

I don’t like it when I don’t know if I like something or not. After this many years of wibbling about games, I feel as though my Iron Hammer Of Judgement should be absolute. With 70s-styled stealth puzzle game Serial Cleaner [official site], though, I am confounded. Time and again, I fire it up and my brain clearly tells me “yeah, I really dig this”, but a few minutes later I’ve alt-F4ed right outta Dodge and am busy making a colleague endure my shower of invective about the game.

I tried to come up with a more insightful way of putting this, but all I’ve ended up with is this: Serial Cleaner is a really good game put inside the shell of a bad one. Or maybe vice-versa. Read the rest of this entry »

Premature Evaluation: Sælig

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Every week we send Brendan into the dark age of early access. This time, the old English village life of Sælig [Steam page]

Sælig, we are told at the beginning of this game, is an old English word that means “blessed, fortunate, prosperous, happy”. All fine goals in the harsh world of the dark ages, where the best you can hope for is a good fire and a full belly. But by the end of my brief time with this Anglo-Saxon household management sim, I would be none of these things. I would be “annoyed, discontent, bored, cheerless”. To keep up the old English, I would be wansælig.
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Wot I Think – Elder Scrolls: Legends

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It’s a card game! As discussed on this week’s podcast, I’ve been somehow saddled with the reputation of being “the collectible cards game guy” at RPS. This is partly my own fault due to my Duelyst-ing but also partly due to my fellow journos typecasting me, like some kind of grubby-fingered Bryan Cranston. This isn’t the first time this has happened. Remember when I became “the tanks guy” because I once asked too many questions about tanks?
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Wot I Think: thievery digital boardgame Antihero

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The quintessential element of boardgaming, I would argue, is the OH YOU BASTARD moment. When your world falls apart because long-brewed plans are coldly destroyed by another player’s action that you never saw coming. When, just for a blood-red second, you genuinely wish sudden death upon them.

Sure, multiplayer videogames frequently involve such emotions, but there’s a more transitory quality to them – you lost that round, that base got swiped, that idiot shot you in the back of the head. You move onto some other priority almost immediately. Turn-based strategy games are closer, but even then they generally work on such a scale that you’ve got something else to focus on when disaster strikes.

Boardgames, often briefer, often dependent on one core plan, will rip your heart out. Antihero [official site]? Yeah, that does that. Even if you’re playing it on your own. Read the rest of this entry »

Wot I Think: Black The Fall

In development for quite a while, Black The Fall [official site] meandered through Early Access (then removed), Kickstarter, and Square Enix’s Collective indie publishing label. And today it’s finally out. But can it survive its inevitable comparisons to Limbo and Inside? Here’s wot I think: Read the rest of this entry »

Premature Evaluation: Starship Theory

Every week we cast Brendan adrift in the black void of early access. This time, the bumbling spaceship management of Starship Theory [Steam page]

Everything is on fire, all the time. This is the fourth spaceship I’ve cobbled together out of a cramped and ill-equipped escape pod and it’s the fourth ship to die from severe internal burns. All the crew members are also dead, except one, who I don’t even bother to watch blowing up with the vessel. I quit out to start a new game before it even comes to that. I know where this story is going.

Starship Theory is difficult, and not currently in a good way. It’s tight-fisted, unbalanced, slow-moving and infested with menus. You’ll probably love it, because you’re a masochist. I’m not loving it.
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Wot I Think: Diablo III – Rise of the Necromancer

I’ll be honest, I couldn’t really see a space in Diablo III for a Necromancer. Another class that’s based on raising gross minions and smashing up mobs from afar? The Witch Doctor seemed to have that amply covered, commanding zombie dogs, harvesting souls and erupting towers of zombies from the ground.

Oh but it’s great to be completely wrong. I’ve been having a wonderful time, raising the dead and casting dark curses. Here’s wot I think. Read the rest of this entry »

Premature Evaluation: Worlds Adrift

Every week we launch Brendan into the early access stratosphere to see if he can find gems among the clouds. This time, the floating islands and airship building of sandbox MMO Worlds Adrift [official site]

I fell off my sky boat. I’m now falling through the clouds wondering if this world has a bottom – a large lava pit or possibly a vast, endless ocean – and also: how long will it take to arrive there? I say “fell”. In fact, I was forcefully ejected from my ship – the Flabbergaster – by some kind of violent spasm of the game’s inner workings. This isn’t the first time I’ve died to a janky accident of the overzealous physics engine, nor is it the most embarrassing. That honour is reserved for the time I crafted a plank of wood and it landed awkwardly on my own head. It might be difficult to describe the merits of this crafting-heavy multiplayer world while the wind rushes so mercilessly around me but I’ll try, because it has many, despite the jank.
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Secret World Legends Impressions – free and easy

The Secret World was always a game struggling to crawl out from under the weight of its own genre. Many have attempted to build a story-led MMO – and it’s a noble pursuit – but no one has ever quite figured out how to do it, not least because an MMO is a terrible setting in which to tell a story. The Secret World got the closest so far. The intricately woven tale of conspiracy upon conspiracy was a huge hook when the game first released five years ago, and some could forgive the janky grindy weirdness of its online necessities to enjoy a setting and quest style not seen before in the genre. Will more people learn to see past the structural faults now, with its free-to-play reboot as Secret World Legends [official site]? Read the rest of this entry »

Wot I Think: Nex Machina

I can’t think of a better collaboration than the one that’s brought Nex Machina [official site] to life. The blindingly-fast twin-stick shooter is the spawn of Resogun developer Housemarque and the creator of the entire genre, Eugene Jarvis. It has a great deal to live up to, then, and the legacy of Robotron, Smash TV and Resogun hovering over it. Clearly the pair were up to the challenge.

All of the above games are inside Nex Machina. They are in both the foundations and the bricks — the teeming swarms of robots, the linked rooms, even the voxels. Combined, however, the construct something new; something that’s full of its own tricks and quirks, challenges and surprises. Read the rest of this entry »

Wot I Think: psychological investigation FPS Get Even

“Style over substance” is traditionally considered a negative epithet, but in Get Even‘s case it succeeds precisely because of surface-level showiness. What it does with paranoid mood, cut-up storytelling and most of all its nightmare-fuel sound design absolutely excuses a central plot that plays out like Days Of Our Lives doing a cyberpunk episode.

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