Posts Tagged ‘review’

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: Kingdom Come – Deliverance

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“Elder Scrolls without the magic,” is the elevator pitch for Warhorse’s historical RPG Kingdom Come: Deliverance, but magic is a relative term – it all depends on what you’re used to. The game’s stringent recreation of alchemy may seem downright paranormal, for example, if you’re used to the streamlined, fire-and-forget approach of a game like Skyrim.

Given how many dungeons, dragons and mages RPGs tend to contain, Kingdom Come’s strictly historical approach often seems more fantastical and mysterious than its peers. That mostly helped me to make my way through this open world RPG with a spring in my step, even when bugs and crashes threatened to spoil the experience, and the story fell flat and the sidequests became repetitive.

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Wot I Think: Rust

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“Here, have some arms”.

I’ve been alive for about 2 minutes, and the first player I’ve met in Rust has just chucked a pair of severed human arms at my feet.

“I found them on a corpse just over there. I…may have killed him. But then I wasn’t hungry, so you can have them. Here’s some animal fat too.”

Rust is a strange game.

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Wot I Think: Civilization 6 – Rise And Fall

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Civilization is at its worst when you’re winning. Success breeds complacency as you click the end turn button and acknowledge the news of great accomplishments with the practiced apathy of a regent signing papers on behalf of an infant king. There is an inevitability about your empire’s march through history and it’s easy to feel like a passive pawn.

Rise and Fall, the first major expansion for Civ VI, attempts to address this by introducing global crises, dark ages and citizen loyalty. It gets about half of the job spot on; the fall is much better than the rise.

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Wot I Think – Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age

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There’s a race of beings in Final Fantasy XII called the Bangaa. They have the snout of a crocodile, the squat of an ape and the arms of an entire gymnasium. Their ears are colourful leathery drapes, their lips adorned with piercings and trinkets. One of them, a shopkeeper called Migelo, resembles a rehabilitated Watto. Others are menacing bounty hunters. But they all have strange voices. Not otherworldly or fantastical, I mean strange in the sense that the voice actors can’t decide between a Scottish, Jamaican or West Country accent, and often speak as hackneyed villains. In a lot of ways, these scaly people encapsulate how I feel about this late-to-the-PC-party JRPG. They are both good-looking and incredulous. Flawed works of biological art that I can’t help but like, even when my better judgement often says “no”. Read the rest of this entry »

Wot I Think: Octogeddon

The creator of Plants Vs Zombies returns after nine years with Octogeddon – an arcade-inspired game of cephalopodic mayhem. One angry octopus takes on the world in his vengeful quest to destroy all that humans hold dear: large tourist attractions. Here’s wot I think. Read the rest of this entry »

Dandara puts a fresh new idea in very familiar settings

Dandara does something important. It has an original idea. And then very smartly puts that original idea inside lots of very familiar ones. It’s a metroidvania where you cannot walk, run, jump, let alone double-jump. Instead you move by zapping yourself from surface to surface, only able to stand on the white-marked ground, while the enemies have free reign. Read the rest of this entry »

Wot I Think: Dragon Ball FighterZ

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Dragon Ball was the hallmark of nearly every Thursday night when I was growing up, especially during the infamous run of Toonami on Cartoon Network. I never did keep up with the show’s evolving story, but I was always enamored by the way Goku and pals decimated the world around them as they fought at super Saiyan speed. And that’s the first thing that hit me when I jumped into Dragon Ball FighterZ – Cell flew directly into an asteroid behind him and blew it to bits after I landed a heavy kick directly to his gut. You beat up your opponent and watch the world crumble and collapse.

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Wot I Think: Lost Sphear

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Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: a ragtag group of orphans wake up one day and decide to slay some monsters, as all small-town gangs are wont to do. This is the opening of Lost Sphear. After bonking some bunny-mutants to death in a nearby field, they discover that their idyllic hometown has blinked out of existence, replaced by a gaping white void. But, soon enough, one of our heroes has a dream that reveals that he and he alone possesses mysterious power that can restore these “lost” objects through the power of memories. Together, the gang embark on a quest to save the world from ruin.

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Puzzlement is a puzzler that meddles with your brain

Puzzlement is a very minimalist puzzle game that packs quite a lot of clever into its little space. You play a very Pac-Man-esque 2D ghost, who wanders around inside/outside a 3D space collecting red blobs. This element of a 2D creature falling around within a 3D environment is completely bemusing, to the point where playing it for a little while is making just typing these letters in a straight line on this screen a confusing experience. Read the rest of this entry »

Wolfenstein 2’s DLC so far is characterful but perfunctory

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Note – this piece presumes familiarity with Wolfenstein 2’s entire plot, and as such contains some spoilers, though no specific character fates are discussed.

Out this week is part two of ‘The Freedom Chronicles’, a triptych of story-led DLC for last year’s pretty decent singleplayer shooter Wolfenstein 2: The New Colossus, giving us a pretty clear sense of what’s on offer from the season pass. (You can buy the episodes separately, but it ends up being 30% more expensive if you end up getting all of ’em that way). To whit, is it worth forking out for? In short: ehhhhhhhh.
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The more I play, the less I like Iconoclasts

So many people have been looking forward to Iconoclasts for so many years – we wrote our first impressions of it in 2011! – that it’s dangerous to venture any opinions into the fray.

But I fear no danger. Iconoclasts, properly released after all these years, is fine. Kinda. Read the rest of this entry »

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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