Sisyphus in space
My stint as the governor of an off-world colony has gone a bit pear-shaped. I’ve got aliens to worry about, toxic fumes are floating in from the east, lightning has set fire to my farms and shards are falling from the heavens, smashing into my vulnerable habitats. If that’s not enough of a pain in the arse, protesters have taken to the streets, complete with massive holographic slogans. Playing Aven Colony [official site] is like trying to make a house of cards next to an open window.
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Good but not great
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 »
A Day-Glo DayZ
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 »
Breath Of The Tamed
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 »
What Mr. Wolf Did In 1971
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 »
It's Hearthstone meets another Hearthstone
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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Elegant competitive burglarly
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 »
Best when outside, not Inside
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 »
"An enormous pleasure"
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 »
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 »
A true original
“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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A turducken of cruelty
The Crimson Court [official site] has transformed Darkest Dungeon into a turducken of cruelty. Every layer of the tactical RPG is now laced with poison and jam-packed with barbs that pierce and tear with every bite. What was already an extremely challenging game has become considerably harsher and unyielding, so much so that even gluttons for punishment may balk at the prospect of fighting the new vampiric menace.
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Tense, tactical, and rough
As soon as I peek out over the wall, bullets zip past my head and ricochet off the bricks around me. I duck back down, my screen blurring. I’m pinned down. That is, until the artillery comes down on the enemy trench, its screeches echoed by the cries of the Americans caught in the blasts. I pop my head back up to have a look at the light show and my screen turns black. A second later the kill feed updates. I was shot in the head, apparently.
This ends up happening a lot in Rising Storm 2: Vietnam [official site]. The original Rising Storm, a spinoff from Tripwire’s Red Orchestra 2: Heroes of Stalingrad, was an unforgiving shooter and this is no different. Being a beginner in this game is a struggle. You’ll die in one shot, often from an unseen enemy. You’ll kill teammates by accident and get shouted at in chat. But if you’re willing to get over the initial bumps and you’re happy to play it the way it’s supposed to be played, then the payoff is more than worth it. Read the rest of this entry »
An automotive expert reviews
This is my first time contributing to RPS, so I’m going to start out with a little (pertinent) information: I’ve driven a lot of cars. As an automotive journalist I’ve sat behind the wheels of everything from the aggressively unremarkable Dodge Dart to brilliant machines like the Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG Black Series, the Subaru WRX STi, the Audi R8 V10, a rally-prepped Ford Fiesta, and even a pair of formula cars. I’m pretty quick on tarmac.
Dirt 4 isn’t about tarmac, so I knew it would be a learning experience. In fact, I drove that Fiesta I mentioned a moment ago about 100 meters onto a rally stage, with Tim O’Neil and Ken Block on board, before I valiantly steered it into a ditch. Once I got it out of the ditch and en route again I made it down another half of the stage before reacquainting myself with the ditch. I swore to do better next time, but next time never came.
“Close enough”, I thought when I got this assignment, so I set up my sim gear and got to racing. Read the rest of this entry »
A space dungeon crawler
StarCrawlers [official site] is a game about punks and rebels – people eking out a living on the edge of space by stealing, smuggling and doing odd jobs for the shady corporate entities that run the galaxy. It’s cyberpunk, but with the soul of Firefly and the mechanics of Eye of the Beholder. These different inspirations fit together neatly, rather than competing, resulting in a cohesive and ambitious party-based dungeon-crawler. Read the rest of this entry »
Many reasons to Rime
A third-person exploration game that eschews combat to finally prove Tomb Raider never needed the guns. RiME [official site] is a beautiful, magical game – here’s wot I think: Read the rest of this entry »