Achievements and Trophies can tell you a lot about a game. They can inform us of how people played a game, or at what point they started to give up. In the case of The Waylanders however, the Steam Achievements paint a damaging picture of just how quickly players gave up on it. An Achievement for completing a story mission, an unavoidable Achievement earned a mere hour or two into the game, lists a measly 17.6% of players have got it. That number gets almost halved for the next story achievement, just 8.1% at the time of writing this. And the Achievement for reaching level 3, which doesn’t take long, is just 2.9%.
Not For Broadcast is one of the most interesting and unique games I’ve played in a very long time. This little indie game puts you behind the scenes of the Nightly National News program, cutting between camera’s, censoring anything naughty and ensuring a smooth show so that leading news anchor Jeremy Donaldson can deliver the headlines to the nation. Amidst Not For Broadcast’s crazier moments is a story of people, governments, propaganda, the power that media wields and tough choices. Despite some issues, this is one broadcast you don’t want to miss because it might just end up being your game of the year.
The Everest 5.1 surround sound is the latest product from Majority, the relatively small audio company that recently sent me their M40 speakers which I really liked despite a couple of negatives. The Everest is a 300w soundbar boasting Dolby Digital designed to fit under your TV or monitor, and its party trick is that it comes with two wireless speakers to provide surround sound to help immerse you in games, music and movies, plus a chunky wireless subwoofer. That’s a tempting package, especially if, like me, your setup is in a small room where space is at a premium. However, it all comes at a reasonably hefty price of around £230. That’s, like, at least two bags of sweets! So, is the Majority Everest worth that many bags of sweets, or like climbing the mountain itself ,should you just not bother and stuff your face with Jelly Babies instead?
Waking up in a small shed with no pants on is a worryingly familiar scene, but thankfully this time it’s in a videogame. In this instance, I’m Nobody, a white humanoid thing with black, empty eye-sockets and a cliche case of amnesia. As the helpful woman outside the shed points out, however, amnesia is no excuse for the lack of underwear. I’m inclined to agree. Unfortunately, Nobody seems to be the only one saving this world from the evil Calamity which is in the process of covering everything in some hideous goop. Armed with nothing but a wand that lets him change forms (and still no pants) it’s up to Nobody to save the day, get his memories back, figure out where the great wizard has gone and destroy the calamity.
Karen Traviss penned the story of Gears of War 3 which wrapped up the original trilogy in epic fashion and then when on to write a sizable chunk of the official novels, expanding on the universe in numerous ways. She has 5 books to her name before the series went on hiatus along with the games. Her books are typically seen as the top of the totem pole and have done immeasurable work in making Gears of War what it is today. Now that Gears is firmly back on our screens the books have made a comeback as well, with Jason Hough authoring two new titles. This is Michael Stackpole’s debut Gears novel, having formerly written works in other universes such as Star Trek. He’s got some big shoes to fill, because by licensed book standards and just by book standards in general, Karen Traviss was a strong author. So how does Michael stack up, and where do the books go from here?
I’m on a spaceship with a talking tree, a creature that most definitely isn’t a raccoon and a space Llama. In any other game this could be considered weird, but in Guardians of the Galaxy, it’s just a Monday. Assuming they have Mondays in space. It was never brought up. The point is, the Guardians of the Galaxy are one of the strangest groups in comic books, and until Marvel turned them into a household name in 2014 they were a relatively unknown bunch of misfits that dealt in some of the weirdest aspects of the Marvel universe. So a videogame based on their antics sounds like a perfect fit. We deal in weird shit all the time. How does their first foray into games hold up?
Halo Infinite certainly opens with a bang, leaping straight into a cinematic that picks up exactly where Halo 5 left us during its cliffhanger ending. We witness the UNSC Infinity being destroyed at the hands of the Banished, while the Master Chief is systematically picked apart by the hulking form of Atriox, a character first introduced in Halo Wars 2. As opening sequences go it’s definitely explosive and attention-grabbing, but it’s also the first example of how Infinite can feel rushed and at odds with itself; you never get to take control of the Chief and join the fight for the Infinity. The destruction of the Infinity, a major part of the Halo lore, is glossed over in a brief cutscene, the death of its crew barely shown. There was a perfect opportunity to create a level built around the desperate fight to save the ship and the inevitable loss you would have to suffer at the hands of Atriox. For some reason, however, 343 opt to tell the players what happened and rarely show, a theme that permeates the entirety of Halo Infinite.
German developer Monokel are the new kids on the block, entering the fray with their first project, White Shadows. These are probably the game’s I hate reviewing the most because criticising any new developer trying to enter the scene with something cool and different feels like running up to a child and punching them in the kidney. But as I always I write reviews with the player in mind, not the developer. White Shadows is certainly unique and a hell of a debut for a new company in many regards. It shows incredible artistic strength. The gameplay just isn’t up to par, however. So let’s jump into this.
Microsoft did us all a solid by dropping Halo: Infinite’s free-to-play multiplayer like a freaking ODST from the sky when we weren’t expecting it. It was a big-boy play by Microsoft and was instantly rewarded by a tidal wave of people downloading and jumping into what many consider to be the year’s biggest release. To the credit of Microsoft and 343 everything held up well and Halo: Infinite’s launch wasn’t plagued by the server crashes, bugs and glitches that most other launches these days get hit by. And yes, I’m looking directly at Battlefield 2032 as I type this. A few weeks on and just days ahead of the Halo: Infinite campaign launching, I’m here to review the multiplayer. Am I late to the party? Yup, but to be perfectly honest, that’s because I’ve been playing Halo: Infinite and couldn’t be arsed to write this when I could be nailing headshots like I nailed your mum. Oh God, this game brings out the teenager in me.
Indie games are the home of some of the best puzzle-based experiences around because they are willing to take unique, interesting ideas and run with them, or in some cases roll with them. That’s Tandem: A Tale of Shadows in a nutshell. The opening cutscene lays down the basis of this weird story: little Emma is intrigued by the disappearance of Thomas Kane, the only son of the famed Kane Illusionists who disappeared a decade prior. Scotland Yard have failed entirely to penetrate the twisted Kane mansion which houses all manner of oddities. On her way to the gothic abode a teddy bear falls from a speeding carriage, and to little Emma’s surprise, the bear immediately jumps up and pursues the runaway vehicle. Together, Emma and Fenton the teddy enter the mysterious home of the Kane’s and wind up working in tandem to solve the numerous puzzles that hide dark secrets.