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.
Jurassic Park: Evolution 2 was ultimately a charming but slow management game that suffered from a lack of depth. The magic of breeding and looking after massive dinosaurs gave way to fairly bog-standard gameplay interspersed with moments of chaos when a T-rex broke free and ate a few paying customers. When Frontier announced a sequel I was excited to see if they could fulfil all the potential the original had of being a casual but hugely entertaining sim-park title. As evolutions go, this one has a few random mutations that need to be removed from the genome if there’s going to be a third game, but overall it’s a decent improvement. It’s bigger, it’s meatier, it’s toothier. If the first game was the classic T-rex, this is the Indominus Rex. Welcome, to Jurassic World: Evolution 2.
Halloween may have already passed in a sugar-induced blur but that doesn’t mean I can’t talk about spooky stuff, right? Sunshine Manor is actually a prequel to 2016’s Sunshine Camp, although you don’t need to have played that. It has all the hallmarks of a creepy good time: a weird mansion, a mystery to solve, some demons and even a cult! It’s all wrapped up in a rather nice visual style, too, that harkens back to the 8-bit days. Hell, it even has a dog you can pet! What more could you possibly want?
So many games these days release broken or have their review code held back until the very last minute because the developers and the publisher aren’t confident about the reception. It’s so refreshing when indie developers come along and are proud and confident of their work. So confident, in fact, that Exor Studios have a demo of The Riftbreaker available to play, plus the Prologue. That confidence is well-founded, though, because while The Riftbreaker does have some problems it’s also a great blending of genres, combining base-building and some good ‘ol fashioned shootin’.
Massive. Daunting. Difficult. Deep. Complex. Time-consuming. Confusing. Rewarding. Satisfying. Slog. These are just a small selection of the words that could be used to describe Pathfinder: Wrath of the Righteous. This mammoth RPG is based on the pen and paper Pathfinder system, and is a sequel to Pathfinder: Kingmaker, a game I’m sad to say I missed. I’m sad to say it because if Wrath of the Righteous is anything to go by, I missed something special. While it does have some issues, there’s no doubt that Owlcat have forged something awesome.
Probably my favourite moment in UnMetal came when sneaking through a screen full of sleeping guard dogs. My stench was visibly wafting across the screen, alternating between going straight up and straight down. The goal was, of course, to carefully weave through the deadly mutts without my horrific, sewer-drenched clothes waking them up. But on my second attempt, I thought of something: I went to the inventory and equipped the thermal suit I had previously used to pass by thermal sensors. To my surprise and delight, the suit contained my reek and I was able to amble through the dogs. Was this just some bug, or had the lone developer really considered that I might stick the suit on? I think it’s the latter, because this is a seriously well-designed game.
As someone who was raised by a biker and who religiously watches MotoGP, SBK and WSBK, the influx of two-wheeled racing games has been fantastic. This time its developer Raceward Studio rolling onto the grid and looking to pick up a win with the poorly named RiMS Racing, which sounds awfully close to some unspeakable act. With its stated goal of being, “The first motorcycling simulation that combines a realistic riding challenge with engineering and mechanics” how does RiMS Racing fare on the track and in the garage?
These days it’s like you can’t walk down the street without tripping over a bunch of cyberpunk games, from the high-profile cock-ups to a host of indie games that range in quality and scope. Foreclosed is the latest cyberpunk game stepping up, hoping that it’s mix of third-person shooting and stealth, along with a striking art style, will be enough to grab your attention. It’s certainly releasing at the right time – we’re in a bit of a drought when it comes to big, shiny new games, giving the small stuff a chance to shine. But I’m saddened to report that Foreclosed suffers from good ideas but crappy execution.
I do love a quirky concept. I’m a sucker for the kind of premise that someone dreams up after downing 9-pints and then finding a pen and a napkin. In the case of Trigger Witch, these witches have ditched fireballs and pulling cute rabbits out of hats for something far better: AK-47s. Nothing can make a problem vanish quicker than a hail of bullets, and so now witches accept firearms from the strange Ordinance Rift and become members of The Clip. Their old traditions and their magic fading into the past, they now worship at the alter of gunpowder.
Sometimes I get a moment where I stop and think, yeah, this is what VR was made for. This is what I envisioned when virtual reality became reality. I’m glad to report that Eternal Starlight VR evoked that moment and just kept on evoking it. Somewhere inside me a tiny, geeky kid who has watched every season of The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine and Voyager numerous times over is screaming in joy. This real-time strategy game uses the unique power of VR brilliantly, letting you lord it over a small fleet of ships. Let me tell you why Eternal Starlight VR might be your next reason to strap on a headset.