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.
It’s another episode of the podcast that has absolutely zero consistent release schedule. This time I cover the games I’m playing plus some news, so here the notes I take and then use when recording and the podcast itself.
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.
Pathfinder: Wrath of the Righteous beings with a daunting boss fight, the kind that makes mere mortals tremble in their boots. I’m not talking about some hulking beast, although one does turn up quite quickly – I’m talking about bewildering and terrifying character creation system with its legions of numbers and arcane terms. By the time the game starts proper I already feel like I’ve had my head kicked in by some demonic foe. In the game’s defence it explains everything in detail, it’s just that to a Pathfinder noob like me those details might as well be written in Latin. While the visual customization is quite limited, there’s approximately 25 different classes, along with sub-classes. There’s tons of feats and skills and abilities to choose from. In short, this CRPG where you control a party of six has a lot going on and is probably only going to be for the kind of people who can invest dozens and dozens of hours into playing it.
It’d be easy to recommend jumping into DOOM Eternal, the 2020 sequel to the 2016 reboot that amps up the action to even more insane levels and complicates the gameplay mechanics. Arguably, it’s the better game, and yet I can’t help but think there’s something a little more pure about DOOM 2016. And anyway, they’re both on Game Pass so why not start at the beginning?
The latest episode of my podcast is live, and you can listen to it below!
And like last time, here’s the script I used for the whole show. Sometimes I follow it closely, sometimes I don’t. It’s been changed around for reading purposes, but is otherwise raw, including any spelling mistakes and stuff like that