No matter all this griping, nothing should take away from the most important thing: that this preserves three vitally important games from gaming history—in their original form—for at least another few years. The new art and controls can be switched off, meaning you’ve got those classic games on your latest console, and that’s not to be sniffed at. Every other aspect, however: sniff away.
Dave The Diver very much deserves the enormous success it’s received in its first month, selling over a million copies, and hopefully making developers Mintrocket enormously rich. They’ve created something really special, an RPG-meets-Diner Dash-meets gentle SCUBA sim, that manages to feel utterly crammed to the gills with things to do, yet joyfully relaxing to play.
That it’s not a very good game, and one that desperately needed a lot more development before this seemingly premature release, will matter almost not at all. It’s stunningly pretty, it lets you make friends with the Creepers, and the cutscenes are brilliant. And it matches those new pyjamas. Should they ever finish Minecraft Legends, allowing you to instantly gather your spawned troops from anywhere, fixing the atrocious UI, giving your units some vestiges of pathfinding, and hugely increasing the mission variation, I think it could be a great place.
In fact, the whole game is a tremendously satisfying experience. From the wonderful alien design, to the slow-burning storyline and its blank-faced staring astronaut, to the satisfying array of weapons, and perhaps most importantly, to the way the statues crumble when you hit them, this is something utterly solid, and eternally compelling. And unless my rig proves a fluke, finally a console-to-PC port to celebrate on day one.
I disliked Season’s belief in its own profundity. Its mysticism felt like cod-Buddhist leftovers, while its nonchalant efficacy of prayer undermined its attempts at agnostic universalism, all crushed under the weight of the sheer banality of all your actions being delivered as if creating a vital tome of historical significance.
I feel like Scarlet Hollow is a demonstration of how the format for the visual novel is just a foundation on which so much greater can be built. While the screenshots may look like a standard VN, the game itself is vastly more, not just with its RPG-like systems and ridiculously complex balancing of choices, but the far greater sense of scale, time, and significance. I’ve been blown away by it all over again.
This is a splendid creation, superbly written, with spellbinding art, and a unique approach to telling a story. It’s also a fascinating exploration of grief, loss, and more than anything else, how we react to change. That and secret underground organizations and their evil plans to control towns through fertilizer production.
This is tremendous stuff, a game that could absolutely have been released alongside Raven Software’s mid-90s fantasy shooters and held up. (Although people would have been mystified by the lighting tech.) Admittedly, you can get Hexen for a buck-fifty right now, but there’s a good chance you already did. Hands Of Necromancy is a welcome addition to that fold, and developers HON Team have become a name to follow.
There’s a co-op mode, even, so you can be trapped in these escape rooms with a chum, which sounds absolutely fantastic. But on my own, Escape Simulator offers a far more tangible sense of the feeling of playing a real-world escape room, one spaceship aside, keeping things within the realms of possibility. Ooh I can’t wait for that DLC.
This was a risky project, given the automatic assumptions someone might make about a game where dating and invading are conflated. Cast aside all those concerns, because this is a game where consent is primary, yet nonsense is overwhelmingly more important. It’s so funny that this is so lovely, and it’s lovely that this is so funny.
Torchlight III feels an awful lot like what it is: a free-to-play multiplayer game that thought better of itself, and decided to become a proper full-price microtransaction-free primarily solo release. If I didn’t already know the path it had taken, I’d have spent my entire time playing the game being gnawed at by wondering just what it was that made it all feel so off.
To me it feels far more like an expansion pack than a whole new game, slightly improving the cutesy graphics and adding in a couple of extra construction materials, but even then it all overlaps a little too closely with the original. A sequel to a game that already looked awfully similar to another series seems like something that should have iterated a great deal further by now. I certainly recommend checking out people’s most elaborate and daft bridges on YouTube – as for creating them yourself, it’s harder to get excited about.
A visually stunning game, belying its origins as a creation of two animators, alongside some delightful writing, weaving a complexity of narrative that completely surprised me. But one that offers the player far too little actual investigating, and in the end, far too much tiresome wandering.