Silver Chains surprised me in many ways, I didn’t expect it to make me jump as much as it did and I didn’t expect the story to have me as engaged as I found myself. It may be a bit simple in terms of its gameplay, but if you think of it more like an exploration game, in the same vein of Edith Finch, rather than an out and out horror game, it makes more sense. The sound design is brilliant and there are some interesting monster designs to go along with those hideous sounds too. Silver Chains isn’t going to win any awards, as it doesn’t really do anything new or exciting, but that being said, it’s a solid horror title with a gripping story and some poo-your-pants moments. If you’re a fan of the genre, definitely give it a play, if not, it’s still worth your time for the story.
Until You Fall is simple but fun. It’s not going to win any awards but it’s certainly going to get you moving and feeling a bit awesome for a while. It does get a bit repetitive, so it’s not going to grab you for long periods at a time, but the sword fighting is enjoyable enough to make you want to come back for more. The worlds are pretty, if a little lacking in substance, and the structured and limited level design is something that holds the game back a little. Basically, if you’re in the mood to swing a couple of virtual melee weapons at big baddies, and who isn’t, then you’ll really enjoy Until You Fall.
If you’ve not played the previous games, Overcooked! All You Can Eat is the definitive version to pick up. Its updated visuals are beautiful and, with all the ingredients from the DLCs and main games mixed into one tasty concoction, it’s a no-brainer as to whether you should pick it up or not. However, if you’ve already played the games then it depends on how much you enjoyed them the first time, as to whether you go and buy this version. If you found the challenges more frustrating than fun, perhaps you’re best leaving this game to go cold. Personally, I found them both frustrating AND fun, so I really enjoyed replaying the levels from the previous campaigns – also, some of the DLCs were among the best levels that the game offers, including the new exclusive DLC, so that’s definitely a reason to buy this version.
Visage is haunting but frustrating. If you were to ask me if this is a good game, I’d be inclined to say that it’s simply ‘okay’. If you were to ask me if it’s a good horror game, I’d say its terrifying, heart-stopping and simply unmissable. The stories about each character are interesting, if a little disturbing, and it’s fun working through the puzzles that come up while you’re moving through the chapters. The inventory system is nothing short of a nuisance and it made me want to stop playing at times, especially coupled with the sanity meter and the cycle of not knowing where you’re supposed to be going. If you can set that aside though, and you want an experience of a horror game that will chill you to the core, I don’t think it gets much better than Visage.
Blair Witch: Oculus Quest Edition is a bit of an enigma. The use of VR adds so much in terms of tension, immersion and interactivity, that makes it feels both awesome and terrifying. Then, the removal of certain sections and the addition of very basic scares makes it feel a bit rushed as the scares don’t really pay off from the tension that’d been building. It’s only really the crazy ending that feels truly spooky while the simplistic wandering through the woods picking stuff up feels like a limited experience. If you’ve never played the original Flat version, I still think that’s the best version to play, but it’s worth jumping into the VR edition if you’re a fan of immersive psychological horror games or the original release and want to experience some of the thrills up close and personal. Bonus: You can pet Bullet in VR – so if all else fails, at least the game has that.
Pacer is definitely a match for Wipeout in so many ways. The gameplay is fantastic and the sense of motion you get from the smooth anti-gravity racing feels very satisfying. The customisation options allow you to personalise your ships and create loadouts which are both the best and worst part of the game for me. I love the option to design the ship I want and being able to chop and change on the fly, but locking out all the upgrades makes the game too much of a grind for me. If you’re a fan of other high-speed racers I genuinely can’t recommend this enough. There’s enough content to keep you going for ages and it definitely lives up to the inspiration of Wipeout. If I had to call a winner, it’d be a photo finish, so just play both of them if you can.
Hellpoint is far from a bad game. In fact, it more than holds its own in the genre and gripped me a lot better than Demon’s Souls (PS3) did when I started playing that. It does the important parts extremely well and despite not being as pretty or as popular as other games out there, it’s a really solid entry. The platforming required adds unnecessary difficulty but the combat, the co-op, story and bosses are all brilliantly implimented. The story is slowly drip-fed, making it not the easiest to follow, but there’s enough there for you to eventually make sense of it – more so than Bloodborne, in my experience anyway. The addition of the timed features in the game is an interesting addition to the genre and one that I think should be used more in the future.
Cuphead is a game that really should be played by everyone. If you’re someone who likes to work hard to improve at a game, like Crash Bandicoot, for example, this game is definitely for you. If you’re also someone who just likes shooting stuff in the face while enjoying a boppy soundtrack and appreciating some fine art, it’s also for you. Cuphead really is a masterpiece of simplistic game design. I’m not the most patient person in the world but this game just grabs you and releases a hidden determination to beat its challenges and I had an absolute blast while doing it.
New battle royale games seem to be coming out every week – just this past month we’ve also had Hyperspace. That being said, Spellbreak is the most fun I’ve had in the genre since I first tried Fortnite. It still has a long way to go to prove itself as the best BR out there, but I think it’s starting out as the strongest one on day one so far. Its gameplay is fast and fun, the team-based attacks and gauntlet system are innovative and satisfying, and the class systems add a ton of reasons to replay and practice. It’s a really solid game that feels it’s at its absolute best when playing as a team, which isn’t always the case when it comes to BRs. Spellbreak does enough to truly stand out in the genre and is probably my favourite battle royale out there right now. Go give it a play, who knows, it might just be the refresh in the genre you’ve been looking for.
Maid of Sker scratched my horror itch for the year so far for sure. Despite some of my criticisms, it’s not a bad game, far from it. It’s just let down by a very few glaring issues that stop it from being a truly great game. I still really enjoyed my time with it, mainly due to its incredible setting and references to folklore. The story progresses in a very natural way and feels just about the right length at around four hours. The Quiet Ones are an interesting enemy type and their presence in the game is explained brilliantly through the excellent world-building that’s throughout the floors of the hotel. The only problem is that the story of them limits the gameplay experience somewhat to a repetitive sneaking trial and error game and that can get very frustrating, especially when it’s let down by strange AI problems. The puzzles in the game are very fun to work out and feel just as fun to do as the puzzles in a Resident Evil or Silent Hill game. The visuals and sound design are really quite something and lift the experience somewhat, which tells me that there’s potential for a fantastic horror experience to come from Wales Interactive.