A few niggles aside, Headliner: NoviNews is a smart and impactful game with a tonne of replayability. While it’s set in a fictional land featuring fictional characters and fictional news, it’s easy to draw parallels with the news agencies of our own countries, holding up a mirror to the way news is reported and the spin that is applied to facts. Exploring the ramifications of your decisions and what information you disseminate to the public, whether that’s becoming a state sponsored outlet or sticking to your responsibilities to provide impartial news, is fascinating. Headliner: NoviNews is an easy recommendation to anyone who fancies something a little bit different.
Afterlife falls into those cracks between game and cinematic creations and is worse for it. Without a UI or any indication on how to experience its branching narrative without blindly stumbling through it, it fails as a VR game. Without the set cinematic frame, of the direction that all standard movies have, you can miss some of the better moments in the because it’s going on behind or to the periphery of your vision. The performances and the more powerful moments of this experience make it easy to see it has been nominated for a number of high profile awards – but for me, this virtual voyeuristic experience lacks the clarity provided by the staples of either medium to really capitalise on its more powerful moments.
The combat, side missions and boss battled are all a triumph of that original pitch I was served a few years ago, combining the best of mobile gaming wrapped up in a highly polished and visually spending package without any adverts or micro transactions. Unfortunately, It’s just too short. Clocking in at 2 hours for a straight forward play through and ~6 hours for a 100% run, it feels like there could have been more before the formula had ran its course.
Riverbond breaks no new ground but is an enjoyable romp through a highly detailed and eye-catching voxel world that accommodates younger players better than most in this genre. The bosses, as menacing as they look, aren’t quite up to scratch and in co-op, you can easily lose yourself in the action, but if you’ve got a brood of kids to entertain and a few Dualshock 4 controllers handy, you can easily get 7-10 hours of fun out of this game before the repetition sets in. Perfect for a rainy day.
Roarr! Jurassic Edition on PS4 is a budget title for a budget price. It’s 5-6 hours of family friendly, repetitive button mashing in a clean but simplistic world set to a half-decent soundtrack. The occasional bug, the difficulty that goes from too easy to cheaply unfair and zero replayability beyond butting a dress on a T-Rex mean any potential the game has is squandered however.
PC Building Simulator on PS4 is an enchanting game, channelling creativity and problem solving through the medium of making and fixing computers that even a PC newcomer like I can get to grips with and wholeheartedly enjoy. I do wish the game had spent a little more time explaining 3DMark scoring and overclocking as these are areas that it skips over too quickly for my liking but otherwise, this is a game that's easy to access, even easier to lose an afternoon too and is a great translation of the PC version.
Bouncy Bullets is one of Petite Games’ better concepts but it’s a game that doesn’t make full use of its potential with its design. It’s a colourful game with an excellent soundtrack but the frame rate issues when using bounce pads, the thicker than custard AI and the shortness to the game relegate this to yet more Trophy Hunter fodder and little else. A real shame.
Horace is a very, very good game. A humour filled but emotionally charged plot delivered via beautiful and well-paced cut scenes, some of the most gorgeous pixel released this year, a smorgasbord of pop culture references and mini-games and a hand crafted feel to the platforming, as if everything has been placed with care and attention, combine into one of the most surprising games of 2019.