Despite the obvious influences, ChromaGun VR is a solid VR puzzle game which will get you thinking. The game feels like it was made for VR, even though it came out over a year ago as a flat PS4 title. The puzzles were entertaining and challenging the further into the game you got, with the constant threat of rogue balls waiting to follow you and squish the life out of you should you wake them up. I did suffer from a burst of motion sickness using the new smooth turning method, but I can’t guarantee if that was the game or the previous game which may have left me feeling a little queasy. As such, there are a few comfort and accessibility options missing such as blinders and subtitles, but these can be added post-launch if enough people request them I guess.
Imaginative puzzles, intuitive solo/co-op gameplay, an emotional story, and stunning visuals, Pode has it all! I imagined I would have completed the game within an hour two, yet almost five hours later and I was just reaching the end, and that’s without collecting everything. Some of the puzzles are quite tricky, and one or two didn’t really make sense to me as it was a new mechanic it hadn’t explained before, but every puzzle is solvable if you put your mind to it. I also loved the fact that the game is clearly meant for cooperative play, yet it works flawlessly if you’re playing it on your own as well. I’m incredibly excited that Pode made its way to the PlayStation 4 as it means more people will now get a chance to try it out and experience the creativity and magnificence of this amazing title.
Arcade Spirits is a very inclusive and adaptive Visual Novel which gives the player a lot of freedom to be who they want to be. At its core, it’s a dating Visual Novel but without the forced necessity to actually date anyone if that isn’t what you’re looking for. If you’re not getting to know one of the friendly and unique characters, then you’ll be talking to IRIS, the AI who offers you Pizza facts and life-tips, or living out a unique day within the Funplex. There’s always something going on in the Arcade as the game has great pacing and lots of creative events. Also, the game allows you to pick your gender and sexual orientation without being forced down any paths you don’t wish to wander.
I really enjoyed my time with NAIRI: Tower of Shirin, it felt like an interactive storybook with delightful puzzles. Visually, this game is up there with the most artistically beautiful games of the last 12 months yet it also has a decent selection of unique and interesting puzzles to help it stand up as a great game to play. I had a few mild annoyances with the UX such as the lack of a map/fast travel, no interactive highlighters, and it’s rather easy to accidentally click to move to another screen, but I still felt compelled to move on and venture further into the story. Despite the lack of voice acting, NAIRI: Tower of Shirin‘s narrative is funny and witty along with the overall story the further into the game you get. Don’t be put off by the lack of voices though, use your imagination and make the characters sound however you imagine them to sound.
Intruders: Hide and Seek is pretty much a Home Invasion simulator staring some very brave children. I was constantly anxious about what was going to happen next and what was around each and every corner of my own house whilst I explored and tried to avoid the uninvited intruders. Unlike Home Alone, this game is more on the serious side with no silly traps or comical situations, but it's also not as terrifying as the VR horror games which are out there - it sits in between the two. Bar the few issues I had with font sizes and bugs (which should get patched), the experience was beyond what I was expecting and rather interesting with its deep backstory and exposition.
Conarium is a truly atmospheric Lovecraftian adventure game which represents the genre perfectly. Set mainly after the novella “At the Mountains of Madness”, the events that happened prior unfold as our protagonist learns of them at the same time we do through many documents and visions which are both disturbing and informative. As an adventure game, expect a lot of walking around and puzzles to solve, with a small ‘run and hide’ segment, yet the gameplay never drags as it remains suspenseful and exciting throughout the whole experience.
Visually stunning, creative puzzles, great audio, and a brilliant narrative – XING: The Land Beyond has it all! This game is the perfect embodiment of ‘best of both worlds’, you have a fully immersive and great looking VR game coupled with an even better looking and easy to control Flat version in one package. Sure, some of the puzzles may seem like things we’ve seen many times before when you look from the outside, but once you take control and encounter them yourself, things aren’t always as they seem. The whole game is held together with a very emotional and dark narrative about pain and acceptance as each character approaches the end of their lives.
Etrian Odyssey Nexus is a great way to see off the 3DS with many references and borrowed assets from the previous games. Even though not much has changed in terms of the core gameplay mechanics or the overall feeling of the game, everything feels very polished and really fun to play. ATLUS have kept things interesting by bringing back some of the fan favourite elements of other games in the franchise as well as mixing in a few new mechanics and even a new class for you to experiment with.
The Evoland Legendary Edition is an innovative and creative new old-school RPG. If you’ve grown up with multiple systems ranging from the 8-bit consoles to the 32-bit generation, then you’ll simply love all of the nostalgic references and nods which you’ll immediately pick up on and smile at, every single time. For the price, you’re getting two rather unique and enjoyable games. One is short but contains some great ideas and concepts, the other is much longer with a more solid story and vision. The Evoland Legendary Edition collection is a modern take on old-school visuals and mechanics which have been implemented perfectly to create a artificial nostalgic experience around a modern game.
Once I was absorbed within its beautiful world, I never wanted The Liar Princess and the Blind Prince to ever end. The visuals are stunning, the music is enchanting, the gameplay is addictive, and the story is emotional. Sure, you could see the game as one big escort mission, as you’re escorting the Blind Prince to the witch in the forest to restore his sight, but the platforming, puzzles, and combat all come together perfectly to deliver a truly emotional and magical story.
Anyone’s Diary may have left me confused about its story but I really enjoyed the visuals and puzzles. Sure, we do see the same mechanic for the puzzles repeated a few times as you travel through this artistic puzzle platformer, but each puzzle has its own spin on the mechanic and keeps you interested. The design choice to have everything made out of drawings and writing from your diary really helps create a surreal and symbolic experience in this twisted world.
If you’re looking for a nice looking game to relax and wind down with, Glass Masquerade fits the bill perfectly. It’s a jigsaw puzzle in which the image isn’t the key to solving it, the curves and angles of each of the shapes are. This adds a new level of difficulty to the game as well as gives you a great sense of achievement once you successfully slot several slivers in succession. I love that the timer is there purely as a ‘git gud’ mechanic and doesn’t actually halt gameplay or deal any kind of punishment/restriction on those who take their time. Glass Masquerade is quite simply the perfect game to play when you have a spare moment and want to relax.
My nostalgia glasses allowed me to enjoy the Atari Flashback Classics Vol 3, your mileage may vary though. As the third collection in the series, we’re once again greeted with some classic Atari 2600, 5200, and arcade titles, yet we’re missing some notable franchises and games which is most likely down to licensing. With the power of nostalgia, me and my dad loved playing all these old classics again with our modern controllers in full high-def with a split-second load time, yet I imagine a lot of younger gamers may not see the same appeal.
A Fisherman’s Tale is one of the most imaginative and surreal narrative experiences on PlayStation VR. From the moment you put on your headset, you’ll be ‘hooked’ as you become fully ‘submerged’ within this fantastical and dream-like experience. The ‘as above, so below’ mechanic works seamlessly and turns a simple puzzle game into one which stands out above the crowd with its unique and interesting concept. The game itself isn’t very long, clocking in at around an hour from beginning to end, but if you wish to get the platinum then expect that time to be a bit longer as you backtrack for collectables and random trophies. If you like imaginative and thought-provoking puzzles, coupled with an interesting story and bizarre characters, then A Fisherman’s Tale is pulling on your line waiting to be reeled in today!
Genesis Alpha One is the Frankenstein concoction of many different genres, and I love it! When you’re not trying to expand your ship with new and essential components, you’ll be micromanaging your crew of clones or down on an alien planet harvesting materials. It’s all very unpredictable and you’re always on the edge of your seat, especially when you start to hear sirens and see a bunch of red blips appear on your map! The combat itself isn’t the greatest, with sensitive controls and an ‘off feeling’ non-iron sight mode, but you’ll eventually get used to it and it will begin to feel much better. For a rogue-like title, I found the time spent on each ‘run’ was quite long, this made getting eliminated much more intense and impactful.
Visual Novel fans looking for a new story to become absorbed into should pick up Song of Memories upon release. The game is a flip on the Otome style, having a male protagonist who is surrounded by big breasted beauties who he’s grown up with yet has suddenly begun to have feelings develop regarding one of them (players choice). The baseline story sees you preparing for and hosting a Halloween event within October, the real endings kind of bring about the end of the world! However, depending on your choices, what happens next will leave you with very mixed emotions, tears will fall, people will shout at their TV, and minds will be blown as we all know, happiness comes at a price.
The Hong Kong Massacre is a very bloody and strategic shooter with very satisfying and addictive gunplay action. I personally found the game to be very hard at first but over time, after I played it for about eight hours, I still found it to be very hard! However, the combat is very addictive and you can respawn within seconds, so I found myself trying over and over again with a determination I usually don’t have for games which are hard for the sake of it. I believe the AI has been given unfair advantages in some places, with X-Ray vision and the ears of a bat. However, once you know where everyone is and you plan out your breach in your head before-hand, you can create some rather impressive <60 seconds in-and-out action scenes as you frantically kill anything that moves before that single stray bullet takes you out.
8-Bit Hordes is a really fun and enjoyable second instalment in the 8-Bit Franchise and an interesting RTS as a whole. Instead of fending off the enemies with guns and bullets, we resort to melee, magic, and brute strength this time around as the ogres and wizards get involved. the gameplay and mechanics are identical to what we saw in 8-Bit Armies, but that’s not a bad thing as that game was also a great casual interpretation of the RTS genre on modern consoles
The music is a delight to listen to, the narrative is very witty and humorous (as well as serious when it has to be), and the visuals are amazing eye candy with all the colours and visual effects used. The controls can be a little sensitive in some places and the DS4 speaker needs to be adjusted outside of the game, but overall I would have been extremely proud if I was one of the lucky ones who backed this project initially on Kickstarter.
I can honestly say that YIIK: A Postmodern RPG is one of the most hands-on and unusual RPGs I’ve played in a while. There are a lot of QTEs within the game, almost every attack and literally every defence will require you to grab your controller and test those reflexes, but you get used to it after a while. The game may not be a ‘looker’ with its simplistic design, but it all adds to the charm. With its brilliant writing, equally as good voice acting, intuitive combat and progression system, and overall quirkiness – I can’t help but recommend this game to all RPG fans.