Call of the Sea is one of the best puzzle-adventure games I’ve ever played. Each puzzle requires you to think logically and gather all the clues to figure out the solution, you’re rewarded with a trophy and more context to the story for exploring and finding documents, and your eyes are given a treat by looking at this visually stunning game. This is the first time I’ve played a Lovecraft-inspired game that isn’t focused on horror, jump scares, or disturbing themes, instead it’s a peaceful adventure that uses the influences perfectly to create a very interesting and memorable experience.
Protocol is frustrating, annoying, and anger-inducing – I loved it! Despite the brutal and unforgiving insane A.I., who constantly kills you if you so much as look at her funny, I thought the story was interesting, the dialogue was ‘colourful’, and the combination of many different gameplay mechanics was very creative. My only negative, besides the difficulty spike in the final chapter, has to be the ‘long’ loading times – these wouldn’t usually be an issue, but in a game where you’re bound to die over and over, I would have liked a faster reload. I personally preferred the first half of the game over the second, due to how the focus shifted more onto combat over exploration and puzzles, but it didn’t stop me from wanting to unlock all seven endings – which I will do, someday…
Terminator: Resistance Enhanced surprised me, it was a solid FPS with incorporated stealth, survival and crafting mechanics, including lore and references from the first two iconic movies. The new enhanced edition offers a smooth 60fps with a whole host of visual improvements, making the game even more fun to play and precise to control. The Infiltration mode finally lets you see the world from the eyes of Arnold, although I would have liked more from this mode – maybe the future DLC will expand upon it? If you like The Terminator and you’ve not yet played this game, you’re missing out on a hidden gem that isn’t anywhere near as bad as the critics initially made it out to be.
Poison Control is a very addictive third-person shooter which combines quirky Japanese humour with engaging gameplay. Although a lot of the Belles Hells you’ll venture through are very similar, making use of both the ‘human’ and Poisonette allows the gameplay to remain fresh and varied as you complete the set objectives, find the golden chests, and obtain your five golden tickets. The game is best played on the PlayStation 5, with only a single issue post-launch (which has a work-around), yet it does look and feel like it originated as a Switch or Vita title. Regardless, once you start playing Poison Control, on any platform, you’ll quickly become addicted and find it hard to put down until you’ve cleansed everyone’s hearts!
Although it may not be for everyone, I personally found Balan Wonderworld to be a delightful 3D platformer that is oozing with charm and fantastic visuals – especially the cutscenes. Some people may see the backtracking to collect costumes so you can progress in other stages as a negative, yet I enjoyed this as it reminded me of the LEGO games and it felt like I was always progressing. Some boss battles were a little tricky, and the unlocked third stages are harder than the previous two, but it’s a fair challenge that can be overcome with time and practice. My only issue is that the game is clearly one aimed at children, yet the consumable costumes and frustrating bosses may actually be a little too annoying and/or difficult for them to enjoy.
If you’re looking for a family-friendly casual local co-op game to play with friends or family, Potion Party should be high on your list of candidates. It’s very addictive and rewarding, making money to spend on upgrades that allow you to obtain more money in return, gradually expanding and making the process more efficient. You can play the entire mini-campaign on your own or with others locally (or via Share Play), or face them competitively and see who’s the most agile alchemist.
Internet Court is one of the most bonkers and continuously funny FMV games you’ll see outside of the Super Seducer franchise. Although your choices don’t change the narrative and losing offers no punishment as you can simply continue, every option you pick has a recorded reaction and consequence – meaning you can pick all the ‘bad’ choices without worrying about replaying the entire scene again. Every character has their own personality, whether the actor has done acting before or are simply related to those who created the game, resulting in some unintentionally funny moments and realistic reactions. For a game that was clearly made with little to no budget and remotely via laptops of varying quality, I found it hilarious and a joy to play, even more than some big-budget titles I’ve played recently.
For the developer’s first dabble into the interactive FMV adventure genre, I Saw Black Clouds delivered a dark, spooky, and immersive experience, enhanced by the interesting narrative and multiple diverse story pathways. The acting and cinematography were great, pulling you into the story as it puts you in the seat of the director, choosing what to say and how to react to certain situations. There were a few continuity issues and missing emotions, but they may have been intentional due to the multi-pathway aspect of the game. If you like psychological thriller movies and FMV interactive experiences, you’ll love trying to discover all the secrets within I Saw Black Clouds.
For a remake of a 20-year-old game, Spacebase: Startopia looks and feels very modern, providing hours of strategic entertainment with its resource management and economic simulation. The game may look complicated and overwhelming but, as long as you play the tutorials first, the controls and mechanics make it very easy to play on the console. You can play the campaign solo or with online friends, as well as lose many hours in the Free Play mode (again, solo or online). I’m disappointed the trophies weren’t more creative, and with the performance within the native PS5 version upon launch, but considering these were my only complaints and they didn’t affect my enjoyment of the game, it’s not a big deal for me.
Super Seducer 3: The Final Seduction is much more advanced and in-depth than the previous games in the series, with longer scenes, new mechanics, and a comprehensive flowchart. Although the diverse and varied super seducers are gone, Richard makes up for this with his creepy humour and childish behaviour, making every seduction a hilarious encounter with dialogue choices you’d never have imagined. The mix of serious and bizarre outcomes allows you to pick up some tips yet easily distinguish what is ‘right’ and what is clearly an exaggerated joke and shouldn’t be copied by anyone. If you liked the previous games, you’re going to love this final FMV seduction-based adventure