Billed as a more stripped down and linear experience perhaps set within a Deus Ex-style hub world, Cyberpunk 2077 could have lived up to expectations. But as an “Ur-game” which would allow players to do just about anything they wanted, and which the marketing relentlessly teased, Cyberpunk 2077 is just a shadow. A pretty shadow, but a shadow nonetheless.
Although it covers fairly deep emotional subject matter, The Magnificent Trufflepigs is generally an extremely relaxing, easy-going game with no fail states; a “walk-‘em-up” where you wander across several fields, digging up old bits of rubbish while reminiscing with an old friend.
Samurai Warriors 5 is an extremely over-the-top, ridiculous game. It’s a game where your character can slice his enormous sword at a battalion of soldiers, obliterating them in a massive fireball. It’s a game where you can ride your horse through hundreds of archers, cutting them down while barely getting a scratch on you. It’s a game where if you pull off the correct combination of moves, your character can basically “fly”, zipping around with inhuman speed while inflicting devastating power attacks. All of this from what is on paper supposed to be a realistic, historical action game. This juxtaposition of a relatively serious story with the ludicrous action is a formula that works surprisingly well, creating a core gameplay loop which is engaging, if sometimes a bit repetitive. If you accept the game for what it is, you’ll find a satisfying hack-and-slash with plenty of replayability.
No Longer Home doesn’t out stay its welcome and is a relatively short experience, but I generally found it interesting and inventive. It clearly borrows heavily from Kentucky Route Zero, but wisely doesn’t try to imitate it, but rather borrows narratively and structurally. Ao and Bo’s relationship is very well fleshed out, and they are honest and truthful to each other in a refreshing way, their dialogue never feeling forced or unnatural. This is commendable, as realistic romantic relationships are often difficult to accurately convey in video games. It’s a game which pauses and asks you to value the small moments in life. I took this lesson to heart, using every opportunity I could to pet the flat’s two cats, Luna and Autumn. Sometimes, just petting a cat can spark joy. Life consists of a multitude of small moments, and at some point, we all must move from old homes and build new ones. No Longer Home, like Gone Home before it, proves the adage “you can’t go home again” remains as true as ever.
Deathloop is genuinely refreshing in how different it is. It took me a while to get used to not saving, and being more daring in my battles against the Eternalists, most of which ended successfully and only occasionally ended with me being shot to pieces. The world is fascinating and the way you gradually learn new tidbits of information each loop means that even if you are killed prematurely, you still feel you have meaningfully progressed. Each zone has loads of secrets to uncover and will respond to Colt’s actions in different ways, meaning that mastering the maps and their layouts is crucial to fully upgrading Colt’s weaponry and hopefully bringing about a final end to the time loop. Deathloop is a brave change of direction for Arkane, and one which I think is overall extremely successful. It might not be an immersive sim, but it’s still a hell of a fine game.
Industria doesn’t outstay its welcome, but it could have done with more narrative meat on its bones, especially for the ending. It sets up a fascinating world I was interested to learn about, and left me eager for more. The shooting is nicely satisfying and the robot design is appropriately unnerving, meaning the dark hallways of the buildings of Hakavik always felt atmospheric and spooky. It needs some more patches to make the performance adequate, but I will be very interested to see what Bleakmill does next. I hope we’ll return to the world of Industria in the future.
Jett: The Far Shore has an interesting and deep world, but it takes far too long to actually get around to telling you about it. It’s also sadly just boring to play thanks to the glacial pacing, which leaves your enjoyment purely hinging on your engagement with the characters and story. If you’ve got the patience to enjoy Jett’s deliberately slow approach, you’ll certainly find an interesting world to learn about and explore, filled with unique alien lifeforms.