Our Week in Games – Week 138

Our Week in Games – Week 138

Resident Evil Village had finally dropped, to mostly good reviews. The more action-centric affair is building upon its excellent predecessor, to the apparent consternation of a group of ‘core’ fans; though I think the move is smart.  Having only played the demo I can only talk to this point so much, but the balance seems good. The atmosphere is electric and I’m constantly thinking ‘danger danger’. Bonus points for anyone who got that reference.

I will say though that the boxart for Village drives me mad- why the Dickins did they not align the lycan’s chin with his???! Gah. Board decisions be damned- someone needed to take a stand on this one. 1/10, completely unplayable.

In other gaming news, Hardspace: Shipbreaker has had it’s biggest update to, erm, date. Adding a whole host of quality of life adjustments and a crew (gadzooks!) to flesh out the story. This is one of those games that I know I will love. I know I should play, yet for some reason I have not, despite Nick’s Verdict from last year. Following this update I plan to rectify that.

Finally any hope of getting hold of an ever-elusive 30-series GeForce’s card was dashed last-month when nVidia announced that supply-disruption is likely to last until 2022. The fact that AMD haven’t been able to exploit this ‘lag’ speaks to a wider supply problem that I’m afraid probably extends past COIVD-related disruption. Personally I’m convinced that the PlayStation 5 and the 30-series are the adult-equivalent of the Tooth Fairy; you’re told they exist… but have you actually met anyone who’s got one…? Didn’t think so….

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Our Week in Games – Week 137

Our Week in Games – Week 137

As Chris crawls back towards the eternal light of games, he makes his triumphant return to Our Week in Games. Well, triumphant is an exaggeration for a handful of words. It’s a Bank Holiday Monday though, so read on and enjoy what the team have to share.

Chris

Among all the stress and effort of moving house, I was ready to settle in for a session of Outriders this week. The trouble was, a massive update was required.

So I booted up Assassin’s Creed Odyssey and focused on taking out one of the Cultists. There are so many strands to the RPG era of Assassin’s Creed games, and hunting down Cultists can be done through the main story or by yourself. While deciding to hunt one down for myself, I came across one of the millions of side quests, this time the One Really Bad Day quest line.

I don’t often remember many quests in Odyssey, but this one was a standout with a perfect blend of action and humour.

What a game.

Ross

This week I finally, finally got around to playing Arkane Studios’ Dishonored. And I have thoughts.

It’s the true successor to Looking Glass Studios’ immersive sims, most notably Thief, of which this feels like a spiritual sequel in many ways, from its sneaky gameplay to its strange fusion of industry and magic. I count those immersive sims as some of my absolute favourite games, so it’s a mystery as to why I’ve only now, almost a decade later, gotten around to playing Dishonored.

Because we’re basically made for one another…

…but we make an odd couple.

There is so much that I love about this game. I was compelled to complete it within days, which is likely the highest compliment I can gift Arkane Studios’ work. Dishonored is compulsively enjoyable; if its goal was to create the feeling of being a master assassin (which, yes, it was), then it succeeded. Life as Corvo Attano in Dunwall is one of supernatural power and it’s incredibly fun. It’s near seamless in its ability to create this perception of power, and each mission offers new opportunities to exercise it, from sumptuous masked balls to gaudy brothels.

Much has been made of Dishonored’s world-building. It’s true that it crafts a distinctive world with texture and grit, but I don’t think it ever truly digs beneath its own surface. At least not enough to matter. And world-building is no substitute for a compelling story filled with interesting characters, which is the game’s foremost shortcoming.

The story it tells is inadequate to the talents of those who penned it. There are some whip smart people behind this game, developers I love and respect – folks like Harvey Smith, Terri Brosius, and Austin Grossman. But somehow they mismanage the telling of this tale in a way that I’m still trying to wrap my head around.

It’s a story where nothing happens until two thirds of the way through, in an almost identical error in pacing to Bioshock. You know what that turning point is by virtue of the fact that, owing to a lack of development and character drama, only one thing can happen (for a lesson in how to avoid this, see the original Deus Ex).

It’s a problem with a lot of gaming narratives; they eschew the ebb and flow of drama that makes stories worth following in favour of piling everything into a single big twist, doing nothing either side of it. I’m astounded that the terrific folks behind this tale both got away with it and that gaming culture at large let them. Is it a problem with how we look at narrative in games? Maybe. But I really don’t think this is how it should be done.

It’s a shame; the premise is so good. It works its way to an effective and powerful final scene, but I find it hard not to feel disappointment at what that scene could have been if the game had bothered to do the dramatic legwork leading up to it. Of course, lots of people disagree with me, and that’s fine. I’m not trying to set myself up as some kind of arbiter on how things Ought to be Done. But I can at least try and convey how I feel, and I know I’ve experienced better than this by its genius developers.

Luckily for Dishonored every other part of it is exemplary. It’s a beautiful game, something like a water colour painting – clouds etched across the horizon, dazzling reds and oranges dusting a world made of blackened stone and rusting metal.

There’s more here that works than doesn’t, and it nails the bit that matters – namely the act of playing. With that, I’m looking forward to its sequel.

Resident Evil 7 – A Retrospective

Resident Evil 7 – A Retrospective

As Resident Evil Village fast approaches, Ross is going to be revisiting some of his favourite titles from a series that has undergone many permutations since 1996—from survival horror to white-knuckle third-person action—reinventing itself whenever the formula became too staid, to varying levels of success. But when it works, it really works.

Let’s dive.

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Resident Evil 4 – A Retrospective

Resident Evil 4 – A Retrospective

As Resident Evil Village fast approaches, Ross is going to be revisiting some of his favourite titles from a series that has undergone many permutations since 1996—from survival horror to white-knuckle third-person action—reinventing itself whenever the formula became too staid, to varying levels of success. But when it works, it really works.

Let’s dive.

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Resident Evil 2 (2019) – A Retrospective

Resident Evil 2 (2019) – A Retrospective

As Resident Evil Village fast approaches, Ross is going to be revisiting some of his favourite titles from a series that has undergone many permutations since 1996—from survival horror to white-knuckle third-person action—reinventing itself whenever the formula became too staid, to varying levels of success. But when it works, it really works.

Let’s dive.

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Resident Evil (2002) – A Retrospective

Resident Evil (2002) – A Retrospective

As Resident Evil Village fast approaches, Ross is going to be revisiting some of his favourite titles from a series that has undergone many permutations since 1996—from survival horror to white-knuckle third-person action—reinventing itself whenever the formula became too staid, to varying levels of success. But when it works, it really works.

Let’s dive.

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The Darkside Detective: A Fumble in the Dark – The Verdict

The Darkside Detective: A Fumble in the Dark – The Verdict

The introduction of Detective Francis McQueen and his sidekick, Officer Patrick Dooley, in 2017’s comedy horror point-and-click, The Darkside Detective, was an unexpected delight. The strange and kooky world of Twin Lakes didn’t take the ‘horror’ bit all that seriously; it was much happier indulging obscure film references and finding innuendo everywhere.

And we were all the better for it.

The sequel, A Fumble in the Dark, is much the same, only bigger and carried off with a confidence born of its developers knowing they’ve crafted a winning duo, milking it for all it’s worth – albeit a little too much at times.

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Our Week in Games – Week 135

Our Week in Games – Week 135

I’ll be perfectly honest, this week I’ve paid absolutely no attention to the gaming news, so I’m going to go out on a limb and say that three things have definitely happened.

Firstly, a game featuring a gruff man carrying a large gun has been announced. The cover image is probably blue and yellow and there’s a colon in the title.

Secondly, another game everyone’s been excited about has sadly been delayed. The developers have said it’s definitely not been cancelled.

Thirdly, that Kickstarter you’ve been really excited about still hasn’t been completed yet. The developers were last seen driving very expensive cars and not updating the progress page on their website.

So now that we’re all caught up, what have we been playing this week?

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Dorfromantik devs outline Early Access plans

Dorfromantik devs outline Early Access plans

Since Dorfromantik released into Early Access towards the end of March, I’ve been playing a decent amount of this village builder. When I brought word of Dorfromantik a couple of weeks ago, I described it as a peaceful stress-free game that sounded like bliss. After a few hours of play, it certainly is blissful, and wonderfully relaxing.

Over the weekend, the team at Toukana laid out their plans for their time in Early Access in more detail. The first phase will see a number of updates squashing bugs and improving general accessibility and usability, but the second phase is more interesting.

The second phase will comprise two content updates, the first will see a creative mode land which I am very keen to see, while the second update will add new biomes, tiles and challenges. The team are still planning a full release in mid/late 2021, and I’ll be looking to deliver a Verdict at that point.

For now, check out Dorfromantik on Steam and enjoy.