Naughty Dog’s The Last of Us Part II might have launched last year to critical acclaim, and plenty of in-depth critique, but I purposefully left it to one side. I didn’t want to rush into what I knew would be an emotionally draining game, especially not in the middle of a global pandemic. I did eventually make a start on it towards the end of 2020, with my PlayStation 4 straining at the seams to run the game.
A house move later and an upgrade to running TLoU2 on a PlayStation 5, and I finally found the time, and mental energy, to finish it. And what a roller coaster ride of a game it is.
What follows will include major spoilers, so please don’t read on if you intend to play this afresh.
Mini Motorways made its debut on Steam at the end of July, and will be coming to the Nintendo Switch next year, but it still feels absolutely like a mobile game at heart. Perhaps, though, I should correct myself there. It feels like a touch game at heart. This isn’t some in-app purchase driven knock-off, but a very smartly thought-out city builder that begs to be picked up and played, one which will undoubtedly find a very welcome home on the Switch.
Coming to Mini Motorways on the PC without having played it, or its predecessor Mini Metro, I was immediately struck by how clean and fresh it looked. I’m a sucker for good-looking art, and with Mini Motorways, where everything is fairly minimalistic, there is more than enough character to draw me in. I love the way the cities expand as the days and weeks tick by, but in such a subtle fashion that you don’t realise that you’ve progressed from managing the road network of a village at the start, to now trying to tame the sprawl of a megalopolis. A sprawl that is all your own doing.
Once a few in-game weeks have passed and your starting route between two houses and one work place has grown exponentially, it’s wonderful to take a moment to pause, delete your original road networks and create things afresh to best take account of how your city has evolved. A city that has evolved to grow around your roads, with houses sprouting in the most awkward of spots but able to be ignored. Meanwhile the new business that sets up on the other side of a river when you have run out of bridges to plop down will be what finally brings a game to an end.
It might not be your traditional city builder, and yes it might work best on a touch device, but Mini Motorways is a gem, and comes highly recommended.
Unless you’ve been sleeping under a rock, you’ll know it’s Olympics time, and Team GB have Sky Brown competing in the park discipline. Today you can (nearly) emulate Sky with The Ramp, an indie skateboarding title from Paul Schnepf.
Unlike Sky’s adventures in Tokyo, The Ramp features vert skateboarding across a handful of locations, and that’s pretty much it. On the Steam page, Paul describes The Ramp as offering you 15 minutes of flow for “the price of a medium sized cinnamon pistachio latte”.
The Ramp is out right now on Steam, and I’ll be putting down the price of a fancy coffee for 15 minutes of flow.
I’ve tried a couple of Monster Hunter titles, including the mega-hit World which opened the game to a whole new audience. However, I’ve never really clicked with the titles in the past, finding them lacking direction and boasting an overwhelming number of combat mechanics.
Now, having played the Monster Hunter Stories 2: Wings of Ruin trial on the Switch over the past few days, I’ve potentially found my style of Monster Hunter game.
Following the announcement of Battlefield 2042, DICE teased a new mode which will be a love letter to fans. While we’ll have to wait to see what that turns out to be, but in the meantime I’m sure that there are plenty out there who want to play some of the older games in the series. Help is at hand, especially for playing Battlefield 2 and 2142 online, though 1942 and Vietnam are more complex.
A new Battlefield was revealed this week, and it makes a nice reference in the title to two games from the past. Using the 2042 reference, DICE are making calls back to the game that started it all, Battlefield 1942, and the only futuristic title in the series so far, Battlefield 2142. Amongst all the hyperbole about 2042 having the largets maps ever and unprecedented scale, the website references a currently ‘Redacted’ game mode which is described as a love letter to the fans of DICE and Battlefield.
Going Medieval, a colony builder set during the 14th Century, has had a phenomenal first week in Early Access, selling 175,000 copies. It’s a charming little game which I sunk a few hours into over the weekend, and came away with all of my ‘Sims and SimCity in the dark ages’ fantasies fulfilled. Well, this is a bit more hardcore than those two behemoths. and selling so many copies in the first week is a massive achievement. Hit the break for my hands on impressions.
It’s been a few weeks since I completed the main storyline of Control, and perhaps coincidentally the same amount of time has passed since I paused my X-Files re-watch. After completing the main story I decided to pause before making a decision on whether to embark upon the DLC. Reflecting on my time with Control, I think I will make an effort to work my way through the DLC.
Would I contemplate sinking my teeth into the DLC if it wasn’t for the Assist Mode that came with a large update to the game back in August 2020? I think not.
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.
Back in January we wrote about Commanding Nations, the Command and Conquer: Generals inspired RTS that had been in the works at Seven Volts for two-years before breaking covers in January. The team are still quite some way away from launching their Kickstarter, and are currently focused on building their community and getting news of their game shared through word of mouth.
Here I speak with Seven Volts CEO, Pourya Arami, about how the Seven Volts crew came together, their love of Command and Conquer and details of Commanding Nations itself. Hit the break for the full Q&A.