The first thing that stikes me about The Suicide of Rachel Foster is the atmosphere of the old hotel. The main character Nicole has arrived under legal obligation to check the condition of the building before selling it, but unfortunately for her a blizzard hits upon arrival and forces her to spend time in a place that holds bad childhood memories. Exploring the hotel Nicole recounts stories from her childhood while wishing she were anywhere else. Every creak of a rotting floorboard and rattle of a loose tile fills me with unease and a chill that seems unnatural even considering the piling snowbanks outside.
BPM: Bullets Per Minute is described as a rhythm-action FPS rogue-like. I wasn’t quite sure what that meant at first either so let me explain.
If you’ve played any rogue-likes before you will be familiar with the randomness of each attempt to get to the final boss. Each try contains a different dungeon layout. Within that random layout each room contains a random assortment of enemies, shops, chests, stat and ability and health pickups, level modifiers and secrets, of which there are quite a few. On top of that is the rhythm-action mechanics meaning you can only shoot in time with the music and Awe Interactive have provided a great rock soundtrack which brings the whole game together quite nicely.
The news that Nvidia are releasing a new set of GPU’s labelled ’30-series’ has been a hot topic over the past week or so. Having built my last two PC’s I like to keep up to date with the new tech but try not to get too excited because I know deep down I don’t have enough cash to upgrade every time something new is released. The starting price of £469 for the RTX 3070 in the UK is very tempting however and much cheaper than I’d have imagined a card that outpaces the 1080 Ti to be.
Oh, and there was also the small matter of the Xbox Series reveals and Nintendo stealthily unveiling some more Zelda.
With every ‘Souls-like’ comes the unavoidable comparison to Dark Souls and Mortal Shell uses many of the mechanics found within FromSoftware’s legendary series. The way in which it uses these mechanics but also carves a little space to use them in it’s own way is very reminiscent of the first time I ever played a Souls game. At first I didn’t really know what I was doing, or where I was going, or if I was even making any kind of meaningful progress. But I knew what I was playing was captivating and so I forged on into oblivion.
Here I was alone on my spaceship. Minding my own business. Basking in the bliss of eternal solitude, when all of a sudden I noticed a distress signal coming from a nearby ship ‘The Alabaster’. I took one look down at my control panel and decided “not today my friend”. I turned off incoming transmissions and slowly continued on, not knowing where I was going or what I was doing. Free from responsibility and game mechanics…
…of course the game had other ideas. …
Noita (the Finnish word for witch) is an early access rogue-lite with an emphasis on every pixel being simulated. That’s right, every single pixel in the game has physical properties and can be affected by the player in one way or another. Explosions gouge chunks out of caves and yourself, fire burns down anything organic including any wood you’re standing on and yourself, water fills up all the little crevices and drowns you if you’re not careful and many enemies have the same abilities. Indeed traversing your way through Noita can be as precarious and treacherous as fighting the enemies that dwell in it’s caves.
Combat and exploration come with a magical flavour, as you move around the underground landscape with what is essentially the power of a recharging jet pack. The game also adopts the no hands held approach which works well in generating a sense of exploration and a reasonable learning curve although I admit I did take a peek at the wiki a few times.
Weapons come in the form of wands and throwable flasks, each with their own properties and statistics. In the case of wands, the statistics of any given wand are permanent but they also come with spell slots and interchangeable spells attatched to them. Wands are plentiful at the start of Noita and this makes for some interesting experimentation as you try different combinations and find out a combat style that suits you. Flasks are equally as interesting and can teleport, polymorph, increase damage, burn, slow and many more things.
As you progress through Noita you find yourself passing through many different biomes, at the end of these biomes you are offered the chance to rest as you pass through a gateway chamber of sorts. You are able to replenish all spells, heal and are offered a choice of three upgrades of which you can only choose one. There are over fifty different types of upgrades currently in Noita and combining this with the different types of biomes and enemies gives the game a nice amount of replayability.
Noita may currently be in Early Access but even taking a quick look at the wiki shows the amount of content it has already is impressive. Developers Nolla Games reckon that Noita will be in development for a year before it’s full release. I’m looking forward to see how the game evolves during this time.
It was great fun. That’s it, no introduction needed. I’m going straight for the jugular on this one! Despite previously being somewhat of a skeptic on anything VR related, I also believe in a lot of cases it’s hard to have a stong opinion on something without first having an experience with that something. And so I had my first experience of virtual reality with my Oculus headset awkwardly strapped to my face and my touch controllers waving around clumsily as I entered the VR world of SUPERHOT.
I loved the original SUPERHOT on PC and soon became accustomed to the feel of my two motion controllers and headset within the game itself. I did almost lose my balance a couple of times early on but familiarized myself with the movements the game demanded of me with my previous experience with the PC version. With a game like SUPERHOT VR there certainly is a lot of movement involved. Every level is essentially a combination of dodging bullets, disarming enemies, shooting at unusual angles, picking up throwables from the ground, shelves and desks, punching enemies, dodging their attacks and so on. It definitely qualifies as light exercice and while I loved my time in the with the game, this is not the experience I look for in every day gaming.
The way I like to think of my enjoyment of this particular VR game is that it reminds me of going to the arcades as a kid. The enjoyment of having lots of small experiences that are super fun for short bursts before you move onto the next thing. And so I found myself after twenty or so minutes of SUPERHOT VR wanting to move onto something else. I ended up playing four or five different games in total but returned to SUPERHOT once more before I ended my session because I enjoyed it the most.
The immersion factor was much higher as is expected for the VR version of the game. It gave me a new appreciation of just how to take out each enemy and in what order, although aiming felt very different. Those moments you get in SUPERHOT PC where you pull of a really cool move felt even better in VR and things like flicking bullets out the air with your weapon, catching enemy knives and guns and swordplay were the highlight of my playtime. I would definitely be up for experiencing more SUPERHOT VR and VR in general in the future but I am yet to be convinced that this would ever replace my normal gaming set up.