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Reviews

Wasteland 3 – The Verdict

Wasteland 3 – The Verdict

After successfully kickstarting development on Wasteland 2 in 2012, InXile Entertainment are back with a third, similarly crowd-funded instalment of the iconic CRPG series, swapping the dusty wastes of Arizona for a Colorado blanketed in irradiated snow.

It’s fair to say that Wasteland 3 and I did not get off to the best of starts. After investing three hours in the game, which was spent acclimatising to turn-based combat and learning the ins-and-outs of its stats system, I returned to find my save files had been erased. I’m still not sure what went wrong. For a game that develops piecemeal, this was upsetting.

I briefly considered whether the snafu had dealt a fatal blow to my objectivity, but reasoning that it had not I resolved to start afresh and move quickly through the opening sections. Unlike my first play-through I was able to save a young Ranger – Pvt. Jodie Bell – from the murderous goon who had taken her hostage, setting me on an altogether different path to the one I had previously embarked upon.

It’s a path that has proven to be one of the richest gaming experiences I’ve had in some time. Which is to say, folks, that Wasteland 3 is very good indeed.

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Griefhelm: The Verdict

Griefhelm: The Verdict

Griefhelm is a side-scrolling medieval-them-up made by Johnny Dale Lonack and published by Thorrnet Publishing. It see’s you, yes YOU dear reader, enter a series of duels in a quest to, well, erm, it’s not actually clear, but still, QUEST! During a series of battles you’ll progress, level up and achieve ultimate victory.

Does it land the kill, or are we parrying out of, erm, fun?

Let’s find out.

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The Suicide of Rachel Foster – The Verdict

The Suicide of Rachel Foster – The Verdict

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.

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Project CARS 3 – The Verdict

Project CARS 3 – The Verdict

The release of Project CARS 3 caught me slightly off guard, and that shouldn’t be of much surprise as recent racing game focus at The Reticule has been on art of rally, F1 2020 and Dirt 5. Development has again been handled by Slightly Mad Studios with Namco Bandai handling publishing duties, even though Slightly Mad are now part of the Codemasters empire. Having sunk a few hours into the game, I wonder whether the change of ownership of Slightly Mad has had an impact on the game itself with a few elements not quite hooking up as they could have done.

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BPM: Bullets Per Minute – The Verdict

BPM: Bullets Per Minute – The Verdict

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.

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Röki – The Verdict

Röki – The Verdict

Röki had me from the moment Tove, our protagonist, and her little brother, Lars, arrive home at the beginning of the game’s extended prologue. Home being a quaint cabin near the lake, surrounded by layers of dense trees and, beyond them, snow-capped mountains. The place is beautiful, but look past the halcyon visage and you’ll start to notice the cracks.

The lonely wind chimes. The crumpled well. The depleted snowman. The two grave stones. Each one has a story to tell, each one painting a picture of a fragmented family with a big, mum-sized hole in the centre.

Home brings a new depth to Tove’s vocal expressions (the characters express themselves with aural gestures that evoke context-dependent emotions). There’s a hint of sadness and longing, but also of a strength and resilience that’s a result of that pain. This sense of living with and surviving loss hangs over the entire game, lending Röki real poignancy and emotional complexity.

It’s not something I expected from a game that looked like a fun combination of cute and scary built around Scandinavian folklore, but that’s exactly what Polygon Treehouse have done. It’s what makes Röki one of the best games I’ve played all year.

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Mortal Shell – The Verdict

Mortal Shell – The Verdict

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.

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The Persistence – The Verdict

The Persistence – The Verdict

The world of VR gaming beyond Half-Life: Alyx isn’t really on my radar for a myriad of reasons, but what that lack of awareness means is that when a title like The Persistence comes along on the Switch, I can play it like a standard first-person horror without initially knowing that it was originally designed for both VR and standard play.

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Beyond Blue – The Verdict

Beyond Blue – The Verdict

I adore the ocean, so whenever a game like E-Line Media’s Beyond Blue pops up, I’m right there. The video-game is an ideal medium for ocean exploration, capable of creating the illusion of a vast expanse of blue and its uncharted depths and evoking feelings of utter isolation, which can be felt as either peaceful or terrifying, depending on your inclinations.

For me, it’s often both. So, before I get into Beyond Blue itself, I’m going to dig a little into why video-games helped nurture those twin feelings of love and fear.

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