Every iteration of Norco, from the game’s initial demo to the release of the first act, has clarified its weird, haunting voice that little bit more. That’s an obvious enough observation, but it was a voice that promised more than most. And as each iteration expanded the art’s dimensions, that voice’s potential was amplified. Still, I was uncertain of its reach. Now Norco has arrived, having deliriously flung open its doors, and my first trip down the rabbit hole is over.
Thinking about it some hours later, I’m pretty sure it’s one of the best games ever made – or at least a fresh direction of travel for the medium.
I see a mustard yellow sky with stars like snowdrops as I climb. Scaling the peek, I sprint across terracotta sand to the next rise. Ascending towards an angry cloud lashed with gold lightning. Dust or ash or both tumble from the cloud. I don’t know what’s up there, but there’s lots of transparent, crystal-like forms in the area, each one percolating with gold particles. Presumably the cloud and the crystals are bonded. A sense of foreboding builds the closer I get. A similar feeling hit me half an hour earlier, as I stood beneath a set of interlocking stone platforms rotating far above the ground. Ashen ground that spewed endless plumes of smoke, dashed here and there with red.
But there’s nothing to fear. This is Sable. No evil needs vanquishing nor villain confronting in this gorgeous, cel-shaded land. Even the giant beetles don’t bite.
I live in the UK. It would be underselling the political situation here to say the past few weeks have been an exudation of shit. My instincts are to follow such events with bloodshot eyes. To shower in the shit. Throw in January and February, where it’s eternally wet, cold, and grey, and you’ve got an especially exhausted, probably blubbering, Ross.
A pair of like-minded friends retreated to Barbados. Unable to afford such an extravagance, I stepped into Scarf. Admittedly, it’s not quite the same thing, but stay with me.
“We’re just too hot for this old rickety thing to handle.”
Verona Beach – a chill place to spend the summer. Especially in a rent-free apartment previously occupied by your cousin. Kind of him to offer you the space, even if he’s one of the most obnoxious and interfering people you’ll ever meet. But hey, families – can’t pick ‘em.
But you can pick lovers, and that’s part of the reason you’re here. See, you’ve never had a date. Not even once. Your cousin, under some duress from your mother, has been assigned your wingman, but it won’t be long before you’re able to make connections at your own pace. Connections that have some very interesting quirks…
The dimension of Quake’s evil has the power to possess. We see its dark influence in the corrupted soldiers of fallen portal stations and the Eldritch structures that blot a netherworld beyond space and time. That dark influence has now taken possession of Machine Games, and they have channelled it into the game’s fourth official expansion, Dimension of the Machine.
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.
“So much misguided effort pursuing only the shadow of the big picture – why?”
I’d been anticipating Backbone for some time, but I didn’t go into it with an excited smile. Not quite. That isn’t because it was released to polarising reviews, but rather because of the developer’s response to that reception. It goes without saying these developers put everything into their game, and goddamn, they have every right to stand by it with confidence and pride.
Attempting to get away with homicide in the presence of a detective is pure folly, but that’s never stopped Agatha Christie’s villains, has it? Still, they all stumble in the end – Poirot and his fellow sleuths are just that good, ain’t they?
Overboard! has no such detective figure (well, not quite), so the plan to push my broke, fascist-sympathising husband into the ocean and claim his life insurance ought to be a doddle. But it turns out – can you believe it? – murder just isn’t that simple.
Resident Evilhas taken many shapes since its inception.Survival horror, light gun shooter, third person adventure, online cooperative game, and, with 2017’s Resident Evil 7, first-person horror. This latest shape was fitting, in a way: the very first Resident Evil was conceived as a first-person game, before the limitations of the PlayStation forced Capcom to abandon it. At the time ofResident Evil 7’s release, though, it was a return to the survival horror that once defined Capcom’s multifaceted franchise.
And it was quite good.
Now, after two years of remakes, we at last have the eighth instalment – Village. It, too, is good. Very good, actually.