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.
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.
The first time I ever played Stalker, a friendly group of soldiers helpfully took the time to impart a great deal of advice about how to stay alive. They told me what to look out for, where to travel and how to stay safe in the Zone, Stalker’s terrifying and sinister take on Chernobyl and its surrounding area.
I thanked the men for their advice and watched them slowly walk up the distant hill, where they were immediately set upon and devoured by a pack of mutant dogs.
This memory of my first encounter with the Zone has stuck with me ever since – a powerful lesson in how unpredictable and dangerous the world of Stalker was. It’s also one of the reasons I’m so excited by today’s reveal of Stalker 2 during the Xbox Game Showcase.
The remake game is a tricky business. If you change too much, you’re accused of betraying the spirit of the original; if you change too little, you’re accused of being slavishly devoted to it. Creative liberties or creative bankruptcy aren’t the only pitfalls, but they’re two of the biggest, and it’s a challenging tightrope to walk.
Right or wrong, Formula 1 came back this past weekend with a stonking good race in Austria, and this week Codemasters also return with F1 2020, a tour-de-force of a racing game.
It’s been a few years since I last delivered my Verdict on one of the F1 titles, but with a raft of eye-catching new features lined up for F1 2020 I had to take a closer look. Normally I would have been playing this on the PC, but the new splitscreen mode made my choice of platforms for me, PlayStation 4 it was. …
“This is not how death is supposed to be.”
So intones the recently deceased William Mason upon finding himself in purgatory and not…where, exactly? Collectively, we’ve lots of ideas on what the afterlife – should there be one – has in store for us. But we don’t know. It’s what makes this mortal plane of ours such a terrifying thrill.
Not so with video games. We know where death leads us: back to the last checkpoint or a swift return to the previous quick save. Death is a momentary impediment to progress, which is just as well because there’s often a shitload of baddies determined to scrub us from existence.
Weep for William Mason, then, who certainly didn’t bank on the afterlife being chock full of gun-toting ghouls and monsters. But then he probably hadn’t expected to look like a stylish cross between Ghost Rider and Overwatch’s McCree, either. You could do worse. Swings and roundabouts ‘an all that.
Slipping into Mason’s dusty boots I push my way into an empty saloon, which serves as the gateway to purgatory: a waiting room within a waiting room. I’ve little idea of what’s in store for me. I came here for West of Dead’s striking cel-shaded aesthetics, which create a world that often feels like a thick layer of ash caught in a time loop – forever frittering away without losing an inch. There’s farms and mines and towns, but in the words of one of our latter day cowboys, they’re more like someone’s faded memory of farms and mines and towns.
And that’s it as far as my knowledge is concerned. I was just excited to play something new.
The saloon’s sole occupant, the barman, doesn’t give any hints. He might have said “roguelike” and provided a definition, but instead seemed merely content to muse there’s east and there’s west.
East for the good souls.
West for the bad. Of course.
I’ll be going west, then. …
Following the recent unveiling of DEATHLOOP Arkane Lyon, I felt that a return to Dishonored was on the cards. A few things struck me, but foremost was just how well the prison break that opens the game proper lays out some aspects of the playstyles on offer, and alerts you to the type of world you will encounter outside the walls of Coldridge Prison.
A browse around any mainstream gaming website (sadly, there are rivals to The Reticule out there) over the past day or so would have revealed that we have passed the 10th anniversary of the release of Red Dead Redemption and that The Witcher 3 has turned five. And as I look through our archives, it saddens me that we have not covered this game as it deserves. Somehow we managed to deliver not one, but two Verdicts on its predecessor. Even then, I ended up writing about it myself as well. The third one though? Apart from a mass of pre-release coverage, the most we talked about The Witcher 3 was in Our Favourite Games of The Reticule Years. …