Erica is a genuinely terrific achievement. As far as the ‘PlayLink’ aspect goes – even if the game is not officially part of Sony’s range – there’s nothing better out here. Technically it feels solid as a rock, with gloriously smooth transitions from gameplay back to FMV cut-scenes. You immediately feel part of the world and it never really gets old. You want to do right by Erica the moment you meet her and there’s very few games that offer this level of interaction, even if as a whole, the game is about the journey rather than the destination.
PC Building Simulator on PS4 is an enchanting game, channelling creativity and problem solving through the medium of making and fixing computers that even a PC newcomer like I can get to grips with and wholeheartedly enjoy. I do wish the game had spent a little more time explaining 3DMark scoring and overclocking as these are areas that it skips over too quickly for my liking but otherwise, this is a game that's easy to access, even easier to lose an afternoon too and is a great translation of the PC version.
Damsel gets a middling recommendation. If you’re looking for something you can file under “slightly difficult to get used to, eternity to master” then this would be in that rather specific category. As I said at the start, this won’t look out of place on the Switch or Steam library, as those two are bread and butter for this kind of game. Whereas on the supposed powerhouse that is the Xbox, it just seems like a waste of potential. Granted, this is only an indie title, so there isn’t going to be mass dollar behind it. It’s just that the end result on the Microsoft flagship is a bit of a damp squib.
It’s easy to pick up, it’s difficult to master and offers badass bosses at the end of each world whilst sword-fighting robot viruses intent on taking over an old lady’s computer to a synthwave soundtrack blasting over beautifully designed neon-infused levels.
The human experience of being drawn into a cult full of deep, dark secrets and the emotional toll it weighs upon you is front and centre in Sagebrush and that’s what made this two-hour experience stand out to me. The slow pace is entirely purposeful, allowing you to soak up each moment and learn more about those who believed in Father James room to be understood, to be heard and ultimately, to be mourned.
Solo should have been two separate games really, one a standard cutesy platformer that you can throw on PSN and let people who enjoy puzzle platformers if that’s their bag and the other should have been a more meaningful journey where you do find out stuff about your past or present love or even if you’re suffering heartbreak. Being asked a question about sex and having such a personal question add nothing to the game is a bit of a bitter pill to swallow.
Bouncy Bullets is one of Petite Games’ better concepts but it’s a game that doesn’t make full use of its potential with its design. It’s a colourful game with an excellent soundtrack but the frame rate issues when using bounce pads, the thicker than custard AI and the shortness to the game relegate this to yet more Trophy Hunter fodder and little else. A real shame.
Aside from the vastly eclectic endings, the gameplay just isn’t enough to sustain it through several attempts to find them all. The gameplay never deviates from avoiding vision cones and knocking some people out if necessary. And as the game is encouraging you to experience it over and over again, it really needed a compelling reason to work your way to another ending. The premise and the endings are the clear standouts. It’s the bit in-between that makes it feel like The Church in The Darkness is a squandered opportunity.
The strengths of Wargroove come from the visuals and the gameplay, relegating the story to second place but that’s absolutely no problem for me. In order to get the most out of this game I really had to fall into it and I’m glad I did. There’s plenty to love about Wargroove.
Whatever your constitution, The Blackout Club gets a strong recommendation from me. It’s got a tense feel to it, some cultist shenanigans going on, and especially off the back of the latest Stranger Things series, it’s something a bit different in the horror ranks.
Horace is a very, very good game. A humour filled but emotionally charged plot delivered via beautiful and well-paced cut scenes, some of the most gorgeous pixel released this year, a smorgasbord of pop culture references and mini-games and a hand crafted feel to the platforming, as if everything has been placed with care and attention, combine into one of the most surprising games of 2019.
Nowhere Prophet is a stylish, slickly designed deck building adventure that’s one of the best in class. Combining narrative ties to the cards/Followers you collect has the surprising side effect (or maybe, desired effect?) to make you actually care about those brave enough to join you on this death road across a desert world where as they’d just be a culmination of numbers to use then discard in other games of this ilk.
The narrative and visual issues aside, the ultimate draw of this game is the complex, wonderful level designs and the intricate puzzles and they mountain over any serious concern I had with the game. Keep your head down and you should be able to crack Etherborn in around 3-4 hours, which is more than enough of this kind of gravity-puzzler for me.
Refunct is a short game but what’s there is well crafted. There’s layers of discoveries to be made in the way the game plays and how to overcome each puzzle and this title is designed in a way to make this as enjoyable and natural as possible. While it’s not the prettiest of games, it’s certainly not ugly either. There’s no innovation here, with everything gameplay mechanic on display appearing in other games in more intuitive ways, but if you’re after half an hour of relaxing, simplistic game play that feels as chilled as an ASMR video, Refunct will scratch that itch.
Sairento is one of the most comfortable PSVR games I've played, despite the high flying, high tempo nature of its content which is an incredible achievement and lays the groundwork for a sequel which can take this further. In and of itself though, Sairento needed a little more variety to its action (maybe focusing on first person platforming at times or adding more enemy types) to really send it to the top of its genre.