One of my all time favourite games is Baldur’s Gate II. I played an unbelievable amount of it over the years after it released. And whilst I tried a number of other games set in the same world, even made with the same engine, I couldn’t find anything that hit me in the same way. With recently releases like Tyranny and Pillars of Eternity bringing back those classic CRPGs, I decided to give one of them a try (and a thank you to my wife for buying it for me).
So Torment: Tides of Numenera turned out to be pretty damn great. The main plot and side stories were engaging, the characters were varied and interesting, and the gameplay allowed you to deal with situations in a lot of different ways. Pity about the bugs and the occasional difficulty spikes. Still, there was a world full of different (and often very creative) things to discover and I enjoyed my time there.
My wife bought me Nier: Automata for my birthday. This is a game I’ve been wanting to play since release and now I might finally get around to it. Pretty much anything made by Platinum grabs my interest by the simple virtue of my having never played a game made by them that I didn’t immediately adore. Metal Gear Rising anyone? I’ll get onto this one pretty soon I think.
Another birthday present I received that I’m very keen to try is Pandemic: Reign of Cthulhu. Our family would play Pandemic a lot, so any opportunity to play more of it is welcome. I had heard of this one but didn’t know anything about it. Having read the instructions, I’m quite excited to give it a try as this feels like more than a simple reskin. The game plays in mostly the same way but with some significant twists, such as Old Ones rising and altering the game’s rules in place of epidemics. Plus the board looks gorgeous which certainly helps.
I picked up Marvel Vs. Capcom Infinite at the weekend ago on a whim. I enjoy playing Street Fighter V with my daughter and figured something with Marvel characters in might be fun. We’ve enjoyed playing it together (although I regret playing as Dormamu at one point as he seemed to scare her a bit), but I haven’t touched the story mode yet. Personally I find the gameplay a little too…floaty? I don’t think that’s the right word. But I feel like none of the attacks really have any impact. I do enjoy fighting games, in spite of being terrible at them, but this one’s moment to moment action hasn’t grabbed me as well as I’d hoped.
My new PC finally arrived, ready to take on some games that need a GPU more powerful than a cheese sandwich. I’ve yet to really try anything particularly taxing on it, but I didn pick up the XCOM 2 expansion and I’m keen to give it a play. Any opportunity to hop back into that game is one I happily take.
Oh, and I downloaded and played Final Fantasy: All the Bravest. But more on that another time…
So what about you? Have you started up anything new and/or fun recently? Something freshly released? Or maybe back to the backlog or a classic that you’re returning to? Let me know!
To the left. To the left. Quarter-circle forward and punch!
No, it’s not some crazy new move that all the kids are down with (I’m so cool) these days. Mind you, anything would be better than “dabbing” at this point. No, it’s fusing two disparate games together into something new and exciting! With the seeming success of Mario + Rabbids fusing Mario, Rabbids and XCOM together, it got me thinking about what other games could be combined into something amazing. Here are a few that crossed my mind. Expect them to be terrible.
Left 4 Dead + Warcraft 3 = Left 4 War
So I think this sort of thing probably exists already, but if it doesn’t it could be fun I suppose. This would basically be a hero focused RTS zombie survival game, probably based played on PC using a mouse. You and your AI or player controlled allies fight your way through the zombie horde, collecting weapons and items as you go. Each character would have their own special abilities, and the games would culminate in the same way as Left 4 Dead, with a grand set piece to escape the zombie menace. Throw in some Warcraft characters for good measure and I reckon you’ve got some potential there.
Street Fighter + Magic: The Gathering = Street Magic!
Prepare for a horrible microtransaction filled monstrosity. Picture Street Fighter, with all its fireballs and ultra combos in tact, but with collectible card game mechanics! Imagine having your character, but with special moves locked behind cards that can level up. Ryu doesn’t have his dragon punch until you’ve found the card and Guile can’t throw a sonic boom until you’ve unlocked it. Of course you’ll be able to spend real money to buy new card packs to unlock these attacks. Perhaps you could create your own character to take online to challenge players who have spent all that money to get the best character possible. I’m pretty certain this is something Capcom would actually consider, and that scares me slightly.
Overwatch + Pokémon = Pokéwatch!
Ok, I actually kind of like this one. A first/third person multiplayer game in which you choose which Pokémon to play as and have access to its associated abilities. Now here’s the thing, in the loot boxes would be passes to go out into the wild and catch new Pokémon to add to your roster. Think of the potential for team compositions! It would be nearly impossible to balance but the possibility for objective based games with huge variation in team setups sounds pretty great to me.
Forza + Dance Dance Revolution = Forza Motorsport Revolution
Look, just hear me out on this one. I’m thinking one for in the arcades, in which you have a dance platform to throw your feet around in time to the music. The better you do, the faster your car goes. In front of you though is a steering wheel for controlling the ever accelerating vehicle. Obviously things like braking would be accounted for in some way but this sounds like it could be insanely silly fun. Or a recipe for severe injury.
Bayonetta + Metal Gear Solid = Metal Gear Rising
Because sometimes the planets align and something magical happens. Lunatic story? Check! Lunatic action? Check! A cyborg ninja fighting giant stompy robots with a sword before taking on a cybernetically enhanced senator? Where do I sign?!
How about you? Are there any games that you could slam together into something terribly fantastic or fantastically terrible? I like to think the gaming community has more imagination that most publishers these days so there must be something out there! Tell me, I could use a good laugh!
I’m sure I’ve mentioned before (I’m too lazy to look through my posts to find it) that video games are a great medium for creating whatever the hell you want. Fancy a cooking game in which you’re an elephant chef plotting world domination through amazing cuisine? You could probably make that. Somehow. Having said that, just because you can doesn’t mean you should. Here are 5 games that decided on including something bizarre and out of place.
Oh, and spoilers obviously.
Assassin’s Creed 2 – Fist Fighting the Pope
This is generally considered to be the best in the series (although I preferred Black Flag) as it refined the previous game and removed the tedious bits but hadn’t quite reached the level of feature creep of the later games. As Ezio (and sometimes Desmond) we murder our way around renaissance Italy to find the piece of Eden that can control people’s minds. Or something to that effect anyway. At any rate, the magical McGuffin ends up in the hands of a bad man who has become Pope!
Cue a final boss battle to prevent the evil Pope’s dreams of world domination by punching a fat old man in the face repeatedly. After all that had come before, it was something of an anticlimactic final confrontation. If they’d played it for laughs then they might have gotten away with it, but instead it was done with all the gravitas of any other final boss confrontation. The cutscene afterwards was confusing (although fairly cool if you were into the overarching plot) and the whole thing felt a bit of a let down. At least they didn’t have him summon Jesus for a final beatdown.
Final Fantasy X – Tidus Laughing
I couldn’t not include this. Whilst at this point in the game, FFX was fairly light-hearted, this seemed completely out of place. Tidus is told to laugh at the ocean for reasons. And laugh he does! With the most painful fake laugh in the history of mankind.
I’m sure I read somewhere that this scene comes across better in the Japanese version of the game. But that doesn’t matter to me. This was cringey and painful.
999 – Elevator Sex
Yep, you read that right. 999 is basically Saw with time travel (sort of…it’s complicated). 9 people are trapped in a sinking boat full of numbered doors and potential for nasty, violent death. As our hero and his newly found comrades explore their seafaring prison the find themselves occasionally split up from the rest of their group. Our hero and his childhood friend find themselves alone and contemplating exploring the lower decks via an elevator.
At least that’s what it’s meant to be (and in fact is). But due to some extremely painful miscommunication, our character thinks that his friend is propositioning sex in an elevator. “Down there… I’d get soaking wet…” June says with Junpei assuming she means something other than the elevator traveling down to a flooded deck. It felt like such a bizarre scene in an otherwise pretty serious game. It stuck out like a sore thumb to me.
Mass Effect 2 – Mordin Singing
Out of place or not, this was just brilliant. Mordin is a seriously successful Salarian Scientist (say that after 3 pints!) who is added to your crew part way through the game. Pretty handy in a fight and always on hand to do offer insight whilst Garrus is busy calibrating everything, he apparently has a soft spot for singing. Gilbert and Sullivan songs in particular.
Press him enough and he sings. And boy is it funny.
I am the very model of a scientist Salarian
I’ve studies species turian, asari, and batarian
I’m quite good at genetics as a subset of biology
Because I am an expert which I know is a tautology.
It was completely out of left field for me, and whilst it stood out as an oddity in an otherwise fairly serious game, it was funny (and well done) enough to stand out in a positive way.
Heavy Rain – Press X to Shaun
This is cheating because it’s a glitch but IT’S MY LIST AND I’M CHEATING SO WHAT! Heavy Rain is a game full of heavy themes. Self mutilation, childhood trauma, and sexual assault can come into it depending on the routes you take. All this can be made a whole lot lighter thanks to the Shaun glitch.
I have no idea how this is triggered, but doing it results in the lead character, Ethan, yelling “Shaun!” every time X is pressed, regardless of the scene he is in. Driving? “SHAUN!” Having a conversation? “SHAUN!” Having awkward sex with your new lady friend? “SHAAAAAAUN!” It’s utter gold.
What do you think? Are there any stupid or bizarre moments that you’d like to include? I almost mentioned what’s hidden in Papyrus’ head in Undertale but I feel it fits into the game pretty well. How about you?
I’m struggling to get motivated to write up individual games that I have finished in the last few weeks, so instead here’s a quick look at what I’ve been playing this week!
Year Walk – iOS
This was on sale for £1 a couple of weeks ago and I’ve been intending to try it for a while due to it’s interesting art style and supposedly creepy atmosphere. I’ve racked up a whole 20 minutes so far and would consider it a modernised point and click adventure. It makes good use of touch controls but I feel mechanics are under explained. I had no idea I could spin a dolls head around to make it dance to give me a clue. Standard point and click moon logic.
I’m going to persevere with this one though. I like the atmosphere, and the sound is excellent. I’m sure there’s a story too but it’s quite unclear right now. I can always pop open a guide to get an idea of what to do next if I’m stuck too. Not bad so far!
Destiny – Xbox One
Yep, the first one. Not that new fangled fancy one with all the graphics and whatnot. A friend of mine happened to have a spare disc of the base game and gave it to me which I’m very grateful for. So far I’ve reached level 16 as a Warlock. It was fairly easy to start with but some of the Strikes can get rather overwhelming with the sheer volume of enemies.
I’m enjoying it all the same. The combat is pretty satisfying for the most part and the ever increasing power of item drops is as addictive as ever. The bosses are a bit bullet spongy for my liking, taking far longer to put down than I’d like, but I’m having fun with it for now!
Redout – Xbox One
Big thanks to B3 for providing me with the review code for this one (keep an eye out there for the review popping up). I reviewed this last week and found it to be ludicrously fast. It’s somewhat like Wipeout and other anti-gravity racers, but with the speed turned up to infinity.
In addition to the speed, it’s also insanely hard. I reached Class 3 (of 4) before finding it a little too hard to finish races anywhere above last due to my feeble old man reactions not being up to snuff. Thankfully the quick restart times meant I could plug away at it for a while without sitting around on a loading screen. It’s incredibly polished but some might consider it to be (cliché alert!) the Dark Souls of anti-grav racers.
Elder Sign – PC
It may surprise you to learn that I like board games rather a lot. The difficulty is sometimes getting a group together to play, but also the setup and tear down times (Marvel Legendary is great fun but now takes about 20 minutes to set up thanks to all the expansions). For this reason, I like that digital versions of great board games are available. Elder Sign: Omens is based on the board game of the (almost) same name and involves dice rolls being assigned to events to earn the titular elder signs with the goal of preventing ancient gods of Lovecraft’s stories from devouring the world!
As a digital version, it sticks to the board game rather well, with plenty of different challenges and characters to choose from. BUT. Where is the multiplayer?! Yes, I suppose you could play it locally by hot seating, but there is no online whatsoever. Considering you could play and finish a game of this in around 20 minutes, an online co-op mode would fit right in. Throw in a chat box and you have a pretty complete system. I have no idea why this would be omitted. Still, it’s fun to play here and there as it is.
So how about you? What are you playing? Anything good? Something terrible? Let me know below, and happy gaming!
Yes, it’s as hard as the video game. Also more complicated.
So Dark Souls then. Have I mentioned that series before? The one I really like? I’m not sure if I have. Either way, it’s a series I’m a fan of for many reasons, including its precision timing and learning a solid process to get through the challenges presented to you. So when I saw that Steamforge Games had a Kickstarter campaign for a board game based on it, I had to back it. I mean, I tried not to, but my hands just took over control of my computer and backed it for me. They even backed some of the expansions too. I’d like to say their addiction to Kickstarter has passed, but I think they may need to go into rehab. Anyway, I wasn’t sure how well Dark Souls would transition into board game form but the team have put together something that captures some of the essence of the video game, and works well as a board game most of the time.
Opening up the box, you are immediately confronted with a black sheet of paper reading “YOU DIED”, which is lovely. It’s quite prophetic really as you will die repeatedly in this (much like in the video game) and fail in your quest over and over. In the box you’ll find a number of board pieces to construct the play area, plenty of tokens and dice. Oh and the minis. Mini is not a good name for all of these as some of them are huge by most board game standards. The component quality is really rather good, with plenty of detail on the minis and boards. I will say some of the tokens are a little on the small side for my liking though.
Dark Souls is designed to be played with 1 to 4 players cooperatively, with the goal of defeating a mini boss and a final boss. Players begin at the bonfire with a certain number of “sparks” (the game’s equivalent of lives) and move from room to room confronting groups of enemies and traps. Each room has a randomly selected card dictating the enemies and items in the environment. Completing a room will earn a number of “souls” (the game’s currency) that can be spent on leveling up character attributes and purchasing items from the blacksmith. If a single player should die during an encounter, everyone returns to the bonfire and the number of sparks is reduced by 1. Run out of sparks and it’s game over.
Encounters are hard, which is in keeping with the source material. Each player can move one space and attack on their turn. Players can move further by spending stamina, a risky move as your stamina is also tied to your health. Attacking is based on dice rolls depending on your weapon. Some weapons allow you to use multiple black dice (fewer successful sides) whilst others use fewer blue or orange dice (higher chance for success and greater damage). Stamina can be spent here too, allowing for a more powerful attack that may have additional effects. After a player takes their actions, all enemies take theirs based on their associated card with most of them moving either towards or away from the nearest or most recent player and attacking assuming they are in range. This means you could be attacked many times before having an opportunity to do anything much it yourself. You can spend stamina to attempt a dodge roll (depending on your equipment) which will negate all damage or reduce it by blocking, but in most cases you’ll get hit very hard.
Players have a single use “Estus flask” to restore their health and stamina, as well as a coin to re-roll one die. These are all restored upon death. Each character class also as a specific once per life action that can help in a pinch. There is a fairly large emphasis on having good equipment (weapons, armour, shields, spells, etc.) on your character to survive, as enemies hit hard. Death can come quickly, even at the hands of basic enemies if you’re under-equipped or if you have an unlucky set of dice rolls. This is especially the case for bosses who play in a different way to most enemies. Bosses have a set of cards that dictate their actions and attacks. These are based on their character from the games, with the Titanite Demon having wide, sweeping attacks whilst the Dancer can attack multiple times. They only have a few attacks that are not shuffled after they are used, allowing players to learn a pattern. When they are damaged to a certain level, a new, more powerful card is added to their rotation to mix things up. I really like this mechanic as it ties into the video game’s idea of learning how to fight a boss in order to take it down. The bosses are very tough, but learning the path to victory against them feels good and they are definitely the stand out experience.
Fighting the bosses is great and works really well but the standard encounters suffer and the game has something of a pacing issue. Upon death or returning to the bonfire, all enemies respawn (again, just like the game) to allow you to gain more souls for equipment and leveling up. This means that if you fail at a boss you need to slog through standard enemies again. Whilst you can set up the boards to have shortcuts (a nice nod to the series again), it still slows down the game considerably. With lucky rolls you could get through a game in around 90 minutes, but it’s much more likely to take a lot longer.
The luck aspect is the other issue I have with the game. Whilst the bosses go a long way towards replicating the video game experience, the standard enemies are much more based on luck. If you have a series of poor dice rolls, you may as well start over. I get that the feeling of despair and failure is a large part of the video game, but luck really isn’t. Players learn to skillfully dispatch opponents, not hope for a lucky turn to achieve victory. This is something I wish they had given more thought to.
However, once you get to a boss and manage to take it down through careful positioning (and yes, a touch of luck) is quite satisfying. If you can put up with the early slog then you can have a lot of fun with this. There’s a good feeling to be had when you manage to acquire and equip a powerful item and finally get to throw those orange dice for serious damage. In the coming months there will be additional bosses and sets released (I’m (not) ashamed to say that I’ve ordered a few) to add more to the game. I’m quite excited to take on Sif when it arrives. If you’re in the market for a substantial co-op board game then you could do a lot worse than picking this up. Praise the Sun \o/
Look, everyone does a game of the year thing these days. And if there’s one thing I’ve learned in life, it’s that you should totally jump on the bandwagon. There wouldn’t be a bandwagon if it wasn’t worth it! So here’s me, joining the party this year with 5 games that I totally think are worth your time this year.
Usual rules apply. One game per series (which is pretty easy to stick to here), and games that I’ve played. My opinion and my opinion only and all that. Before starting though, here’s a couple of disappointments. Games that I would have thought a little while ago would have been a shoe-in for this list until I actually played them. Gears of War 4 is something I was looking forward to being a fan of the series, but it just didn’t hit the mark for me. I think its time has passed, and other games have very much surpassed it. Virginia was the other disappointment. It looked like a Twin Peaks inspired Firewatch, but I couldn’t have been more let down. A story line I couldn’t begin to follow (even more so than Twin Peaks itself!), next to no interaction, and silent characters who made the plot even harder to understand. I can’t abide it in games when a character has worked something out that’s relevant to the plot, but what they worked out isn’t communicated to the player. Anyway, enough moaning, on with the cream of the crop!
Layers of Fear
Starting off with something nice and festive here. Layers of Fear was a really interesting horror game released fully in February. Rather than being full of jump scares and “scary” monsters, this one plays with your perception of reality. As a troubled artist, you return to your family home to complete your masterpiece and in doing so travel through a nightmare fueled memory of your past to gather what you need to complete it.
The story is quite engaging as the bizarre images hint at the madness that happened here in the past. The house changes when you aren’t looking which leads to some interesting puzzles as doors appear where there was a fireplace before, and disturbing child-like sketches appear on walls behind you. Whilst there is some light puzzle solving, this would come under “walking simulator”, so if that sort of thing puts you off then this isn’t for you. But if you’re looking for a unique horror experience, give it a shot. Don’t bother with the DLC though, it really didn’t add anything of value.
I was torn between this game and one that will crop up later on for my favourite game of the year. I was rather apprehensive for a DOOM remake, as I’m sure many other were. But id knocked it out of the park with this one, it took what made the original game fun and modernised it without giving into the temptation of applying modern FPS tropes. No regenerating health here. Only being allowed to carry 2 weapons? No, sir! Press F to pay respects can stay where you left it.We’ve got fast paced, gorgeous looking one man warfare against the forces of hell.
Pretty much the only nod to modern gaming sensibilities is the glory kill system for executing weakened enemies, but even that serves a purpose in terms of gameplay. The story, whilst simplistic, is told well. This is an example of a game that does the silent protagonist well; everything the Doom marine does presents him as someone who doesn’t care what is going on. He exists to kill hellspawn, and nothing is going to slow him down. Crucially, the game is mechanically excellent. Everything feels sharp and fun to use with a movement system that makes traversal and combat fun but also lets you use glory kills in different ways. Typing this makes me want to play it again.
If you’ve seen my Facebook profile before, you may be aware that I loveXCOM. From the original game way back when, to the remakes in recent years. I even liked XCOM: Interceptor, the space combat/base management fusion game. The 2012 remake was fantastic and I poured a lot of hours into it, so it should be no surprise that I was very happy to see a follow up. Interestingly, this game assumed you failed to finish the original (which was pretty hard) and the aliens took over the world. You now lead a guerilla fighting force, developing weapons to take the fight to the aliens and reclaim Earth.
Annoyingly it didn’t have the best initial release, with there being framerate issues, but a few updates later and it became a lot more stable. The game itself is as good as before, with some new features including new units, weapons and mission types. The enemies are smarter and more varied (the terror mission shapeshifting creatures are evil!) demanding new strategies to defeat. A great addition is the concealment and ambush feature. Being as you are a secretive rebel force, you start most missions in hiding which allows you to set up the perfect ambush for enemy patrols. This makes the missions have a better balance than the previous game’s gradually inching forward, as you need to scout the area and plan your attack rather than try to trigger a group of enemies then hide and pick them off. I’ll probably do a fresh run of this game in the new year.
Another walking simulator I hear you cry? Yes, yes it is. Walking simulator has been used as an insult for this genre for various reasons. Normally that there isn’t much in the way of interaction. I agree with this in games such as Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture and Virginia, in which the story happens to you and you just move the camera. Limited interactivity in a medium built on interactivity almost defeats the object of what you’re doing. Firewatch gets around that pretty well by allowing you to interact in a number of ways.
The story is gripping (although some felt the ending was a bit of a let down) as far as I’m concerned. Your relationship with your fellow ranger, who you communicate with through radio, is the real centre piece of the story. You will often be given options of what to say to her, which will change your relationship for better or worse. The way you approach certain situations will alter future moments in the game, and whilst those differences are only in the dialogue, the characters are so well written and acted that you will find yourself caring about how you are seen by others in the game world. It’s not a terribly long experience, but it’s one that has stuck with me since its release over 10 months ago.
The other game in the running for my favourite game of the year, and with damn good reason. I described this as near perfect a gaming experience. Everything in this game is expertly crafted, from the art style and animations, to the puzzles and overall atmosphere.
Playdead, who previously made Limbo, have outdone themselves here. Not only is it gorgeous, it’s also mechanically excellent. New ways of interacting with the world are introduced to you, but you won’t find any of them used over and over again to pad out the puzzles and game length. Mind controlling other characters happens a number of times, but never in the same way keeping the game fresh throughout its play length. The story is intriguing and open to interpretation, with a secret ending that makes you question everything you’ve experienced so far. I can’t overstate how excellent this game is. Go and play it.
Some other games I enjoyed this year. Pony Island was an interesting game about a satanic arcade game. Finishing it was certainly not the end of the story, and there are a lot of secrets to be found in this deceptively simplistic world. Oxenfree was fantastic as far as I’m concerned. Another walking simulator, but done in a different style with a wonderfully creepy atmosphere and great story about coming to terms with loss. Dark Souls 3 was an excellent final entry in an excellent series. Horrifying bosses, exhilarating combat, and high challenge make this a satisfying experience for those willing to face its brutal world.
Oh, and Superhot is the most innovative shooter I’ve played in years.
Not a bad year for games all in all. Are there any from 2016 that you particularly enjoyed? Or am I flat out wrong? Let me know! And here’s to 2017! I’ll be taking a break for the Christmas holidays, so don’t expect much from me in the coming weeks. I’ll be back in the new year though, with plenty of words about games for your eyes to consume! See you then!
It has long been established that I like a good rhythm action game; a genre that hasn’t had many good releases recently. I think most people know that I also like horror games, especially those that delve in the madness tinged Lovecraftian styles of terror. I never once thought someone would consider making a horror themed rhythm action game though. But here we are with Thumper, a game in which a space beetle flies through some sort of wormhole towards a giant head thing, whilst terrifyingly intense industrial orchestral music (at least that’s how I’d describe it) pounds in your ears.
I would describe this game as staring into Satan’s kaleidoscope during a bad acid trip whilst listening to a black metal version of Stomp. Think of that what you will.
In its simplest form, the game plays like a very basic Amplitude clone. The is one lane (sometimes more) that you fly along, and you press X when you fly over a note. There are gates that you pass through by holding X, and corners that must be navigated by holding X and pressing a direction. The whole game is played with the X button and the analogue stick. So far, so simple. But good god does this get difficult. It wouldn’t be unfair to call this the Dark Souls of rhythm action. You learn or you die.
Each level introduces a new layer of gameplay. Leaping up and slamming down on alternating notes, multiple lanes, and killer snakes. This game is weird. Anyway, by the end of the game, you’ll have to make use of all the maneuvers in rapid succession, without missing a single note whilst going absurdly fast. Mechanically this game is near perfect in that regard. It teaches you each new skill and than forces you learn how to use it flawlessly before you confront the boss. And forces is the right word here; you either learn to use your skills perfectly or you will not progress. This is not a simple undertaking.
Just to give you an idea of just how fast this game can be. This is a pretty tame level too…
A level is broken up into about 20 sections, each of which taking between 30 seconds and a couple of minutes. A whole level would probably take about 20 minutes to complete, but spending over an hour on one was closer to my experience. The stages are extremely difficult, throwing corners, notes, walls and lane changes at you at ludicrous speeds testing first your reactions, and then your memory as you inevitably die. All this whilst the pounding, intimidating soundtracks assaults your ears. It’s an incredibly intense experience, made even more so when a boss appears.
Bosses can only be defeated by playing a section perfectly, allowing you to fire a shot at the target. Do this 4 times and it’s job done. That’s easier said than done though, there’s a lot to memorise (and I mean memorise, you will die) coupled with the music and the boss taking up huge swathes of your view to confuse you and throw you off. It never felt cheap though, as everything is in time to the music, meaning that mistakes are because you weren’t focused enough, or you forgot what was coming next. The boss designs are interesting too, ranging from tentacle triangles to the recurring Crakhed who becomes more and more deformed and horrifying from level to level. Oh, and in case it wasn’t hard enough, there’s a Hardcore mode where death is permanent.
Now, this game can be playing in VR. In fact I assumed it could only be laying in VR until I did a little research. I get the feeling that the game was pushed as a VR product to try and sell more units (especially on the PS4), but I don’t see what VR would really add to this. Considering this is playing in 3rd person, I’d have though VR would be a rather odd experience. As I understand it, it allows you to look around the environment as you’re traveling, but considering how focused you need to be I would think looking around would be a mistake. Anyway, it works without VR very well.
Thumper looks gorgeous, with lots of interesting effects around the track and the aforementioned detailed bosses. You probably won’t have a lot of time to enjoy the graphics as you’ll be concentrating on the rhythm, but it does look great. It runs excellently as well, with no frame rate drops that I could notice. The sound is fantastic as well (which makes sense considering the genre), but it isn’t just the music. The sound effects work very well too. The clang as you swing around a corner, the blast as you slam down onto a note to attack a boss, and the snakes hissing their was past you all sound great. And the sound of drums heralding the arrival of one of the enemies constantly filled me with dread. Seriously, that guy was a jerk.
Thumper was developed by Drool, a two man team! I played the game on Playstation 4 and would strongly recommend you at least check this out. It’s a totally different gaming experience, just be prepared that you may not finish it due to its high difficulty. An absolute treat!