Forza Horizon 3 – Power Slide your Land Rover Around the Outback

I don’t know a huge amount about cars.  I know what a muscle car is.  I know that fitting 15 people into a Smart Car is probably quite hard.  I also know that drifting is about taking something designed to go forwards and trying to make it go sideways.  But if you ask me what an exhaust manifold is, I’d probably tell you it was someone tired of doing origami.

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I bet this person was fed up of doing origami.

In spite of my lack of vehicular knowledge, I do like a good racing game.  I enjoyed Rad Racer on the NES and played countless hours of Formula 1 Grand Prix and Grand Prix 2 on PC with my dad as a child.  Need For Speed, Gran Turismo, Forza Motorsport and so on have all had a lot of play time in my various machines over the years, but the series I have enjoyed the most for some time has been Forza.  The amount of options the series’ entries provide mean you can tune the game to be as much a hardcore simulation as you could a light-hearted arcade racer.  The Horizon iterations of the series tend to take the game more towards the latter direction, but there are certainly plenty of simulation options for your serious racing enthusiast.

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The rain effects look really rather good and make the tracks much harder to navigate. Especially in this Shelby.

Forza Horizon 3 places you in the shoes of a racing festival organiser (which is a departure from the previous entries in the series) based in Australia.  Your goal is simple: put on the best festival ever.  This might sound a tall order, but it really boils down to winning races in whatever vehicle you feel like driving at the time, pulling off stunts, and generally breaking the speed limit.  As you do these things, you earn fans which in turn unlocks more events and locations, as well as Showcase events (more on those later).  Races can be set up however you like, letting you change the number of laps, the time of day, even the type of car permitted in the event.  Being put in the role of the organiser really opens the game up, and prevents you from being forced to race a certain type of car in most of the races.

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BMW drivers eh?

There are also PR stunts, which include racing past speed cameras, pulling jumps of ramps, and completing the Bucket List (a set of car specific challenges).  Add to this the Showcase events that will have you racing against jet fighters, and you’ve got a racer with a lot of options at any given time.  The game is open world, meaning you can travel around the map as you see fit as you look for an event that takes your fancy.  And you’re never far from one.  The map is packed with races, secret cars (Barn Finds as they’re called in the series) and other activities but manages to not feel over crowded like some other open world games (take note Ubisoft).  I was never bored as there was always something different to try just a short drive away.

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The first Showcase has you racing a buggy through a jungle.

There’s also the obligatory online mode, including an online free roam, online races and events as well as a co-op campaign.  It really is a very feature rich game.  All that would be for nothing if the cars weren’t fun to drive, and they most certainly are.  Each class of car, and indeed each individual car, feels different to handle.  From the hard to control but powerful Dodge Charger, to the smooth handling of the Jaguar F-Type through hyper cars, off-road, and buggies.  There are a lot of different types and hundreds of cars to choose from so you’re bound to find something that’s fun to drive.  And because you can choose the type of car you want each race to be based on, you can pretty much pick a handful you enjoy and stick with those.  I’d say you’d be missing the point of the game, but it’s great that the game lets you play it how you want.

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The photo mode allows you to get some absolutely gorgeous pictures.

The game looks gorgeous, as is often the case with racing games these days.  The developers know it too, including a feature to take photos in the game and going as far as including photographing all of the cars as an additional challenge.  The environment is varied and interesting with a mix of desert, forest and towns, and combines well with the weather effects that shift as time passes.  The car interiors are all individually modeled (which is one of the reasons I like to play racers in cockpit) and well detailed.  Sound is also excellent, with cars having their own engine sounds (I’m no expert as I said, but they all sound distinct) and the radio gives plenty of soundtrack options.  The game also implements Groove Music if you have a subscription to it, allowing you to create your own playlist and pipe it into the game.  It’s quite fun to dive up to a festival location and hearing one of your favourite songs played as though it were live.  It’s a small feature but one that I liked.

 

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The Bucket List events give you a car and set you a specific challenge such as beating a speed target or reaching a destination in a set time. I found this speed challenge very difficult.

There are a couple of flaws here and there.  Occasionally the Groove Music connection breaks down, preventing you from playing your songs of choice.  More irritating is when you set up a championship (a series of races across a number of locations).  Just like with single races, you can set the championship up how you’d like.  This includes which races, number of laps, time of day and such.  You can also pick the type of car allowed, but it won’t let you see which cars of that class you have until after you’ve set the championship up, which is a bit of a pain if it turns out that the only cars of that class that you have aren’t terribly good.  There’s also the odd spot in the world in which your car can become stuck, and resetting it just puts you back where you were, stuck again.  It’s rare but I found a couple of places.  On the whole though, the experience is extremely polished.

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Obviously you end up racing a jet fighter.

Forza Horizon 3 is developed by Turn10 and published by Microsoft Game Studios.  I played the game on Xbox One and would recommend anyone who is looking for a fun, adaptable racing game.  The options will get it as arcade-like or simulation-like as you want, and it will even suggest adjustments to you if you’re doing too well or badly.  Obviously it kept telling me to make the game harder.  I’m an expert after all.

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Outlast 2 Demo -A nice family friendly game about hugs. Honest…

Outlast was one of those polarising horror games that lead to arguments about what actually qualifies as scary as opposed to shocking.  Some people claimed it was simply YouTube fodder, designed to get online celebrities with face-cams to scream a lot for our amusement, whilst others would claim it was a real survival horror experience in which you felt genuinely vulnerable throughout.  Personally, I quite enjoyed it.  For a good proportion of the game I felt unsettled by the atmosphere and threatened by the denizens of the world, hunting down my defenseless cameraman.  Towards the end the game started to lose some pace, with the same tricks being thrown at you and the ability to exploit somewhat stupid AI reducing the fear factor significantly.  On the whole though, I felt it was a fun budget horror experience.  And now we have the inevitable sequel!  Because it’s 2016 and success = sequel.  This is going to be a look at the events of the demo and a quick overview on my feelings on it.  Enjoy!

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We start of the demo with a little preamble to set the scene. It doesn’t really tie into what happens in the demo much though.

If this game follows on from the story of the original game, it hides it well in the demo.  You’re a guy with a night vision camera (in keeping with the previous game’s theme) searching for his wife through a seemingly abandoned settlement in the hills of the Arizona desert.  Obviously all is not well as you gradually slip through the shacks, finding bodies in various states of dismemberment.  After a short while you come across a figure in the shadows watching you. Being an Outlast survivor, I expected to be rushed at immediately, but the figure just steps back, deeper into the blackness, almost demanding you follow him.  Being a game, you have little choice and you press onward, your camera’s night vision mode allowing you to see in the pitch black.

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My Latin is rather rusty, but I think this translates roughly as Satan is the enemy of God.

Before long you find yourself before a well.  As we all know, a well in a horror situation is something you tend to avoid, but investigate it we must!  Cue a huge…tongue…thing.  Possibly a tentacle?  I’m not too sure.  Anyway, it flies out and drags you into a vent, which collapses leaving you in a modern looking Catholic school.  This seems extremely out of place, but I’m sure there will be more detail on this come the full release.  You pass through the school, seeing some bizarre moments of a screaming child running past, a demon grabbing you and flinging you down the corridor, and a corpse hanging from the ceiling being dragged upwards by a cloud full of hands.  Finally, you walk through a locker (yes, through) into a room where you are attacked by the man you saw at the beginning.  He flings you down the stairs and the game prompts you to run!  Back into the mechanics of the original game then.

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The chase through the corn field is somewhat intense. You can just about make out a person hunting for me on the left.

You’re chased through a corn field, being hunted by multiple men with torches.  The use of light here is very effective here, as it dances off the plants whilst you sneak around.  There’s no direction here, it’s simply a case of trying to find a way out without being caught.  This culminates with a chase around some shacks before sliding down a slope to be confronted by a woman wielding an enormous axe.  An axe which comes down solidly onto you.  Onto your crotch specifically.  You get rather a graphic view of the results, before the axe swings into you one more time, cutting the demo to black.

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You can see the hanging body down the corridor here. This whole section is very much at odds with the other environments.

Some thoughts on the demo.  It gave me a good idea of what to expect from the game beyond the mechanics (which are mostly the same of the previous entry in the series).  The environments look really good and are far more open than before, allowing for enemies to sneak up on you if you’re not paying attention.  The lack of direction when being looked for is a double edged sword.  At first it’s intense as you have no idea where to go whilst being pursued, but before long the effect wore off and I became more irritated that I had to scour the area to find the way I was meant to go.  The previous game being mostly made up of corridors made navigation somewhat easier.  The school section was most interesting.  The demons and mysterious voices heard throughout it made me think this section is in the character’s head, or some alternate reality.  I’m curious as to how this ties into the story.  On the whole, I’m curious about Outlast 2 as a result of this, I do hope that there are more mechanics to the game than are present in the demo.  Otherwise it could be a case of more of the same.  This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but I feel that it could become rather dull rather quickly if there isn’t more to it.

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School. God damn terrifying!

Outlast 2 is being developed and published by Red Barrels.  I played the demo on Xbox One and would recommend you give it a try if you enjoyed the original.  If you didn’t then this is very unlikely to sway you!

Rise of the Tomb Raider – Crafty Crofty!

I’ll openly admit that I’m normally the first to complain when a reboot of a classic game is announced.  There are just so many bad ones.  Bionic Commando, Sonic Boom, Turok and (in my opinion the most egregious of all) Syndicate are all examples of game series that have been given a shoddy reboot to grab money from an established franchise.  Thankfully, in recent years good reboots seem to be outweighing the bad ones, and 2013’s Tomb Raider was certainly a pleasant surprise.  I didn’t have much interest in it as I was never really a big fan of the Tomb Raider games, but it turned out to be a pretty enjoyable game.  An origin story for Lara Croft with a semi open world to explore, although the shooting felt a little floaty and there was the curse of last generation’s tacked on multiplayer.

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The ice and snow effects are look great.

It sold well enough in spite of what Square Enix might have said (apparently just shy of 4 million units is a failure) to earn a sequel.  And here we are with Rise of the Tomb Raider, which has been on Xbox One and PC for some time now, and will soon be coming to PS4.  We find Lara in pursuit of an artifact known as the Divine Source, said to conquer death, with the aim of restoring her father’s name.  Before long we find a shadowy religious organisation also searching for it because…reasons.  I felt that the villains’ motives were very unclear during the game.  They seemed to be no more complex than “to rule the world” which is about as generic as they come.  The key members of Lara’s opponents are not all that well fleshed out, although how she relates to them in cut scenes is well done at times.  Overall, the story is a little weak, but what there is of it is told well, in spite of something of a plot hole towards the end.  Collectable logs from different eras of history add depth to the areas you’ll be exploring and how the Divine Source has effected various groups over time.

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Your bow will likely be your most used weapon. Thankfully it’s very satisfying and reliable.

As has been the case with a lot of games I’ve played recently, this one looks great.  The ice and snow effects are gorgeous, and little details like footprints in deep snow and Lara wringing out her ponytail after swimming add to the look of the game.  Cobwebs in caves blow gently in a breeze and wildlife go about their business, looking up suspiciously when they hear you pass by.  There are some oddities in the environments though.  This game is far more linear than the previous installment, which is fine,  The environments seem to go from snowy, mountainous peaks to sun-drenched forest in a very short space of time.  Maybe this is something that happens in nature, I’m no expert, but I found the shift somewhat jarring.  There is something to be said for keeping you environments varied I suppose.

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You’ll build up your abilities throughout the game giving access to new skills.

Those environments would be meaningless without something to do in them, and Rise of the Tomb Raider has plenty of activities without overwhelming you (take note, Assassin’s Creed: Unity).  You’ll find the aforementioned logs, historical relics, animals to hunt and challenges to complete.  Best of all are the return of the challenge tombs, hidden deep inside caves.  These act as large environmental puzzles that reward you with new skills for Lara.  These are by far my favourite part of the game, forcing you to use the abilities you’ve gained in creative ways to navigate hidden temples and stranded ships.  This is where the game is at its most creative and it’s a shame that there aren’t a few more of them, or those that are there aren’t a little longer.

Rise of the Tomb Raider lighting
The lighting effects in caves are very nice, be it from fire or glowstick.

Combat is enjoyable (although it lacks much depth) and doesn’t overstay its welcome, although it does get a little tedious towards the last half hour.  Stealth is an option in most cases apart from the odd set piece, allowing you to hide in tall grass and snipe with your bow or stealth kill enemies.  Makeshift grenades and Molotov cocktails allow for some diversity through the game’s crafting system (which pretty much every game needs these days apparently).  Different arrow types can also be crafted to alter your strategy somewhat, as well as upgrades for your other weapons and equipment.  All these materials are found in the various environments, by searching, hunting animals and looting enemies.  Crafting elements in games are becoming the new modern military FPS: absolutely everywhere.  But they make sense in this game world, and aren’t overly relied upon.  The combat itself isn’t too challenging, you’re far more likely to die due to the occasionally wonky platforming.  Most of the time it works very well, but sometimes your just doesn’t go quite where you expect, or you can’t grab onto the ledge you thought you could.  The game has plenty of checkpoints though, so it won’t set you back far.

Rise of the Tomb Raider Fire
Set pieces tend to be very action heavy, often ending in a scripted escape sequence.

After the game ends, you can go back and replay sections for chasing high scores.  This wouldn’t really be worth mentioning in most cases, but there’s a good system of altering the game for these which adds a lot of fun.  You earn points throughout the game that you can use to buy card packs that can be applied to your next replay, adding big head mode, stronger weapons, reducing your health and so forth.  These will add score modifiers to your run, either more points for cards making it harder, or fewer if they make it easier.  It’s a fun system that makes replaying levels far more enjoyable than in other games.  Sadly it comes at the expense of the inclusion of micro-transactions for buying card packs.  You can earn them in game, but I do find this sort of micro-transaction irritating, especially when you have a full DLC package involved too.

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Gruesome scenes aplenty!

Rise of the Tomb Raider was developed by Crystal Dynamics and published by Square Enix.  I played the game on Xbox One and would recommend it as a solid action adventure game in spite of a couple of flaws.  There’s plenty to do here without feeling like an Ubisoft collectible party.  Another series reboot that’s working well?  Maybe that will be the theme of video games in the 2010s.

Oxenfree – Teenage beach party goes wrong…

First things first, I’m going to avoid story spoilers as far as possible due to this being such a narrative-driven game.  So fear not!  It does mean that this will be an odd write up as I’m going to tell you as little as possible about the story.  Anyway, on with the words!

The term “walking simulator” gets thrown around a lot at the moment, mostly in a derisive way to mock games that people feel lack actual gameplay.  But whether or not you feel they are truly games (lack of challenge often being cited), walking simulators can be very enjoyable narrative experiences.  More often than not they will have an atmospheric environment and engaging story.  You just have to look at the success of Gone Home and Firewatch to see that plenty of people, gamers or otherwise, enjoy this type of experience.  Oxenfree is almost a walking simulator, but with a few more gameplay elements.  It paints itself as a light adventure game with conversation elements that effect various outcomes.  In that regard it’s somewhat like the Telltale games (Walking Dead, Tales from the Borderlands, Life Is Strange etc.) but with a very different style.

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You and your friends arrive on an abandoned island for a high school beach party.

This is an almost 2D side scrolling adventure with a horror/mystery theme in which you move around areas (sometimes into the area’s background, hence it being almost 2D) with one or more partners, finding objects and solving simple puzzles.  Along the way, you’ll converse (or not if you feel like it!) with your companions with certain choices changing the outcome of the game.  It’s these elements that I feel move the game away from walking simulator and more into the realm of the Telltale style of game.  Unlike those games, though, this one is much shorter (about 4 hours) making it much easier to go back and experiment with different routes through the game.

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You end up with a group of 5 characters, all are interesting and well voiced.

The story begins with you, as Alex, and your high school friends arriving on an island for a beach party.  Surprisingly, your group are the only people there and so you decide to explore the island.  Before long you come across a cave with some unusual markings and discover that your radio can receive strange signals which set of a chain of events that brings into question what the real history of the island actually is.  You’re told that a WW2 submarine sunk just off the coast of the island, but over the course of the game you find out that not everything is as it seems.  The game is as about your relationships with your friends as it is the mysteries of the island.  Your choices will dictate how they react to you and how their lives will develop at the end of the story.

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Your interactions tend to revolve around 3 dialogue choices, although the option to say nothing can be just as important.

The game looks good, with an art style that suits the tone of the game.  The muted colours of the island makes the characters stand out and brings your attention to elements of the world that are important.  The voice acting is excellent and I found each character interesting and likeable in their own way.  They all have their own history and baggage that you can uncover if you spend enough time with each of them, so multiple play throughs to interact with each character is something I would encourage.  Whilst the writing is mostly very good, some of the dialogue comes across as quite odd considering some of the things the characters experience on the island (not spoiling too much here).  Alex in particular came across as a little too calm from time to time which broke the immersion for me a little.

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The island isn’t terribly big, meaning it’s fairly quick to find your way around.

The puzzles aren’t difficult, and most are solved simply by activating the correct object in the environment.  There are collectables to find though, with some (ever so) slightly more challenging puzzles that will require more exploration.  I found locating these to be quite enjoyable as they add a lot of history to the island and give you a better understanding of just what is going on.  You aren’t likely to be challenged in this game, but if you like a good story you should find yourself very much engaged.  And once you reach the end (which is either a total cop-out or utter genius, I can’t quite decide!)  and figure out just what was happening, you’ll almost certainly want to have another play through to find even more answers.

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Most of the puzzles will involve using your radio to find or interact with the world in a number of ways.

Oxenfree was developed and published by Night School Studio.  I played the game on Xbox One and would recommend you play it if you are looking for a good story.  If you enjoyed any of Telltale’s games, I would say you should look into this.  There’s a lot here that improves on them and it isn’t overly long, making another try at the game to find alternative routes and endings a very real possibility.  You really should give this a try.

DOOM – All the demons say I’m pretty fly (for a Doom guy)!

They are rage, brutal, without mercy.  But you.  You will be worse.  Rip and tear, until it is done.

The opening line of DOOM could not sum the game up any more perfectly.  You will face powerful, grotesque adversaries, but you will tear through them all at a breakneck pace.  Did you play Doom all those years ago?  If so, you’ll probably remember it being a fast paced shooter in which you would mow down hoards of demons with big guns, taking time out to find secret areas and completely ignoring what little story is there.  DOOM 2016 is that.  It’s as though id genuinely looked back at why people loved the original campaign and modernised it without losing its soul in the process.  The guys did good.

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It’s been a while…

The fast pace is the biggest thing they’ve brought back to DOOM.  Doom 3 was slow and creepy, which is fine, but that isn’t really what the series was always known for.  Within 15 seconds of starting the campaign, you’ll have crushed a demon’s head, broken out of your chains, grabbed a pistol and gunned down another pair of demons.  No exposition, no cutscene, no trying to ape the classic Half-Life slow world-building introduction, just straight into the action.  You’ll grab your classic armour (the Praetor Suit as they call it) and you’re away.  Before long you’ll have a shot gun, an assault rifle and the chainsaw.  More weapons are introduced at regular intervals to keep the variety up.  The weapon models are all interesting to look at with plenty of detail, and have a variety of different uses depending on if you can find secret weapon mods that can turn your shotgun into a grenade launcher or allow your assault rifle to fire rockets.  If I had to criticise something here, it’s that some of the gun models are a little too big, taking up more of the screen than I’d like which obscures your vision.  A minor gripe but certainly one I noticed.

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Massive guns can take up a lot of space on the screen.  I love the background detail here though.

Enemies are introduced in a similar way, lots of variety and plenty of call back to the classic games.  You’ll often find yourself locked in a chamber with a large mix of soldiers, imps, hell knights and other enemies.  Fighting them mostly involves moving quickly, taking enemies out as you rush by them.  The speed of the action is unbelievable, with you rushing past enemies, dodging attacks and firing at your targets as quickly as possible.  Clearing out a room is as much planning a route as it is being accurate, and deaths rarely feel cheap.  Occasionally you can get yourself caught up on the scenery when you expected to be able to climb up it, but this is very rare.  Overall, the minute to minute gameplay is tremendous fun, with you mowing down one enemy before “glory killing” (the game’s animated finishers) another, dashing along a hallway to use your chainsaw on the next and seeing them explode into…ammunition pick-ups(!) is quite satisfying.  They can become a little stale after a while as you see the same animation many times.  Luckily they’re all quick enough to not break the pacing.

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In about 2 seconds I will be rushed by these enemies.  Around 3 seconds later they will all be pulp!

There is a story and it isn’t half bad if you’re willing to dig into it, but it can be completely ignored if you wish.  Simply put, the UAC opened a portal to hell and decided to use the energy they find there as a form of renewable energy, which is about a sane as it sounds.  Hell are not happy and set about invading Mars.  As I said earlier, there is very little exposition, and scenes in which the story is fed to you take a total of about 10 minutes of the entire game’s playtime (about 10-12 hours depending on if you go searching for secrets).  This is rather nice as breaks from the action and exploration are kept to a minimum.  There is a lot of lore available if you’re willing to look for it though.  The codex entries from finding hidden logs fill in a lot about the universe and your history, as well as the demons and how they view you.

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Some of the exposition is provided by these ghostly images…which can be completely ignored!

The game also comes with the obligatory multiplayer mode.  It’s perfectly fine if I’m honest, with a fast pace and a variety of game modes.  Warpath is one I actually quite like, which is basically king of the hill but with a control point moving along a set path.  It’s really nothing special though, using the usual modern setup of loadouts and “hacks” (think limited time perks from Call of Duty).  It’s fine but nothing special.  Then there’s Snapmap, which is a level creation utility that allows you to piece together a map for your own levels or game modes.  Triggers can be included to allow events to happen at certain times.  It seems quite powerful with some interesting levels already created, although most of them seem to be remakes of classic maps from Doom and other games.  It’s nice to have these features but you’ll have by far the most fun in the campaign.

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Yes, this is a shot from the credits, but the game very much feels like this all the way through.

DOOM was developed by id Software and published by Bethesda.  I played the game on Xbox One and would recommend it to anyone looking for a fun, shooter, that’s more interested in being fun than being dark and gritty.  Take a look FPS developers.  This is what fun looks like!

Inside – Don’t play outside, play Inside!

Before I start, there will be no spoilers here.  I’ll mention very little about the plot and the screenshots are from very early in the game, so fear not!

I’ll cut to the chase with this one.  Inside is as near to perfect as you could hope a game to be.  This is the next game from Playdead, the team that made the wonderful Limbo, and this takes everything from that game and improves on it.  Most importantly of all (for me anyway) is just how atmospheric it is.  Every moment, every scene, drips with personality and little details that create a world worth exploring.  After finishing it, I went back through some of my favourite areas again just to see if there was anything I missed (there was).  You might be able to tell early on that this is going to be a very positive write up.

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You play a young boy, seemingly trying to break into a mysterious complex.

Inside is a puzzle platformer at heart, which is normally something that would put me off.  I’m not a fan of timing based leaps of faith, or awkward multi-level puzzles.  Maybe I’m not smart enough or too impatient to figure them out, but I’m just not a fan.  Here though, the puzzles are pitched just right for me.  They’re not overly complex, but there’s just enough depth to them to give you that satisfying ‘Aha!’ moment when you work out what to do.  They mostly involve moving platforms around, throwing objects, or using other characters in certain ways (I’ll say no more!).  They never get to the point where they block your progress for long, allowing you to move the story forward.  The game is very well paced in that regard.  The controls are sharp and will rarely cause you to slip up.  Any mistakes you make will likely be your own.

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The world the game builds is quite mysterious and deliberately explains very little.

Much like Limbo, there is a story here but it’s not 100% clear what it is.  Nothing is explained to you.  There is no dialog, no text, just visual cues that hint at what this world is all about.  Every scene has a disturbing, bleak atmosphere that demands to be explored in the hopes you can glean a little more information about just what is happening and why is this boy involved.  I’m not going to say much for fear of spoiling anything, but the characters and locations you come across suggest a very dark world, and the may well leave you with a lot of questions about the game, and yourself.

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Most of the game appears in a very muted colour scheme.

The world is mostly very dark as you travel through the various environments, but the occasional shaft of sunlight will highlight stark colours and give a brief moment of respite from the oppressive atmosphere.  The characters themselves have a simplistic look to them, but it’s the animations where the game excels.  Every movement is stunningly lifelike, little animations such as your character looking at something odd in the background, or crouching and placing his hands on a wall when someone is searching for him.  Deaths also receive a lot of detailed animation and are somewhat unpleasant when you consider your character is a child.  Whilst graphics are absolutely not everything in a game, but when they are done well, in such a unique way, they do nothing but improve the experience.

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A rare splash of colour will give you a moment of hope in this dire world.

Inside was developed and published by Playdead.  I played the game on XBox One and would recommend this to anyone.  This is an experience that you will remember for a long time and is absolutely worth your time and money.  A must buy to my mind!

Superhot: SUPER! HOT! SUPER! HOT!

Superhot is the most innovative shooter I’ve played in years.  I was told to say that.  It’s in the rules of the game.  Even if it wasn’t though, I’d probably still say something similar.  I won’t spoil too much of the story, but you start off receiving a message about playing a new game: superhot.exe.  As you play through the various stages, a seemingly complex plot develops, blurring the lines between the game and reality.  If you’ve played anything like Pony Island or The Stanley Parable, it’s that kind of subversive plot.

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Superhot has a really stark art style with few colours that highlight everything that is of interest.

As soon as you begin the first stage, the game presents you with its unique feature.  TIME MOVES WHEN YOU MOVE! it exclaims on the screen, and it really does mean it.  Everything is frozen until you begin moving.  Slower movements mean the world gradually starts moving whilst moving at full speed makes the world follow suit.  It gives you a lot more situational awareness than you may be used to.  Having played rather a lot of first person shooters, this forced me to  change my play style quickly.  It plays more like a puzzle game as you are faced with multiple enemies at once and need to plan how to disable each one without leaving yourself exposed.  The way time works allows you to dodge bullets as you ‘rush’ down an opponent and take their weapon before turning it on them.  Watching back the full speed replays makes you look like some sort of ninja in The Matrix.  It really is very satisfying.

I wouldn’t normally put a video in, but I just can’t help myself with this game.  It makes you look awesome in every replay.

Now, the story took me about 2 hours to finish.  In a game that costs £20, that seems really rather short and I wouldn’t blame anyone for saying it’s not good value for money.  The meat of the game comes after the main campaign though, as challenges and survival runs open up, as well as the obligatory collectables.  The challenges range from simple speed runs, to playing through using only melee weapons.  Some of these are really rather tough and take a while to master.  The collectables are very well hidden in the stages and are tough to find whilst avoiding enemy fire, even with your time bending powers.  If you’re only after a story then this is not good value, but if you’re interested in a challenge or you’re a completionist, there’s a hell of a lot of content here.  It’s great to dip into for a 10 minute blast.  Just don’t be surprised if it turns into a much longer session as ‘just-one-more-go’ kicks in.

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The game’s style allows it to get away with what would be really rather graphic violence if it aimed for realistic graphics.

Superhot was developed and published by Superhot Team.  I played the game on XBox One (in fact I’d suggest playing this with a controller thanks to the analogue sticks allowing you to control your movement more gently!) and I’d recommend this to pretty much anyone.  If you like first person shooters but find them a bit samey these days, this is a hell of a breath of fresh air.