Papo & Yo (2012)

There’s a lot of chatter online about how games merely reinforce stereotypes and play it safe with narrative. This game – albeit a very short one – takes bold steps with narrative but is let down by the actual game experience. 

The story – an exploration of how a child hides from an abusive parent and how they must learn to let go to proceed – is a strong one. It’s also rooted in the childhood experiences of game designer Vander Cabellero. It’s a serious topic, and one not really covered in the gaming world, except when it’s providing an excuse for arse-kickery. (more…)

The Walking Dead: Season Two (2013-2014)

What's that noise?

I’ll attempt to avoid spoilers if I can, but if you’ve not played the final episode of the game yet, maybe you should come back later. 

I’ve just finished playing episode five of Telltale’s second season of The Walking Dead. And I’m a little disappointed with it.

Let me back up a bit. I’m disappointed with the ending. I thought that throughout the rest of the episode – and the moments of tension which cropped up in the search for shelter and the settling of scores, up until the end – was a lot more on the money than the rest of the series had been. There were a collection of “shit, no!” moments, and the dialogue (particularly around a campfire) was exceptionally well-judged in this episode. There was some levity, which is a nice surprise in a game whose stock-in-trade is the shit’s-fucked end of the spectrum.  (more…)

The Last of Us (2013)

I’ve just finished a 20-odd hour playthrough of PlayStation-exclusive The Last of Us, the survival horror game. I suppose I’m a little slow on the uptake – I’m surprised that it’s over a year since it was launched – but it’s a pretty great game. Though I must admit I’d expect nothing less from Naughty Dog, a development team whose pawprints are over a load of great games (The Uncharted series, the stupidly great Jak & Daxter games) and who have a good eye for the cinematic.

First, the game looks beautiful. Odd to say about something set in a gone-to-shit world where forehead fungi are turning people into zombies – er, sorry, the infected – but there it is. (more…)

Croft and Creed

I’ve just finished playing last year’s reboot of the Tomb Raider franchise, called – funnily enough – Tomb Raider.

And it was good. I mean, Uncharted 2 levels of good, if widescreen, epic-setpiece and press-x-not-to-die QTEs are your bag. I mean, check it out:

It’s a gorgeous game. I must qualify: it’s largely muddy browns and greys, all snow and storm – but it is certainly the best-looking game I’ve played on the PS3 thus far.  (more…)

Deadly Premonition: The Director’s Cut (2013)

I’ve just completed the PS3 version of Deadly Premonition. It’s as uniquely addictive as everybody says.

It’s a game I’ve followed ever since this trailer was released. Originally, it was called Rainy Woods, was due for release for PS2/Xbox and was swiftly thrown into the doldrums because of the obvious rips from Twin Peaks. I mean, watch the trailer: midgets, a red room, a sheriff who looks like Michael Ontkean with a dye-job… the thing was hardly subtle. I suppose that’s why the game was almost cancelled four times.

Maybe we need a Chipmunk-cheeked Woman here instead? What do you think, guys?

Nope, no David Lynch stuff going on here.

The game finally dragged itself onto the X360 with its current title, and later to the PS3. The set-up is basic: you’re an FBI agent (Mr Francis York Morgan, but call him York, everyone does) who visits a town called Greenvale (presumably in the Pacific Northwest) in order to solve a murder. It’s the sort of game people love or loathe – but as someone who has a big thing for Twin Peaks, I’m in the former camp. It’s amazing, sort of like technological Twin Peaks fanfic, written by a Japanese teenager. (more…)