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  • A white man with an unnerving star and extremely yellow pointy hair - the Adoring Fan in Starfield

    Last week while I was away from my desk, Pete Hines showed that the Starfield hype train is an unstoppable perpetual motion engine, and he certainly won't pull the emergency break for something as normie as a federal court. While his comments were part of the ongoing Actiblizz acquisition malarkey (the point seemingly being "it's so big it'd be too hard to optimise for PS5"), hearing him pitch Bethesda's upcoming grey-rocks-but-in-space-this-time RPG as "irresponsibly large" made me want to go full Reggie Perrin.

    Every time I bring my reviews of giant games to the altar of the industry, I weep tears of blood and beg that games be shorter. And every time the golden idol with the face of Phil Spencer opens its maw to spit a new £80 disc out and says: "Bigger than ever before. A million pointless collectibles. A feast of zero-calorie content. Lol. Lmao."

  • Looking at a desk lamp on a large wood desk in a plush study in Escape From Mystwood Mansion

    I really like escape rooms IRL, and have a tremendous amount of respect for the people who devise them. But seeing as how they last about an hour and cost approximately the same as it would for Wales to secede from the United Kingdom, I can only afford to pay an immersive experience what it deserves every so often (the rest of the time I'm honourbound by my fatherland to donate to causes supported by Michael Sheen). I'm therefore pleased that there seems to be an uptick in escape room video games. Plese do more of those, developers.

  • Handsome blonde muscled protagonist Rock addresses his team of pals in To Hell With The Ugly

    A decent name is one thing, but one like To Hell With The Ugly plain demands to be looked up. That's when you see the striking art style, and yeah okay, I'm already on on board.

    Based on a French novel by Boris Vian, this tells a strange and surprisingly dark story about a famously handsome young himbo who gets caught up in a sinister plot in 1950s Los Angeles and has to adventure, talk, fight, and - horrors - reason his way to the truth. It's an adventure game with quick-time event bits, and a 50s America setting, all of which could put me off it entirely, but I can't bring myself to say anything bad about it at all.

  • Shooting baddies in radiation suits in retro indie FPS Kvark

    The glut of "old school" shooters has largely passed me by, not least because I can easily play Doom today if I want to. But Kvark looks to Half-Life instead of the Doomquake clone era, and is all the better for it. You're a worker/prisoner in a sinister nuclear facility deep under 1980s Czechoslovakia where things, as you might guess, have gone terribly wrong.

    The satirical Soviet posters and propaganda reels are here, but used sparingly, and more convincingly than the usual "Russia, haha! Vodka! lol!" fare, and although all its parts are fairly familiar, Kvark feels distinct enough that I had a hard time actually putting it down.

  • A boss in Islets: a kind of noodle-armed cat in a red robe, firing a corona of red swords

    This weekend I spent some time trying out a bunch of games that I meant to try earlier, but didn't have the time to. I played through all of Superliminal, for example, and really enjoyed it until the very end when I got an inspirational lecture from an invisible scientist living in my ear - and I did not care for it. One game I played for literally half an hour and thought it was great, but I was not good enough to beat the first boss I came across. But I thought to myself, other people are better at Metroidvanias, and at least one of them might appreciate being nudged in the direction of a year old one I think is cute. Thus: Islets.

  • A photo of EGX staff preparing to open the doors for the day.

    Our sister site Eurogamer is celebrating 15 years of EGX (aka: the Eurogamer Expo) this month, and they're holding a charity pub quiz in its honour down in London this Thursday, June 8th. Yes, yes, we know that's the same day as Geoff's Annual Trainer Showcase (aka: Summer Game Fest), but hey, at least it's for a good cause, with all proceeds going to the lovely folks at GamesAid. Tickets are on sale now, and RPS supporters can also get a special code to nab themselves a free drink. Details below.

  • A schoolgirl walking through a crowd in the rain in Raid On Taihoku

    I'm unsure whether to call Raid On Taihoku a "historical game", since it's an adventure game with enough daftness to feel a bit unlike what that phrase brings to mind. But it's set very thoroughly in Taiwan towards the end of World War II, and though the focus is a young girl's relationship with her family and friends, that context is critical to why I've enjoyed it so much.

    Taxonomy aside, then, the important thing is that it's enjoyable. It hasn't hit the emotional highs of the kind of interactive fiction I favour, but for a story with such heavy themes, it provides a relaxing drip feed of mystery reveals and plot thickenings in between low-pressure minigames. It's a good time, without undermining its obvious respect for the people who had to live through this.

  • The two robot pals get ready to solve puzzles in Portal 2

    Today is another out of sync Bank Holiday for me. It's not one in Ireland, so I'm the only one rattling around in here at the moment. And it occurs to me that the vast, vast, vast majority of you will never have met me in real life. The evidence that I exist in physical space is comparatively minimal! How do you know I'm not an AI? An AI could probably replicate my writing style quite thoroughly, because there are at present many thousands of my - mine, my own - words on the internet, and they and everything else have and are being scraped by AI. This thought process is as a result of a few AI things intersecting with my workspace at once recently. Several of them are quite funny, and also not. If you think AI tools are actually good for writers then I have to assume you don't really think much about either.

  • A small fairy creature stands on a log in a forest in Smalland

    It is entirely irrational that I can see a hundred largely identical online shooters and not blink, but see a single game cover similar ground to something unique can make me go, "Oh, it's a Grounded knock-off".

    It's also extremely unfair on Smalland Colon Survive The Wilds, a lovely survival game about being a teeny tiny person in the wilderness, where bottlecaps serve as tabletops and beetles are a deadly threat. It is absolutely comparable to Obsidian's garden adventure, but a peer rather than a pretender. I even prefer it in some ways, but they have such a different vibe that there's plenty of room for both.

  • A silhouette in the doorway of a spaceship that has crashed into a front room in Kujlevka

    Kujlevka is a strange, clever game about an ageing village bureaucrat already troubled by political upheaval and dreams about death and trauma, suddenly given responsibility for communicating with and controlling access to what appears to be humanity's first contact with an alien intelligence.

    All those themes suggest a heavy, self-serious game. But Kujlevka's great strength is its levity. While not particularly funny, its consistent wry humour perfectly counterbalances all the talk of political chaos, existential futility, and petty greed. Its opening should have been a clue, really, considering you hang out with skeletons while drinking and commenting on the food on a train in outer space.

  • Link from The Legend of Zelda lifts up a bathtub with some wheels attached to it in Garry's Mod

    I’ve been playing a lot of The Legend Of Zelda: Tears Of The Kingdom this week. It’s good. Really good. I know you’ve all been waiting for your favourite PC gaming-focused website to offer their take on it so there you go. It’s properly, properly good. The best open-world adventure since Elden Ring, except arguably better because it doesn’t pull your trousers down and point out the colour of your underwear every time you dare to explore a forest or watch a sunset.

    As you’ve probably seen, the game’s biggest new draw is “Ultrahand”, which allows Link to pick up loose objects and glue them together. Three logs make a raft. A plank and four wheels make a car. Two stones and a log make a... Ahem. You get the idea. In addition to this are “Zonai Devices”, components that give life and movement to your doohickeys. A fan pushes your raft across the lake. A steering stick lets you manoeuvre your little car. It’s a marvellous construction system that leverages the pre-existing physics engine seen in the game’s predecessor, Breath Of The Wild, to startling results. Does this all sound familiar?

  • Marcus Fenix from Gears 5 with a beard and a cross look on his face

    Here I am, once again, The Gears Of War-liker. I'm back, specifically because vidbud Liam and I played some Gears Of War 5 co-op campaign the other night, a rare occasion where we hadn't played a game for work but for just like… fun? Anyway, through all the roadie-running and chainsaw-gun-toting, I kept thinking, "I haven't played a video game that feels so much like a video game in ages, I miss it".

  • A chaotic view of space from within a mech in Mech Punk

    Mech Punk is taking the piss, and I like it. Deliberately opaque games are one thing. Artsy games making a point (that seldom grab me, I shouldn't admit) are another. But Mech Punk is something else altogether, and an incredibly rare game that actually earns the "punk" in its title.

    Does that mean it's good? Well, umm. Yes, it's good at what I think it sets out to do. Being an irreverent mess is a valid artistic approach, but still means your game is exactly that. It's not a good game in the traditional sense, though. Do I recommend you buy it? If you can spare £20 to pat an artist on the back, maybe. What kind of artist? Put it this way: on release, its developer changed all their Steam page credits to "Alan Smithee". I don’t think they’re disowning it.

  • A collage of screenshots from Marvel's Midnight Suns and XCOM Enemy Unknown and a photograph of designer Jake Solomon

    Over the last week and a bit, we've been steadily releasing a bunch of stories from our big, hour-long chat with XCOM and Marvel's Midnight Suns director Jake Solomon that took place at this year's GDC. It was a wide-ranging interview, looking at what Solomon plans to do next now that he's left Firaxis, and how he feels about his 20+ year career there. You can read the condensed version of that interview here, but as a treat for RPS supporters, I thought you might like to read our chat in full. There's still a lot I couldn't quite squeeze into separate news stories here, and I think (and hope) you'll find it interesting to read as a whole. So here it is. All 8760-odd words of it. Enjoy.

  • A cutscene in Lunark where main character Leo finds a strange cube artifact

    Aeons ago, I wrote about the Leftfield collection that was supposed to happen at Rezzed 2020. Ploughing through several emotions without comment, in amongst the games that we never got to see as a result of Things Happening was an earlier version of Lunark, a clearly Flashback-influenced action puzzle platformer.

    I've kind of worried about it ever since, so I was glad to see it released recently, and gladder still that it's a lot of fun.

  • A pixel man aims a gun at a turret in Shardpunk: Verminfall

    Hargh blargh games are bad, roguelikes are worse, whinge moan complain. It is that time once again. You know whether my complaints will bother you, so consider this a massive recommendation if they dont: Shardtide Verminp... Punktide Verminsha... Shardpunk... goddamn it. Hang on.

    Shardpunk Verminfall is, as Graham reported, an excellent mash-up of several familiar games and concepts, yet doesn't feel like a knockoff of any, or lack its own identity. I would resent it a lot less if it wasn't also a roguelike. Even with its standard mono-save system and unlocking things and "repeating the whole thing from scratch ad infinitum" though, I can't pretend I don't enjoy it anyway.

  • A warrior stands in a grassy field surrounded by skeletons and blue fire in Vampire Survivors

    Forgive me, I'm someone who's recently got a Steam Deck and I'm going through the honeymoon phase. Except it's a phase which is unlikely to end? Anyway, it's proven to be an excellent way to rinse Vampire Survivors, a game I wouldn't - I have nothing against those who do - play upright on a monitor. Survival is best served on the couch, curled up like a shrimp with the blood draining from my arms as I hold the TV slab at some atrocious angle.

    Anyway, I've come to realise that Vampire Survivors might be a game about running away, but actually peaks when you come to a standstill. There's a special kind of joy to be had when you're able to stop and idle.

  • Fractured cuboid planets from puzzle game Rytmos

    Hello! Come on in. Please, take a seat. Welcome to the inaugural episode of our brand new (and currently untitled) supporter-first indie video show! Every month*, I'm going to be spending some time highlighting a cool indie game that deserves your attention. Think of this series as a supplement to Sin's Scout Report or our Indiescovery podcast. A brand new method for delivering piping hot recs from my desktop to yours.

    My aim is to use this series as a springboard to dive deep into specific elements of a game I find particularly fascinating, sharing my discoveries with you lot behind the paywall first (and don't worry, regular readers, I'll also be making each of these videos public for all to see after a month, which should roughly coincide with the the next one going live for supporters). In it, I'll be discussing some common themes between multiple games, digging into underappreciated gems from years gone by... The remit is broad and nebulous, to the point where it's clearly obvious why I haven't been able to come up with a name for it yet.

    (If you end up thinking of something, please do let me know in the comments. More than anything it'll stop me messaging Katharine a list of awful possibilites every other week, which I can only imagine is negatively effecting her feelings about me, the site and the endeavour of games journalism in general. They really have been that bad, folks. Proper rancid stuff).

  • Close up on a pitched battle on the hexagonal map tiles in Total Tank Generals

    I am once again spending a candidate for this year's Summer Strategy Game For When Brain Is Melt. Total Tank Generals is possibly the best introduction to wargames I've ever played, but to call it a light strategy game would feel like a disservice. If you're used to heavier fare this may still scratch the itch.

    It's not that it's particularly simple, but it feels so damn clean and effortless to play. You'll know what you're doing in minutes, but still find a decent challenge, with lots of options but minimal analysis paralysis. I'm honestly finding it hard to fault.

  • A Steam Deck running Neon White.

    I'm now the proud owner of a Steam Deck and I think it's fantastic. It's a genuine marvel how I'm able to lay on the couch and play Like A Dragon: Ishin, or stream Resident Evil 4 - with admittedly, a ropey success rate - to it from my PC in the other room. I've even been reunited with some old friends, too. Welcome back to the fold, Rogue Legacy 2.

    But my time spent with the Deck has me thinking that my gaming priorities have changed. I'm no longer excited by consoles that promise better graphics or blazing fast loading speeds. At least, not for big boxes designed for living rooms. Right now, I'm far more excited by the practicality of handhelds and how they'll evolve. The Deck might be the future, but it's also brought me back to my past.

  • Loretta, from her titular game, a blonde woman standing in front of some golden cornfields, staring at the camera

    I'd planned on starting with a line about how Loretta is an exception to how psychological horror games are about trudging around an abandoned mental hospital with the worst torch in the world until the girl from Ringu menaces you. It was already interesting and good enough pretty much right away to earn a recommendation, but after one of what will definitely be several playthroughs, leaving my praise that faint would do it a terrible injustice.

    Loretta is goddamn excellent by any standard. Where other games use the mentally unwell narrator to explain everything away with "turns out you're secretly crazy", it's instead just one layer of a complex horror mystery with splashes of drama and noir, whose surprises I'm straining not to spoil.

  • THe neon-lit streets of Sotenbori, with all its restaurants and cafes, from Yakuza Kiwami 2.

    After 15 years, I finally managed to go back to Japan! And now I'm back, I thought it would be nice to recount the trip. It's a somewhat selfish thing, admittedly. Mainly because I think jotting down my scattered thoughts will help me process the holiday and, hopefully as a by-product of my outpouring, you'll get a sense of what it's like out there if you're interested in going yourself one day.

  • An imagine of a woman with her hair up, and glowing eyes, in almost a wireframe style as if she's on a screen, from beat em up Pill Baby

    There are so many ways to cut this cake. I could call it a weird game, and bang on about those for a bit. I could call it a 2D beat 'em up with your classic heavy/light attacks (actually punch/kick, but whatever), which is important to mention. It's also tempting to namedrop the things it reminded me of, like Hotline Miami, Beraltors, and a tiny hint of The Cat Lady, but that could get you picturing just about anything, and is unfairly reductive to a game that has the right to stand on its own.

    Pill Baby is, obviously, all those things. It's far better and more coherent than any of those descriptions would make it sound.

  • Being attacked by a blocky goblin in Raidborn

    There's a kind of game that we all have a fondness for. It transcends genre, even if it doesn't particularly push the boat out. It's not the first game that comes to mind as a favourite or recommendation, but it's a plain good time. Raidborn is one of those.

    It doesn't try to take over your life, or be the Everything Game that invariably becomes the Nothing Game. It's just a neat little thing to have some harmless fun with. Sometimes that's what you want.

  • Ellie and Joel take a drive in the Last Of Us.

    Graham (RPS in peace) text me yesterday and, with little warning, launched into what were clearly pre-prepared paragraphs of complaints about games he'd tried playing in his free time at the weekend and not enjoyed. I shall draw a veil of discretion over the names of the actual games, but his chief complaint was that none of them had, actually, very robust design or tutorialising fit for purpose (i.e. teaching you how to play the game), especially for people who aren't able to give games their singular attention for hours at at time. I agree with him, although his attention is divided by, e.g., having a child in need of stimulation, and mine is divided by, e.g., being a child in need of stimulation.

    It's probably turning my brain into cottage cheese, but I often do things at the same time as playing a game, like listening to music or a podcast. I understand that podcast games are sort of a genre now, but I've started doing it with regular games. Is this a me problem? Sure. Does it mean I want games to bring back that thing where NPC quest givers will just explain the quest again to you if you ask? 100% also yes.

  • Steph approaches the microphone in her radio DJ booth, in a screenshot from Life Is Strange: True Colors - Wavelengths DLC.

    With the solemnity of Samwise Gamgee informing Mr Frodo that one more step will take him the furthest he's ever been from home, I recently realised that it'll soon be the longest we've gone without a new Life Is Strange game since the franchise debuted in 2015. I looked into it and sure enough, the current record-holder is the gap between the season one finale of Life Is Strange and the first episode of its prequel Before The Storm: 1 year, 10 months, and 12 days. That means that come mid-August of this year — specifically, the 14th, which marks the 683rd day since True Colors' Wavelengths DLC released — LIS fans will be leaving the Shire whether we like it or not.

    I suspect that Life Is Strange: Steph's Story — the first prose novel tie-in to the franchise, released on March 21st — was commissioned with fans like me in mind. Fans who work out useless trivia like the above because they need something to occupy them when there's no new game on the horizon and they've played all the existing ones to death. Fans who know every character's canonical middle name and birthday. Fans who complain that it feels like they never have time to read any more, but nevertheless finished the novel and wrote a silly supporter post about it within ten days of publication. Of course I really liked Life Is Strange: Steph's Story. But will you, as a person whose relationship with this franchise is statistically guaranteed to be more normal than mine?

  • Cleaning a giant robot with gun arms in PowerWash Simulator's Midgar Special Pack

    It has been said (by me) that a lot of games journalists are generalists in terms of what we play, especially if we're talking about people who are staffers at an outlet, or have ever worked in guides. Though we all have stuff we prefer, or series that we serve as the go-to expert on for in-house needs (I think vid bud Liam might actually walk around wearing an ASK ME ABOUT RESIDENT EVIL badge in his day-to-day life), we - unlike the blue-haired neo-Gods of streaming - often can't focus on one game all of the time. You have to know enough about enough to be able to write about enough.

    There are, however, a bunch of big important games that I haven't played. Sometimes it's because a bunch of other people have, so that gap in the site's knowledge is already plugged (and I do always make sure to be aware of their impact and basic facts). Other times, they might be games that I'm not really interested in playing, either because they're not my genre or they seem too overwrought. Or, in some cases, it's because everyone says they're really good and I have to try them, though I've been burned before on this method (you people said the same about Ready Player One). But you know what would make me take in info about these games, even if it's just by osmosis? If they all got PowerWash Sim DLCs.

  • A screenshot of the Castlevania platformer game Angel's Gear where a blue angel is holding aloft the body of the protagonist

    I can't remember if I've already banged on about what a terrible, unhelpful term "metroidvania" is, so let's skip past to say that Angel's Gear reminds me of the one Castlevania game I've ever played.

    It's partly the tone: a compelling blend of gothic and biomechanical horror, with a 90s game boy goriness that's cartoony enough to feel colourful rather than repulsive. "Camp" isn't the right word, but a hint of melodrama gives the story severity without self-seriousness. I mean, within the first minute of the game, your soldier goes from a terrified Normandy-style amphibious assault on a fortified metal church to seeing their war made irrelevant when the moon explodes. The whole thing is kind of metal, to be honest.

  • Swinging a Strand whip in a Destiny 2: Lightfall screenshot.

    Exciting times! Liam and I have wrapped Inventory Space episode two, in which we documented several weeks of us returning to Bungie’s live service behemoth Destiny 2. We found it to be an FPS delight, but one that’s wrapped in a taxing MMO.

    One thing I can’t stop thinking about are the game’s piss-coloured walls. They appear right at the beginning of the game’s latest expansion Lightfall and I genuinely believe they summarise Destiny perfectly.

  • an orange creature in a glass tank talking to the main character in 24 Killers, saying 'Take punches like pats on the back!'

    I rarely enjoy adventure games, and in fact resent them for pinning that term for a genre that almost never feels adventurous. And yet I don't quite want to say that 24 Killers is an exception, because confining it to any genre feels reductive, let alone one that will probably put you off if you're anything like me.

    It's a tiny bit like a Stardew Valley or Gleaner Heights, or any of those "do chores until you run out of energy" games, but mostly it's a "hanging out and being slightly weird" game.