Batman. The Bat. The Dark Knight. Bruce Wayne. Reinvented by many a filmmaker, comic writer and games company over the years, but somehow his story still manages to hold interest for both creators and fans alike. As a hero with a heavy reliance on technology he fits easily into the role of a game protagonist, his expansive skillset and collection of gadgets making taking on the role of this caped crusader a thrilling and varied experience. The Arkham series allowed players to step into the shoes of Batman the action hero, but it (like many adaptations of Batman) didn’t have a whole lot to say about Bruce Wayne. We know what kind of choices Batman would make in his fight for justice, but what about Bruce Wayne? What would Bruce do? Masters of choice-driven games Telltale have taken on the challenge of answering these questions in their latest title Batman: The Telltale Series. But can they do it? Or have they bitten off more than they can chew?
I’d imagine that deciding on a name for a video game would be an arduous task; the single most important image element of a product that has taken years of devotion; the first impression; the ultimate reduction of the entire experience into a single phrase. I don’t know how developer Coffee Powered Machine were inspired, but their upcoming title Okhlos has nailed the game-naming game. Okhlos is a Greek word. It’s English translation is “mob”. That one word is introduction enough for the self-described “angry Greek mob simulator” Okhlos, in all of its ridiculousness, chaos and charm.
In a world of greyscale, a child stands alone. Their silent surroundings hint at the terrors that lurk both in the shadows and right in front of their eyes, but despite their fear, they are unshaken. A hint of red in their otherwise unremarkable outfit breaks through the black and white and shows the viewer that their story is one of importance. No, I’m not talking about Schindler’s List. No, I’m not describing Limbo, another game that would easily fit those first two sentences of the description. Instead, this is the beginning of Limbo developer Playdead’s second black and white dystopian platformer–but don’t be fooled into thinking it’s just a repeat of their last success story. Inside has its own story to tell, and boy is it one heck of a story.
Ahh, yes; hyper-difficult platformers. The 2D platforming genre has always brimmed with games that require pixel perfect jumps and unwavering, split-second judgement to survive increasingly ridiculous obstacle courses. RunGunJumpGun is a stripped-down take on the punishing performer genre that sees its release on 31st August, and I’ve had the chance to play through roughly the first half of the game this week.
The Technomancer is a third-person RPG set in a dystopian cyberpunk future on Mars, fuelled by all the tropes you’d expect from both the genre and setting. (Ed. It’s almost as predictable as a writer starting their review with the title of the game.) Emulating heavy-hitter genre-favourites, particularly Mass Effect, The Technomancer bites off a quite a lot more than it can chew. The hard work invested struggles to shine through the dull, boggy surface of this disappointing over-reacher. Hidden in this game are interesting stories and promises of a fun, epic RPG brawler, but the foundations are very weak, and there is nothing within this amateurish title to compensate for its myriad of slip-ups.
Given Sherlock Holmes is often described as one of the world’s greatest detectives, making a player really feel like they’ve taken on the role of such a genius is no easy feat. While one can’t be transformed into an eagle-eyed observer or a master of logical reasoning by simply donning a deerstalker and overusing the word ‘elementary’, Sherlock’s unique skills do lend themselves to the potential for some interesting game mechanics. Sadly, despite building on seven other attempts to create the perfect Sherlock Holmes adventure game, The Devil’s Daughter still doesn’t quite find that sweet spot. It is, however, filled with the endless frustration that I imagine actually being around Sherlock Holmes in person would bring. So, at least there’s that realistic touch.
It’s a warm subtropical afternoon. The sun is beating down on you through a cloudless sky. The ocean gently caresses your scalp as you open your eyes; your wet clothes clinging to your body. You push your hands into the wet sand as you wearily get to your feet.
You are on a beach.
How did you get here?
This is how you begin Lost Sea.
Lost Sea cleverly borrows contextual flavour from contemporary pop-mythology by setting itself on a series of archipelagos within the Bermuda Triangle – a real world area of the ocean where ships and aircraft are said to have disappeared under mysterious circumstances, often attributed to the paranormal. Soon you meet with a scientist conducting research in the area who will inform you that you were brought to the island through a dimensional rift and that in order to escape you will need to gather magical tablets that can be found on the islands in the area.