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  • Marcus Phoenix from Gears 5

    As much as I enjoy your Call Of Dutys and Valorants, I just don’t think any multiplayer shooter will eclipse Gears Of War. For me, at least, it comes down to movement. The way the beefy boys slide into cover and bounce off it with ease. The side-steps and strafes in those tight-knit shotgun battles.

    Recently, I wondered if there was more to my connection with Gears and its lovely movement. And then it struck me: badminton. Yes, the racquet sport I’ve played for 19 years and consider an immensely important aspect of my life. Turns out they have quite a lot in common, actually.

  • Key art from the mobile game Merge Mansion, showing a young woman holding a shovel and looking confused, next to a smiling older woman with grey hair

    Back in August, which is obviously an unfathomable length of time ago, the adverts for a mobile game called Merge Mansion went semi-viral on Twitter. The post was not unwarranted. The twists, the turns, the drama: it all makes Merge Mansion seem like it must be bananas.

    In that original advert, a bride gets out of a taxi to find her house (and presumably husband) is on fire. Her grandmother takes care of her and unlocks the gate to a huge mansion, which the woman begins rennovating. Then out of nowhere the cops come and arrest grandma, and she presses her hand to the inside of the police car window where, Lost-style, she's written a message on the palm of her hand reading "He is alive". I was reminded of it this weekend because I saw a similar ad where a policeman comes to the house to arrest grandma and she escapes on a motorbike, pulling a sick wheelie.

  • Artwork for The Vale: Shadow Of The Crown, showing a female warrior shrouded in darkness against a red, mountainous landscape

    Supporters only: Why aren't there more audio-only adventures like The Vale?

    Falling Squirrel's debut game sets a new benchmark for accessibility

    As awards season approaches and I start to compile a list of all the great games I missed this year, there's one game I really regret not covering in more detail at RPS around the time it came out. That game is The Vale: Shadow Of The Crown, an audio-only RPG about a blind princess fighting to save her kingdom. You may have seen it nominated in the Innovation in Accessibility category of The Game Awards this year, and frankly if it doesn't win then a great disservice will have been done. A stark contrast to the other, all very AAA nominees in its category, The Vale doesn't rely on flashy visuals to tell its story. In fact, it barely has any graphics at all. Instead, it conjures its world - and tense fighting sequences - from sound alone, creating an experience like nothing else I've ever played.

  • A character in The Sin Collector falls on his knees, his sword lying on the ground, and looks at his hands in horror as he begins to disintegrate into purple whisps

    The Apocalypse came, and it was a shambles. The angels, you see, the divine powers, they did not anticipate that the world had changed, and instead of a hundred million people still impressed by hot food, they had to deal with 8 billion who had long since invented the AK47, and when the holy fires came, humanity tooled up.

    This is how the Sin Collector Colon Repentless starts. I am enjoying it a great deal.

  • A tour guide speaks to three recruits in Final Fantasy XIV.

    Recently, I’ve moved out of the city and into a little village in the middle of nowhere. Look outside the window and I see trees, maybe a little house nestled atop a hill. I walk past sheep and hope they don’t shuffle away from me this time, as it could mean we’re finally mates. At night it gets really dark, darker than you think is possible. An owl screeches and it scares the bejeezus out of me.

    Yeah, it’s nice out here. But getting into the village by car is a challenge. The roads are wobbly and narrow, with little patience for noisy machines. This means I’ve had to stop and let other cars pass a lot. At first it was irritating, but now I’ve come to enjoy it. Getting a wave or a flash of the lights warms the heart and can turn a bad day into a good one. It strikes me that multiplayer games lack this fleeting comradery, which is a shame.

  • A headshot of young Hercule Poirot as seen in Agatha Christie - Hercule Poirot: The First Cases, but over the background used for headshots of cast members on ITV reality show Love Island

    Alright, so I played Sherlock Holmes Chapter One, and just yesterday I finished Agatha Christie - Hercule Poirot: The First Cases, and now I'm like, "When is someone going to put these hot, young investigators into a dating sim?" because that would be extremely funny. You know, Dream Daddy but Dream Detective or whatever.

    Thing is, we've got Sexy Young Holmes and Sexy Young Poirot, sure, but two dudes don't make a dating sim, right? Why, ITV needs somewhere in the region of 35 fragile young adults to head-wreck every summer in Love Island. So who else would I need hot young versions of for my imaginary dating sim game?

  • Forza Horizon 5's new cover art, featuring a Corvette sports car and a Ford Bronco against a summery background of beach and jungle.

    Supercars are boring. That one on Forza Horizon 5’s front cover? Don’t care how fast it goes, mate. Oh, goes from 1 to 60 in 2.7 seconds does it? Yeah, well, that's how long it takes to prepare this knuckle sandwich. No, but seriously, they’re all the same to me: just wedges of carbon fibre with wheels. I’m sure the engineering is marvelous and the innovation groundbreaking. But let’s be honest, in videogames they’re virtually all the same.

    My Forza Horizon 5 fantasy doesn’t involve Lamborghinis or Ferraris. In fact, it’s the complete opposite of opulence. Mexico’s roads are for me and my mundane companions. The Volvo Estate, the Ford Focus, the Honda Civic. The everyday vehicles that make up for their lack of speed with heaps of character. I just wish there were more to choose from.

  • A plain wooden boat sailing the high seas in Sailwind

    Supporters only: Sailwind is just a few updates away from excellence

    Hurl the bay! Waist the mainjilt! I know what I’m doing stop asking!

    Despite my interest in pirates, piracy is probably the least interesting thing about Sea Of Thieves. It's not just its excellent ocean that I want to enjoy without pointless random murder. It's the sailing. The thrill of moving around and operating this vehicle, hearing it creak as you turn a wheel, and whoosh as you catch the wind.

    Sailwind is all about that. You sail a boat. Nobody will attack you. There are no monsters to fight, or guilds to appease. It's just you, the sea, and the skills that will take your boat across it well enough that you don't starve on the way.

  • A cinematic screenshot from Sherlock Holmes Chapter One showing Sherlock standing next to his friend Jon, Jon with a supportive hand on Sherry's shoulder

    I didn't really have the luxury of devoting a cool 500 words to a single character in my Sherlock Holmes Chapter One review, firstly because I'm a believer in word economy, but secondly because what I wanted to talk about is a bit of a spoiler. It's integral to the plot of the game and it's revealed very quickly once you start playing, but it's also not mentioned in any of the promo blurbs or marketing, so I'm guessing it's meant to be a fun little "Oh!" moment. On the other hand, I do really want to talk about how cool Sherlock's best mate Jon is...

    So if you want to go into Frogwares' new detect 'em up cold, then save this and come back to it after you've played about, ooh, 45 minutes? I think that's long enough to get clear of spoiler territory.

  • A warrior on a horse leaps high towards a cliff in an Elden Ring screenshot.

    Elden Ring is on my mind. When I go to bed and I close my eyes, I see giant crabs clack about. When I see a horse in a field, I think of Torrent the spectral steed. I consider laughing at the end of all my sentences. So yeah, to say my time with the closed network test was infectious is an understatement. But there’s just one detail rattling around my brain I simply can’t shake.

    And it’s to do with where I stood in the game’s world. How strong was I? At what point do I take on the big dragon? Should I be here, or over there now? Souls games haven’t traditionally been good at letting you know these things, but Elden Ring felt more confusing. Time to investigate.

  • Image for Death's Door is my kind of Soulslike, and I just can't get enough of it

    Listen, folks, I'm going to hold up my hands and tell you something shocking. I don't get Dark Souls. I've tried to play FromSoftware's much lauded masterpieces several times over the years, but I'm simply not good enough at them to find them enjoyable. No matter how much you try and tell me about the sweet satisfaction you feel after finally beating a boss on the 57th attempt, I've come to realise I simply don't have the time or the patience to see it through. I'm not sure I ever will, either.

    It's the same reason I tend to veer away from a lot of other Soulslike games as well. I never really got on with Dead Cells, for instance, and don't even get me started on Sekiro. But cor, I do also love it when a game proves me wrong. Hollow Knight was the first Soulslike to rekindle my rather begrudging relationship with these games, and now I've fallen hook, line and sinker for Death's Door, the crow reaper sword 'em up from Titan Souls creators Acid Nerve.

  • A sea of repeating RPS logos.

    Supporters only: Letter From The Editor #04: notes from our survey

    We heard you'd like some feedback on your feedback

    Hello folks. I know it seems like I only wrote one of these Letters From The Editor five minutes ago, but that five minutes ago was also about three weeks later than it should have been last month, hence the slight double whammy of RPS Treehouse business you’re getting now. But it’s a good thing, really, as my accidental tardiness last month means I can now address some of the issues you raised in our recent RPS reader survey much faster. We’re still digging through a lot of the results right now, but I thought I’d take this opportunity to talk about some of the more general concerns and proposals you mentioned as part of your overall feedback, and how we’re going to be incorporating some of them into our editorial plans going forward.

  • A child in a woodland scene in Here Comes Niko

    It's the little hint of darkness that does it. For the tiniest fraction of its playtime, Here Comes Niko! is about a horrible thing. The vast bulk of it, though, is basically Good Vibes: The Game. It's warm, welcoming, and very silly, and is never intruded upon unexpectedly with the rest. But that tiny part is what makes the rest so important.

  • A table full of animal-themed cards in Inscryption

    Comedian Dara Ó Briain has an old bit where he talks about video games, and the difficulty barrier that games have compared to other kinds of media. "You cannot be bad at watching a movie. You cannot be bad at listening to an album. But you can be at playing a video game. And the video game will punish you, and deny you access to the rest of the video game."

    Don't worry; I'm not about to take out a cane and start hammering away at the skeletal, equine remains of the "difficulty in games" debate. But I always remember that joke. I like him miming a book quizzing you on what the major themes of the text are so far, and then woomp-ing closed if you can't answer, and I thought of it again recently while playing Inscryption.

  • A table with a deck of cards laid out on it in Inscryption

    Inscryption is good, very good. I mean, we've slapped a Bestest Best badge on it, like one of its in-game sigils. What effect does it have? Play the game and you'll quickly realise it does things games aren't supposed to do. Most notably, for me at least, Inscryption makes me feel like I'm actually playing a proper card game; that feeling of being present at a table, slapping cards down on its hard surface. I hadn't realised how crucial this was to my enjoyment of CCGs, until now.

  • A warrior rushes at you with a sword in The End Of Dyeus

    I almost don't want to tell you what The End Of Dyeus is. Surprise and discovery are among the things I enjoy most in games, and they're too often undermined in the modern age. Damned kids, with your wikis and your hashed tags. It's a first person fighting and exploration game that drops you in a pastoral fantasy world with no instruction beyond "find Dyeus" and some straightforward control explainers. The only thing I dislike is that I have no idea how to pronounce it, dramatically limiting my pun options.

  • hollow-knight.jpg

    Recently, I've heard tales of Far Cry 6 players receiving snarky emails from Ubisoft about how much time they've spent in-game. They're supposed to read as if Anton Castillo, the game's evil dictator, is mocking you for not investing enough of it toppling his regime.

    And even if you've spent a lot of time clearing Castillo's map markers, he'll still send you emails anyway. They feature stats like time played, checkpoints cleared, that sort of thing. Many people don't seem to like this, which I totally understand. But a part of me wishes these rude marketing emails were more of a thing. Specifically, I'd like it if the bugs from Hollow Knight spun some my way.

  • Image for Please, stop with all the godawful emails about NFT gaming

    It started a few months ago: we got an email about shoes designed using 'blockchain technology', and had a good laugh about it as a concept. But in retrospect, this email was merely the ripple on a glass of water that go ahead of a T-Rex's mighty tread. Except in this analogy the T-Rex is one of 10,001 unique dinosaurs programatically generated from different traits. And it's wearing wacky sunglasses and smoking a pipe.

  • Artwork of an orc and a human staring at each other in Warcraft II: Tides Of Darkness

    When I think back to the games of my childhood, nothing puts a warm, fuzzy smile on my face like Warcraft 2. As one of the few PC games I had growing up, I ended up playing the campaign over and over again - or at least starting it over and over again - for what felt like actual years. I loved building up my fort and endlessly poking the peasants and peons until they shouted back at me in annoyance, and man alive, there is nothing sweeter than ordering a tooled-up army across the map and absolutely wrecking the enemy in one fell swoop of doom and destruction.

    It is something I wish I could play again now with all my heart. I know there's version of it on GOG, but I'd also just quite like, you know, a newer, shinier version with a more up to date UI and all that jazz, and one whose map didn't whizz over to the other side of the screen with a single tap of the arrow key. I'd also like a version that isn't, somehow, made by Activision Blizzard because... *gestures to all their ongoing harassment lawsuits*. Fortunately, I've happened upon a couple of games in recent weeks that have really scratched that old Warcraft 2 itch of mine. I've already written about one of them - Diplomacy Is Not An Option - and the other is Age Of Darkness: Final Stand, a game with the most boring name imaginable, but is secretly very good.

  • A sea of repeating RPS logos.

    Supporters only: Letter From The Editor #03: EGX Rezzed is dead, long live EGX Rezzed

    We talk Rezzed's move to Birmingham and new site features

    Hello folks. Sorry to be writing this letter so late into October. This time two weeks ago I was walking the halls of London's ExCel on my way to host the first RPS Presents panel at EGX 2021, and all the planning and organising I had to do for it rather cut back on my available writing time. I then took some time off to recuperate a bit, and here we are, three weeks into October and I'm only just getting round to doing my monthly editor's letter. I do apologise. But! We are here now and there's plenty to talk about. A lot of it is EGX-related, but you'll hopefully have noticed some new site features being introduced these last few weeks as well, which I'll explain below.

  • Fighting enemies in Back 4 Blood

    I don't know what I was expecting to take away from co-op FPS Back 4 Blood. A greater sense of comradery between myself and my friends? An appreciation of the weighty guns and how magazines snap into place with each reload? The sheer amount of blood that splashes on your person with each wave of zombies you cut down? Yes, all of these things.

    But none more so than what the zombies wear. They favour comfortable clothing, but mainly the gilet. They love gilets. And they now have me questioning my fashion choices. Should I also join them as a wearer of gilets?

  • Image for Succubus has censorship on by default, and it's unintentionally the most hilarious thing I've ever seen

    Sometimes a game is so clearly desperate for attention that you are loathe to give it any. Like that one guy whose entire brand is getting in loud quote-tweet arguments on Twitter every eight to ten weeks, you know both exactly what it wants, and that you shouldn't go there. For months now I have been getting regular emails from the Succubus devs, all of which contain 112% of my daily recommended nipple allowance, and I know - I know - I shouldn't be writing about it. It is an action-adventure-hell-titty game that is, on every level, very bad. But I am breaking my silence now because the censored version of it is, quite possibly, the funniest thing I have encountered in my recent memory, and accidentally better than anything the devs could have made on purpose. You win, Madmind Studio. You win.

  • A man flies through the air toward a girl in a bubble in Mon Amour

    It's been a banner week for Japanese indie game releases. First we had the delightful puzzle platformer ElecHead, now we have the latest from Onion Games, Mon Amour. It's a one-button score attack game in the same vein as Flappy Bird, only instead of piloting a dumpy chicken through a bunch of green pipes, here you're guiding a spinning, mustachioed man toward dozens of smoochable women. But before you arch that eyebrow at its somewhat questionable premise, yes, this is another entry from Onion Games where kissing saves the day, following in the esteemed footsteps of Chulip and Dandy Dungeon - and yes, it is every bit as mad and baffling (and exquisitely designed) as you'd expect.

  • Image for Song Of Farca is great if you don't take it personally

    Often a game can feel frustrating because you can't make decisions that you want to. I had this initially with Song Of Farca. It almost kept me from playing it further, until I came back at it with a different attitude instead, thanks to a few conversations I've had lately about player choice versus narrative.

    You play as Izy Song, a hacking-based private investigator in a fictional, dystopian island in the near future. And she's kind of a fool.

  • A blue rally car skids round a dusty road in WRC 10.

    Is it called rally driving or rally racing? Oh, it's neither of these options: it's called rallying. As you can see, I'm no expert on the act of flinging cars around dirt tracks. The only experience I've got is watching other people do so rather beautifully. In fact, that's what inspired me to give rally simulator WRC 10 a whirl and finally learn how to drive, drive.

    But what I've really learned is terrible, actually. I've learned to totally ignore the bloke who sits next to you and dictates corners. I've learned not to pay attention at all. I'm in my own head, thinking back to that Greek yoghurt I just had. And I'm driving superbly. If I concentrate for even just a second my drive goes to shambles. So long as I find zen, I'm in control.

  • Image for Supporter podcast - The Nate Files episode 4: A General History of the Pyrates

    Y'arrrrr maties, tis time for another episode of The Nate Files, the bonus supporter podcast for you rum coves what toss us a few dubloons in exchange for some extras (and not being forced to walk the plank). Yes, in the Nate Files we see fit to put Nate "The Derailer" Crowley in charge, and this week, as you may have guessed from that intro, it is pirate-themed. Specifically, it is about A General History Of The Pyrates by Captain Charles Johnson.

  • A red cloaked character holds up some papers in Tangle Tower

    Supporters only: If you need more Phoenix Wright in your life, play Tangle Tower

    Its console release this week has got me thinking about this excellent murder mystery game again

    I refuse to believe it's been two years since the launch of Tangle Tower. A year, at most, perhaps, but two? Simply impossible. But its release on PS4 and Xbox One this week has got me thinking about this excellent murder mystery game again, and man, if you've been hankering for more great detective work after the likes of The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles (or indeed the Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney Trilogy) lately, then you absolutely owe it to yourself to play Tangle Tower. After all, when the prime suspect is *checks notes* a painted portrait holding a blood-tipped knife, who could possibly resist such a juicy little murder hook?

  • Image for Don't let Plunder slip over the horizon

    Look, it's not because it's about pirates. I mean, that's obviously what caught my eye, but it takes more than that, and most pirate games aren't about doing piracy at all anyway.

    Plunder isn't either, if I'm honest. It's a monster-slaying action RPG with age of sail trappings, but it's carried off with charm and such a clean design that even I can't bring my usual grudge to bear on it. I'm having far too much fun.

  • Image for I have a lot of respect for the Storyteller dev for finishing something after a decade

    Storyteller has been in development for an age - over a decade, at the longest estimate. That's a very long time. That's about a third of my entire life. Invaders Must Die came out the same year developer Daniel Benmergui first started work on his fairytale puzzle game. To be fair, Invaders Must Die is a pretty bangin' album, so logic would therefore dictate that Storyteller is going to be a pretty bangin' game, too. Alice0 is certainly enamoured with the current demo you can play as part of the Steam Next Fest this week, and I'd strongly recommend you give it a go as well while you can.

  • A close-up of a plate of muffins in Market Of Light

    When Epic unveiled their first Unreal Engine 5 tech demo last year, its ultra-realistic geometry systems and dynamic lighting effects looked impressive and all, but the resulting Tomb Raider-esque sequence left me feeling a little cold. To my eyes, Epic's tech demo didn't really look that much different to what games look like now.

    After playing a new UE5 tech demo from Japanese studio Historia, however, I am fully converted to the merits of Epic's new game engine. At 20GB-odd, The Market Of Light is a hefty download for its 15-20 run-time, but this freeform exploration game is absolutely worth a look if your PC meets its surprisingly reasonable tech requirements - especially if you're a fan of games that feature cooking. Seriously, Epic's Tomb Raider lady can get stuffed. For me, Unreal Engine 5 is all about delicious-looking next-gen food.