Ah, finally, an actually good destruction physics game.
Warhammer 40,000: Chaos Gate – Daemonhunters (good lord that’s an unwieldy name) is a game I’m convinced I brought into existence by force of will alone. It was announced as part of a big Warhammer videogames event around this time last year, and my friends were having fun guessing what each game trailer was supposed to be before the title card flashed up. But me? I was just guessing “Chaos Gate 2!” on every single one, mostly because the idea was so absurd — who would make a semi-sequel to a shonky 40k XCOM clone from 24 years ago that barely anyone played at the time? — but also secretly because Chaos Gate is one of the two games from the late 90s glut of 40k titles that I do actually want a reboot/sequel to1. And this meant I damn near fell off my chair when the words “CHAOS GATE” appeared at the end of the Daemonhunters teaser, like the universe had finally got tired of my constant complaining and spontaneously reshaped itself into a place where Chaos Gate 2 could exist in a futile attempt to get me to shut up, and in fact it left me questioning the nature of my reality for several days afterwards — after all, if Chaos Gate 2 was actually happening then nothing is impossible.
Citizen Sleeper is an interactive fiction game where you’re essentially playing one of the replicants from Blade Runner. You start the game having fled from your corporate masters to Erlin’s Eye, a space station cobbled together from the wreckage of an economic collapse a decade prior, and you need to stave off the encroaching breakdown of your cybernetic body while eking out a living on the fringes of this ultra-capitalist hellscape by…
If Chinatown Detective Agency were a film, it would start with a title card that said “SINGAPORE… in the not-too-distant future” because it suffers from a chronic lack of imagination and has to fall back on cliché to make up for it. It’s an adventure game that thrusts you into the shoes of Amira Dharma, formerly of the Singapore Police Force and now striking out on her own as a private detective, and I suppose you could say that Chinatown Detective Agency’s addiction to cliché is at least a little fitting since this game is supposed to be mixing cyberpunk with noir. Cyberpunk has obviously been done to death already, and mostly by people with far less imagination than even the developers of Chinatown Detective Agency, but noir wouldn’t be recognisable unless you throw in a few well-worn story tropes. Anyway, it’s a sound enough premise for a game, backed up by some pretty good pixel art and animation that, while a little hit and miss in places, do succeed in bringing this future version of Singapore to life in an appropriately cyberpunk-y way. A few years back I played through Technobabylon (which is another cyberpunk-set adventure game where you play a detective) and had a reasonably decent time with it, and at first glance there’s no real reason why the same shouldn’t be true of Chinatown Detective Agency.
I am the worst person to write a review of Elden Ring. My objections to From Software’s Dark Souls series have been pretty well-documented over the years, along with my visceral negative reactions whenever I see design elements from Dark Souls turn up in other games. Asking me for my opinion about a game that is just Dark Souls again, but this time also open world, seems like it’s going to a forgone conclusion — especially because I’m starting to get increasingly irritated by open world games too.
But that means I am also the best person to write a review of Elden Ring. I do not have the massive rose-tinted glasses for Dark Souls and From Software that the entire rest of the gaming world does. I am not so invested in my cred as a Hardcore Gamer that I regard smashing my face against the same boss for four hours as a rational and sane thing to be doing with my time. I have had zero exposure to the pre-release hype. And the reviews from the mainstream gaming media made my eyeballs roll so hard they practically did a complete 360 degree rotation in their sockets. 10/10! Game of the year! One of the finest games ever made! A predictably vomitous stream of superlatives that I almost felt compelled to prove wrong, hence my breaking the From Software moratorium I’ve had in place ever since Dark Souls 2 and picking up Elden Ring on release.
Only to find myself thinking, after a few hours of play: shit. They might actually be right.