Horizon: Zero Dawn

The Game

It’s been a couple weeks since gameplay footage for Horizon: Forbidden West were shared by game developers Guerilla Games. With that you may be asking yourself if it’s time you finally played Horizon: Zero Dawn if you haven’t already or giving it a replay if you already own it. The short answer is YES.

For those who haven’t already played it, Horizon: Zero Dawn is set in a post-apocalyptic version of our world, where the earth is roamed by giant mechanical beasts and civilization has descended into warring tribal factions. You play as the badass machine hunter from the Nora tribe – Aloy, a woman outcast as a child with a mysterious past that is more connected to the state of the planet than she thinks.

The tutorial zone brings you up to speed with hunting machines and sneaking around the world, which are the main two actions that comprise the core gameplay loop. There are a variety of machines and classes, much like animals in the real world. Each machine will have one or more elemental types, vulnerable spots (hit these), and behaviour. Initially you’ll start out with a bow and staff as your weapons, but as the game progresses you will amass an arsenal capable of taking down even the toughest machines. You’ll have access to bows, traps, slingshots and some more unique weapons like the ropecaster, rattler or tearblaster.

Once you’ve completed the tutorial zone you’ll be thrown onto into the massive open world onto your mission – this is where the game really opens up and let’s you do whatever you please. There are loads of side quests, collectibles and challenges to keep you in the game for ages and as if that wasn’t enough, the game has an awesome photo mode which will allow you to tinker with Aloy’s pose, filters and many other options – allowing you to get the perfect shot.

Worth it?

Generally you can find the game on sale for around £10.00 including the Frozen Wilds DLC, which is an absolute steal. If you focus on only the main quests, the main game will probably take you around 20-25 hours to complete, but if you’re like me and end up helping almost everyone you meet or getting side tracked with collectibles and various other activities you’re looking at at least 40 hours. The game is a visual masterpiece – the thought and details behind every machine are amazing, the scenery, the landscape and the story all deliver on a both a personal and a big picture scale. There are some minor ease of life improvements to be desired like being able to pay to fill your medicine pouch, also sometimes the climbable areas can be a little hard to see, but none of these are really deal breakers. The size of the world and amount of things to do can be a bit daunting and I did occasionally struggle to find the motivation to finish it, but I was very glad when I did finally see it through to a close.

Overall the narrative, character design, aesthetics and gameplay will transport you to another world. The size of the world and the amount of things to do will keep you busy for days. Some fights will really get your heart going and the story will make you think about the world and humanity as a whole. This is a modern classic, making it most certainly a must play. With a sequel coming soon, it’s definitely worth picking this up, especially considering the low prices.

Tips

  • Get the machine override components as soon as you can
  • Choose your fights – you don’t have to take down every machine you see
  • Farm animals for meats and skins
  • Upgrade your carrying/ammo capacity from the “Crafting” part of the menu
  • Rather than trying to figure out a machine’s weaknesses with your focus in the fight, open the menu and check your notebook for details on all scanned machines
  • Use overrides to pit machines against each other
  • Use the ropecaster to tie down flying enemies
  • The tearblaster is incredibly strong at close range and can help strip a machine of it’s most lethal weapons
  • Aim to get the purple level weapons/armour as soon as you can, you can also have a variety of weapons to switch between depending on the enemy
  • The lure/call skill can be very useful when trying to pull a specific machine to a stealth area for a quick and quiet kill

Useful Links

Final Fantasy VII Remake

The Game

Final Fantasy VII Remake by Square Enix is a brilliant introduction to the Final Fantasy series for anyone who’s never played any of the other games in the series. The original game was released in 1997 and made quite the impression. 23 years later the remake version was released. It keeps much of the original story, modernises the visuals and and has a truly unique battle system.

The game is a JRPG with “turn based” strategy elements in the combat – they aren’t really turn based, but you can essentially pause time and pick a move to perform. During fights you will be battle using your basic and heavy attacks to fill your ATB gauge, once that’s filled you can essentially pause the game and choose from a variety of spells and abilities to perform on your enemies. This system is quite rewarding, and fun to use, the combat itself can be quite hard as you block and dodge attacks and spells. There are some truly epic boss fights and monsters in this game, becoming more and more powerful as the story progresses.

The story is based around a group of “eco-terrorists” attempting to take down the evil corporation Shinra that is destroying the planet by draining it of its magical life force – mako. It’s set in a steam-punk(ish) fantasy world and you play as Cloud, an ex-SOLDIER – as you find out that means you have some pretty unique combat skills and are generally quite powerful. You are a mercenary, but you find yourself helping out Avalanche (the eco-terrorists) and cultivating your friendships with the key characters of the game. The game is rich with amazing side characters and stories all set in a detailed semi-open world (zone/level-based).

Worth it?

The game has a gripping story that makes you want to keep playing for hours on end. The combat system is quite unique, although it can take some time to master blocking due to the fact that dodge can be somewhat unreliable. There are some truly epic boss fights and the game is visually stunning. Levels are generally quite linear (except the more notable districts). The game is exclusive to PlayStation and will set you back around £60 on the PlayStation store, so you may want to keep on the lookout for better deals or discounts. Admittedly it’s only a year old and has hours of gameplay for you – with side questing (which I highly recommend), it took me around 32 hours to complete the game.

Overall I’d highly recommend the game, especially for anyone who’s never played a Final Fantasy game – it turns out there’s actually little connecting the various games in the franchise story wise, so this is as good a game as any to jump into the series. The game offers a good challenge, hours of gameplay, a rewarding and unique combat system, stunning graphics and a compelling story.

Tips

  • Always have Materia equipped so that you can level them up – they increase their level simply for being equipped in battle
  • Get the Assess Materia as soon as you have an option to do the side quest for Chadley, which is basically one of the first side quests in the game
  • Use blue Materia in linked slots in order to enhance or interact with the other Materia – Magnify and Elemental are two of the more notable ones
  • Always be on the look out for hidden chests and destroy any Shinra boxes you encounter
  • Interrupt enemy spells by using spells or abilities on them while casting (while they have a red text above them)
  • You can reset your weapon points/upgrades by visiting Chadley
  • You can use healing spells outside of combat

Useful Links

STEEP

The Game

STEEP by Ubisoft is an open world extreme sports simulator that will keep you coming back for more. Locked up and unable to practice your favourite winter sports or if you ever played SSX back in the day? Check out STEEP – the game throws you into a vast open world of mountains, cliffs and beautiful scenery. There are 5 base sports to choose from: skiing, snowboarding, paragliding, wingsuit or the rocket wingsuit. You can also purchase some additional sports like sledging, speed skiing (skiing with a parachute) or base jumping.

The core gameplay is focused around completing various challenges around the map. There are challenges for each of the base sports and various difficulties and types of challenge. Some will challenge you for freestyle points and tricks, others for extreme situations (like wing-suiting near the ground) or even the bone breaker challenges, which may leave you needing a new controller. With some of the harder challenges you will find yourself retrying for ages until you get that perfect line. That aspect of the game is quite addictive as it’s a great sense of satisfaction you get after attempting something 50 times and then you manage to pull it off in style. It can also be extremely zen to just plough throw the fresh powder and take in the scenery. There is also a snap photo option for some artistic shots and for any run or line you’ve done you’ll be able to watch the replay back in full to find that perfect moment where you pulled off a crazy trick.

The game also offers up a multiplayer playlist challenges and there’s also several ways to interact with other players while out in the mountain, like pairing up and just free riding together or publishing a sick line you’ve just pulled off as a challenge for all your friends. The main game offers you up the Alps and Alaska as the main two mountains – the Alps being the main game location with the majority of challenges. The game also has access to another mountain range in Japan, however you will need to purchase this using either in game currency or buying one of the DLCs. There are quite a few cosmetic items and DLCs available as “micro” transactions, there is also an in game store where you can purchase various equipment to customise your character with. You have a choice of a handful of pre-existing characters and you can customise their looks for each of the sports.

Worth it?

While the game does offer an amazing gameplay experience, some truly breath-taking landscapes and loads of fun challenges it’s a bit of a shame that Ubisoft have in a way retired the game. Apart from the occasional weekly challenge, there really isn’t much else going on – a lot of the focus has moved onto Riders Republic (set to be released late 2021), which is going to be the spiritual successor to STEEP. The DLCs are overpriced and offer a handful of extra challenges, which may keep you busy for a day or two. I will note however that being able to purchase the Japan map and the extra sports with in-game currency is quite a cool idea; it would have been interesting to have an option to buy the DLC in the same way.

Overall, it’s an amazing game and definitely worth a play even though it’s past its heyday. Try and get it while on sale and if you intend on buying the DLC do so first and save your in-game currency for cosmetics instead of tickets. Personally I don’t think the DLCs bring all that much to the table, but when you run out of challenges you may find yourself contemplating them. It’s a game that will keep you coming back for a long time and may even frustrate you to new heights (especially trying some of the crazy wingsuit challenges).

Tips

  • Learn when to stop spinning when in flight in order to land properly – generally speaking let go a few second before landing to give yourself time to correct
  • Hold the right stick in a direction before jumping and making a grab to do different grabs (nosegrab/tailgrab/etc)
  • When you reach level 25 you get infinite helicopter tickets (don’t bother buying any before), you can then use these to teleport anywhere you like
  • You can play X-games challenges in multiplayer
  • You can purchase additional sports and tickets for Japan using in game currency

Useful Links

Heroism

The Game

Heroism by MINMAXIA is an Early Access game available on Android. It’s a brilliantly deep roguelike(ish) action RPG game with some idle game elements (although it’s not really an idle game). The game has a cool retro pixel style, multiple classes to choose from when creating your hero including some more unusual choices like the Chicken King (and his army of chickens). If you’ve played games like Pokémon Mystery Dungeon you may notice some familiar elements. The game has a lot of classis RPG elements like attributes, active or passive skills, companions, randomised tiered weapons and armours. It’s got it all. There’s also an impressive variety of points you can gain in order to invest into upgrading yourself, your companions and your rewards. This is where the idle elements come in as you can just keep upgrading and upgrading so that when you’re exploring a dungeon you make more and more – you guessed it to spend on more upgrades.

The core game play loop is focused around you exploring dungeons in order to complete various quests a la collect an item, rescue someone or clear all monsters. You can use on screen controls or tap to go to a location – you will encounter mobs and loot on your way through the dungeons. If you play with some of the settings (there’s a lot of settings options) – you can extend the range of your auto attacks so that you path towards any enemy within that range. This allows you to play the game sitting back while your character does the hard work of chasing down mobs, however this may not be the fastest way to navigate the dungeon. As you explore the dungeon each grid space has a “Heroism” orb on it. Personally it took me some time to grasp how all of these various points (there’s also experience, kill streak, progress points, death points) are accumulated and I think I was a bit confused by the similar shape of the Heroism and Experience Orb. However once you do get the hang of it collecting them and investing them strategically is highly rewarding. Even death gives you points to invest in death driven events.

Worth it?

Heroism is a brilliantly simple and charming game that’s definitely worth a play. It’s good as both an active game or more of a sit back and enjoy the ride type of game (almost like an idle) as you watch your hero destroy enemies and explore dungeons. It would be great to see how much more can be done with the game – things like making the story missions a bit more special, almost like adding cutscenes or special events to them to make them feel a bit different. It would also be great to see some new types of missions added or even other towns with NPCs as more of the map is discovered.

Overall, it’s definitely worth checking out – it can be quite addictive as you keep thinking – just one more dungeon. There’s so many different types of points to upgrade and invest in, some really interesting settings and options too. It would be great to see even more done with the game as after a while the core gameplay loop does get a bit repetitive, but the increasing difficulty after each main story mission and the various types of dungeon will keep you on it for a while. There’s virtually no gatcha elements, you can watch ads if you like, but they are very non-intrusive, you can purchase an ad-free version for £3.79 as a great means to support the developer.

Tips

  • Extend the range of your auto-attack in order to go directly to any enemies within the dungeon
  • If enemies are very easy, you may want to increase the minimum enemy level
  • Invest in the range of your auto collects
  • Necromancer and Chicken King are great for passive play as their minions will do a lot of the dirty work
  • Progress the main story quest whenever you can
  • Get a companion as they’ll help collecting loot and clearing the dungeons faster
  • If you do a rescue mission you can then go into another dungeon and the person you rescued will help you out

Useful Links

Just Cause 4

The Game

Just Cause 4 developed by Avalanche Studios Group and published by Square Enix is the 4th iteration in a series of games that you can’t have missed. Often branded as the ultimate open world game, Just Cause 4 allows you wreak havoc on the world using your un-ending arsenal of crazy weapons and vehicles. If you’ve never played a Just Cause game, don’t worry about playing older ones first – the story will throw you straight in. The story doesn’t really have all that much substance to it, it’s just a series of increasingly crazier missions and stunts tied together through some cheesy dialogue and a familiar revenge arc.

In terms of mechanics the game continues to do what Just Cause has always done so well and that is to cause as much destruction using every tool in your arsenal. If you’ve never played any of the games, there really isn’t much to it. Destroy red/white/silver (aka chaos objects) objects for points, use your grapple and grapple mods to play around with game physics and parachute and wingsuit across the island. In addition to the main story missions there are also regions that need to be liberated by completing a mission in the main base – this is quite reminiscent of a Far Cry type of gameplay where you go around the map liberating outposts to improve your control of the region.

The main story will keep you occupied for around 15-20 hours, but there are hundreds of tasks and challenges to complete around the map. Personally, as with most games, I found it difficult to find the motivation to come back and complete challenges after completing the main story line, but if you’re ever after a good time waster you can always come back to attempt the challenges. Apart from the challenges, most side-quests feel a bit repetitive and apart from unlocking further mod upgrades they don’t give you all that much in return.

It’s worth mentioning the grapple hook and grapple mods – if you haven’t played a Just Cause game before this will be a bit of a weird one for you. Essentially Rico (the main character) has a grapple that he uses to get around the world, however that grapple can also be used to attach 2 objects together, or balloons and boosters to various objects. Through this the game becomes something almost like Gary’s World where you can mess with game physics, build crazy contraptions held together by your grapple and blow stuff up. Ultimately as the name of the game suggests Just Cause things in the world (mainly explosions).

Worth it?

You can easily find the main game for around £6-10 and the Complete Edition for around £12-15. Both of those prices feel pretty fair for what the game has to offer. It will definitely keep you busy for a while, but also provides a fun sandbox in which you can mess around and explode things – and let’s face it that sounds pretty fun. The Complete Edition includes the game expansions which will keep you busy beyond the main story mission. It’s probably worth going for the Complete Edition as it will give you more than just the main game.

Overall Just Cause 4 continues the series’ established track record. It’s a great open-world physics sandbox in which you can fly, fight and explode things to your hearts content. A great game to let off some steam and just cause (no pun intended) some chaos. While the story may be quite basic, the actual game map is absolutely immense, easily one of the biggest open world games out there and while certain patches of it can feel a bit dead there are also plenty of regions, cities and challenges dotted around the map to keep you going for a while.

Tips

  • Switch between different grappler mod loadouts, also the grapple is your BFF – master it
  • Don’t grow too attached to weapons – maybe a specific type, but you’ll find yourself changing weapons quite often
  • When on a mission, don’t kill all enemies unless instructed to, focus on completing the objectives instead as that’s what’s actually required to progress the mission
  • Use airdrops before invading a base so that you can properly equip yourself and prep
  • Switch between parachute and wingsuit and combine that with your grapple for the best way to get around the map
  • Hijack helicopters by grappling onto them
  • When falling, grapple onto the ground to avoid taking fall damage

Useful Links

Spider-Man (2018)

The Game

Spider-Man by Insomniac Games is a PS4 exclusive released in 2018. WARNING there may be some spoilers ahead. The game let’s you play as your favourite friendly neighbourhood Spider-Man in a fresh take on the story. The game throws you straight into the action as your first task is to take on Wilson Fisk aka the Kingpin, but fret not, putting him in prison is only the start of your adventure…

The story sees you take on various criminal organisations and both familiar and less familiar super-villains. However a large part of the game is based in the world outside of the story. Whereas normal games may have a few open world objectives, this game is actually packed with bases, challenges, collectibles and mini-side-quests. There are also a few side quests, but personally I think a few more could have been added, although with all the other open world objectives I understand why there aren’t that many. Completing quests will unlock Spidey costumes, each with their own unique abilities that you can mix and match across suits. The suits are a great element to the game and really keep you collecting the various tokens you need in order to unlock them. Each suit power is quite unique and it doesn’t feel like there’s necessarily a hierarchy but rather different powers for different play styles.

As the story progresses you will but heads with super-villains like Electro, Rhino and even Doc Ock (to name a few), while also learning about Norman Osborn and Otto Octavious’ past. At this point it’s probably worth mentioning Miles Morales – if you have watched Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, you will already know who this is although his story hasn’t quite begun yet in this story line. Some missions will let you play as Miles or MJ where you need to rely on your stealth to get past enemies (as you can’t match Spidey’s powers). These missions provide a nice break from fighting as Spider-Man and slow down the pace a little so that you can appreciate the tension of a given situation. There are also a couple mini games that recur in both main missions and side quests, these are generally pretty easy to solve, some of the more complex ones can be pretty fun to solve.

The combat is a fairly familiar combo-based type with access to nifty gadgets, badass finishers and aerial combat. Unlike other games with such combat (like Batman or Shadow of Mordor), you’re reliant on your Spidey sense to dodge incoming attacks as opposed to parrying or countering specific enemies. This takes some getting used to as combat is all about mobility, frequent dodging and the use of your gadgets. As you progress you will be able to upgrade your gadgets and unlock new and improve skills from the skill tree.

Worth it?

The Game of the Year edition was on sale for £26.99 when I purchased it recently, but generally speaking you shouldn’t be paying more than £30 for the game, DLC included. The DLC offers a lot of extra gameplay and open world objectives as well. The campaign takes about 20 hours to complete, depending on how much of the city you explore and complete. Swinging around the city is quite an experience and they have really managed to create an immensely packed world with constant activity and distractions for you to get stuck into as you swing around the city. You can never just go from A to B – there’s always something going on somewhere on route that needs your attention.

Overall I would definitely recommend the game to someone looking to keep busy over a long weekend or few days. The open world stuff eventually becomes a bit repetitive and you want to finish the story. Unlocking new suits is awesome, although I found myself sticking to one super power that I generally liked and one power-up configuration too. It didn’t feel like there was much benefit to unlocking other suits other than aesthetic purposes or collecting them. The story is good and fun, albeit fairly predictable for the most part. Generally speaking, a solid game.

Tips

  • Webbing enemies to walls is a way to instantly immobilise them, punching or throwing webbed enemies at walls will stick them to the wall permanently
  • Get the extended perch takedown skill – it increases the range of the perch takedown dramatically, so you don’t have to be directly above or near the enemy – this comes in handy for stealthier missions
  • The perfect dodge to takedown skill can also be very useful as it can allow you to play a bit more defensively if you are getting overwhelmed by dodging at the perfect time and using that to get your takedowns
  • If you feel that you are getting overwhelmed use your gadgets to get out of a bind
  • Experiment with different suit powers to find what works for you

Useful Links

MMA Manager

The Game

MMA Manager by Prey Studios is a mobile game based around running an MMA gym and building a roster of fighters. The game let’s you build and customise your gym, the equipment you choose will let you train your fighters in different disciplines. Of course you’ll need trainers and coaches as well to boost specific stats from each discipline. You can set your fighters to train for either a short or long period of time (minutes or hours).

Once you’re confident in your fighters ability you can take them to the arena and choose from a selection of fight modes. Campaign provides a good challenge but little rewards, whereas the quick match gives a somewhat decent reward and if you have a good fighter you can go on some good winning streaks. Tournaments consists of a series of fights at various time intervals – a few hours apart. They offer a great payout if you can make it to the end. Gym fights are 7v7 mode where you take on other player’s gyms – the matchmaking on these feels a little imbalanced and you also want to make sure most of your fighters are the same level.

The game offers some great gym customisation options and potential for upgrades. Fighters also feature a talent tree that you can unlock as you level them up. There are 3 main “special” martial arts – BJJ, Wrestling and Muay Thai, they allow you to upgrade the most stats. There are also more specific routines for less stats upgraded. This is where the short and long training sessions are useful. If you are looking to be fairly active, do a few fights, check back in the gym – then you can set a short training sessions. If you’re going to be offline for a while, use the long ones. Before each fight you will get an overview of your opponent and you can adapt your strategy going into the fight. The fights themselves can be quite fun to watch and can deliver some pretty exciting results (the fighters are not player controlled), but there is a skip option should you get bored of them.

Worth it?

The gatcha element isn’t too bad on this one, you can get on fine without needing to worry about premium currency and while cashflow can be a bit challenging at times, a good winning spree and completing daily quests can help in that department.

Overall the gameplay can get a bit repetitive, it’s also an always online so you won’t be able to play it without internet. Initial progress can be quite fast before hitting the first major hurdles. Other than that however it offers a good deal of gameplay and a nice element of strategy, as well customisation. It’s worth it if you’re looking to play a few active sessions a day and it’ll keep you coming back for a good while, but will eventually begin to feel a bit repetitive.

Tips

  • Avoid Gym vs Gym unless most of your characters are around the same level (you will need 7 to do this)
  • Check and ensure that the trainers you hire will work with any equipment as well as actually contribute to the fighter’s stats (after a while a fighter will outgrow the trainer and will no longer gain stats)
  • Leaving a player idle for a while will give them a training boost – this allows you to receive double stats awards on short trainings
  • Buy decoration for your gym as it’s the best way to get prestige – more expensive doesn’t necessarily mean more prestige
  • When fighting other players – look at the types of hits they’ve made the most of statistically and block/defend against those.

Useful Links

Vampyr

The Game

Vampyr by Focus Home Interactive is a decision based action RPG, heavily focused on dialogue and decisions that will affect the world around you. The game is available on virtually every console and will see you take on 1918 London in the midst of the Spanish Flu epidemic – it’s actually quite amazing to observe the parallels with our 2020 pandemic. As the title suggests however, influenza isn’t the only thing going around London. You wake up as a newly born vampire on a mission to find out how and why you were turned. Being a vampire you can only go out at night, meaning the game is quite dark and grey but that works well to create a good atmosphere and really plunge you into the chaos of disease ridden 1918 London. Some of the public health posters and messaging in game are especially close to home in 2020.

The game’s core mechanic is your ability to prey on the civilians that still inhabit London. These are NPCs with side quests and stories that you can delve into through the plentiful dialogue options. The more you know about someone, the more XP they will give you if you feast on their blood. However, if you prey on too many civilians you will plunge the neighbourhood into chaos, killing all other civilians and causing it to be overrun by enemies. This in itself is an amazing take on a decisions matter type game. The importance of each character, the respective XP and their own personal story will all factor into your decision on whether to spare their life or take it – it makes for some really gripping story telling and some very critical decisions that will affect everything around you.

The combat is predominantly melee options between various weapon types, there are also ranged weapons but I found I only needed them in the more challenging boss fights. The combat starts out feeling a bit clunky, but as you level up and improve your skills it becomes more fast paced and exciting, but you still need to have your wits about you and make sure you dodge out the way in time. You’ll find yourself fighting all sorts of vampiric creatures as well as vampire hunters while you explore the various London boroughs.

Worth it?

Generally speaking the game will set you back £34.99, however it’s frequently on sale – you can get it for under a tenner. It was also free in October’s PS Plus games, so if you haven’t downloaded it yet – I would definitely recommend you do. The game offers a good deal of game play especially if you fully engage with dialogue options and characters, there are times when all you will be doing is talking to people (for a considerable amount of time). To a degree the basic dialogue options are similar, but the more you find out about other citizens the more dialogue options you get. Depending on what fate you choose for people in London the game also offers a good deal of replay value. Each major boss will offer you a choice and there are actually 4 different endings to the story depending on the choices you make. These choices will also affect dialogue with NPCs and even your ability to complete quests or purchase items. In that regard the game does an amazing job of really making every decision impactful. However, I would note that most of the key plot points will remain the same, but dialogue, district status and ending scene will be affected.

Overall I would recommend getting the game on sale when possible, being a couple years old I am not sure I can justify the full price. Personally I am not really one for replaying something so story driven, but for a completionist there is some replay value. At times the game does feel like a conversation simulator, but the dialogue is well written and well acted, it can just get a bit tedious trying to find out as much as you can about everyone. One weird design decision is that there’s no fast travel, which most of the time is ok, but there are times when it would have been a great feature, especially considering you have “safe houses” around the city that act as bases. The music and atmosphere of the game are great and give it a great cinematic feel and the aesthetics are great despite the fact that the colour palette consists of mainly greys and red. The game will definitely keep you busy for a few days and maybe even give you a bit of insight into how bad things were in one of the worst pandemics man kind has experienced.

Tips

  • Buy handle parts whenever you can, especially the rarer ones
  • Curing people of their illnesses will help stabilise your district – it’s always worth carrying a few spare medicines around
  • Certain dialogue options will mean you fail to discover a clue about someone, so be careful what you say
  • If you plunge a district into chaos all remaining civilians will be killed, so if things aren’t looking too good – make sure to harvest their XP before resting
  • A good tactic for big XP gains is to complete everyone’s side quests in a district and learn as much as you can about them before feeding on them, probably best to do this once your Mesmerise Level is high enough to get most civilians in the area

Useful Links

Gumslinger

The Game

Gumslinger by Itatake is a mobile physics based action game about a good ol’ fashioned Western shootout. The game has simple controls – swipe to draw your gun and tap to fire. Aim for your opponent’s weak spots and you’ll win the dual, get hit and you’ll go all wibbly wobbly, because yes – you are made of gum.

The game is has you collecting various Gumslinger characters, unlocking new guns and completing challenges. You progress the most by duelling other player’s characters in tournaments, it’s not actual PvP – although that would be a nice addition to the game. The tournaments take place in 5 stages, you have a chance to heal between rounds provided you have a medkit – you can usually buy one for 100 coins (you can watch adds for coins), or you may unlock them through progress. Winning the tournament gets you a hefty amount of coins (150) and doubles it if you’ve completed it with a new character. This is the core gameplay loop and for what it’s worth it’s quite addictive. Super simple concept that works, but be warned you may end up throwing your phone at the wall in frustration at some points when you think you’ve won the round, just to get sniped at the last second.

Worth it?

The game is free to play, but also offers a £4.99 Pro version – which gives you more rewards, no ads (unless you want extra coins), the ability to customise your gumslinger’s colours and a skin pack for guns. The game’s ads are generally non-intrusive and allow for a good amount of uninterrupted play. If you’re someone who likes customising their characters then it may be worth getting the Pro version, but other than that it’s a bit on the expensive side for what it offers. At least it’s a one off and will help support the developers, who are constantly bringing our new characters.

Overall it’s a great time-waster – perfect for a quick 5 minute session while you are waiting for something or trying to kill time. It can be extremely rage inducing and a live PvP mode could add to it quite a lot.

Tips

  • Check the strengths and weaknesses of various characters – but generally aim for the head
  • Try and win tournaments with a new character every time to maximise your winnings

Useful Links

Genshin Impact

The Game

Genshin Impact by miHoYo came out last week and it’s really something. The game is absolutely immense and best of all it’s free to play. Genshin Impact is an open world anime action RPG. The game features a character collection (the gatcha) element with a fairly familiar upgrade and ascension system whereby you can trade in gems and weak gear to upgrade and ascend the levels and ranks of your best gear or character. It starts out very story driven with a decent amount of questing to be done in order to get you up and running. But once you’ve got through most of that it really opens up in terms of questing and exploration that you can do. The world is big, not massive but with a packed good amount of treasures, mobs, side quests and collectibles.

The game is available on basically every single platform. I played it mostly on Android and that’s probably the most significant platform that it’s available on – this is a great game regardless, but for a mobile game there isn’t much quite like there. The game offers Zeldaesque pastel scenery and a really punchy, dynamic and fun combat system based around elements, weaknesses and combinations, forcing you to swap between characters to deal with different enemies. You are also accompanied by a Claptrap-level nuisance with a similarly annoying voice – Paimon your “trusted” assistant. Together you are on a mission so you may be reunited with your lost twin and help restore order to the realm (standard fantasy stuff here really). One feature that it could use is some sort of target lock system when in combat, especially on mobile as the camera can be a bit hard to control during an intense fight.

Worth it?

The game is free to play and from about 20hrs of playing I am yet to feel a real pay wall or gatcha element. There are no ads and there’s so much to do that I haven’t thought twice about any catches. Where I am sure this game will begin to challenge you is ascending your characters to the higher level and getting more of the rare ones. Nothing a bit of grinding can’t achieve – you get a decent amount of Primogems completing various tasks and quests – these can be exchanged for Wish, which can be spent on loot boxes for better characters or weapons. However you can also find rare loot in dungeons and from bosses, so there are definitely ways to get there without spending your hard earned cash. The game also offers cross-save for PC and mobile, PS4 sadly is not included in that.

Overall I’d say that this game has really elevated free open world RPGs especially for mobile. A massive open world, a great story, plenty of quests, regular updates, a lot more in the pipeline, events, the list goes on. Be warned it is a battery drainer, always requires a internet connection and is a hefty download. You can’t really have a proper play session in under 10mins on it so it’s definitely not a casual mobile game. If you are into RPGs and detailed open worlds and story with a lot of depth then definitely check this out.

Tips

  • You can heal your party at the Statues of the Seven
  • You can exchange your Primogems in the Shop for Wish which you can spend on loot boxes in the Wish section of the Paimon menu
  • Check your mail for rewards and daily login prizes
  • Learn the elemental weaknesses and combinations
  • Cook food and utilise the food bonuses you get off certain dishes before a big fight

Useful Links