Slime Rancher

The Game

With the recent release of Slime Rancher 2, I went back to the original to see where it all began and what all the hype was about. As the name suggest Slime Rancher (developed by Monomi Park) is a game that revolves around farming and exploiting adorable (but sometimes dangerous) slimes. You explore the open world vacuuming up unsuspecting and rare slimes after which you bring them back to your ranch where they are stored in corrals and fed various foods in order to obtain their most valuable resource – plorts. Each different kind of slime will drop its own kind of plorts, different plorts sell for different prices and those will fluctuate depending on how many you’ve sold recently and the in-game economy.

If a slime eats another slime’s plorts you will get a so called Largo slime – an extra large hybrid slime of the two types (producing 2 types of plorts) these larger slimes are harder to handle as they can’t be sucked up as you can only move one at a time. The danger with these slimes is that if they eat a third type of plort they can become tar slimes – a destructive and dangerous slime that can quickly decimate your ranch and other slimes. As you progress in the open world you will also find Gordos – special extra large slimes that need to be force-fed in order to unlock portals and keys to new areas of the map. New and sometimes dangerous slimes are discovered as you progress as well – some explosive, others radioactive.

Worth it?

Generally speaking the game will set you back around £10 to £15, although with Slime Rancher 2 being released recently I would expect this to drop soon (the game is available for free as part of the PS Plus Extra tier too). Overall the game takes around 14 hours to complete depending on what you focus on, if you’re not out there overfeeding gordos and unlocking new areas it will take you a lot longer (but then again there’s so much to do on the ranch that I don’t blame you). The game is very good at keeping you busy constantly – the “one more day” moment is definitely there and can easily absorb you for extended periods of time. The game concept is simple but very effective and there are plenty of things to unlock and do – from timed challenges to crafting and research. The open world presents a bit of a traversal challenge and sometimes can feel as if you’re trying to break it with some of the areas you can jetpack to, the ability to unlock portals and quicker routes is also helpful as navigating the fairly big open world can get a bit tedious, especially if you have to go anywhere near water with an inventory full of goodies as falling in water will cause them to all be lost.

The game is a fun and generally relaxing experience, exploring and discovering new areas can seem scary but is also actually quite chill as even the more dangerous slimes can be vacced up quite easily or you can always run from them. Even if the farming element gets a bit repetitive, the open world and lore take you on quite the adventure. If you’re after a chill farming type game with some really cute slimes then it’s definitely worth checking out.

Tips

  • Unlock the jetpack early
  • Feed a slime its favourite food for a double plort yield
  • Feed a gordo its favourite food and you only have to feed it half the amount of food
  • Tars spread faster at night
  • Complete daily quests for cash and special rewards
  • Get the water tank upgrade early and always keep it full – water instantly kills tar slimes
  • Phosphorous slimes only appear at night and will die if exposed to sunlight
  • Farming largos allows you to get 2 types of plort from one corral
  • Store and sell plorts when their price is high (when you sell a large amount the price will then drop for some considerable time)
  • Get a farm going early on
  • Getting high walls or a net on your corral can help prevent slimes from escaping (they will try to escape if there’s food nearby)
  • Do not give a largo a third type of plort or it will become a tar
  • You can unlock new areas to expand in by unlocking the overgrowth or the grotto (you can take care of phosphorus slimes in there without a solar shield
  • Completing quests for other ranchers on their ranch can eventually unlock even more area to expand to and other special prizes

Useful Links

Graveyard Keeper

The Game

Graveyard Keeper developed by Lazy Bear Games and published by tinyBuild is an indie game that revolves around managing a graveyard (much like the title suggests). The game is comparable to Stardew Valley in many ways: the aesthetic, the fun characters, the crafting, combat to name few. Graveyard Keeper starts you off in a world you are unfamiliar with (you’ve come from present day) , it seems you are stuck in some sort of medieval fantasy world and you need to figure out how to return home to the present day. As it turns out you are the new keeper of the village’s local graveyard, after the previous one mysteriously disappeared. You are introduced to various characters in and around the village and their weekly schedules and quests (the game has 6 days with various events or NPC appearances being tied to each one).

Over time you develop and fix up the old graveyard and your house, you unlock farming, beekeeping, wine and beer making. As the graveyard gets nicer and filled with better “quality” people you will unlock the church which is where the game really takes off. You will be tasked with doing a weekly prayer, this will help you generate faith which leads to the most powerful unlocks in the game. Doing tasks and work generates points – there are three types of points – red (generated by wood/stone/metal work), green (generated by doing farming work) and blue (generated by researching things and high level item crafting). These 3 types of experience points are used to unlock things in the research trees, and there is quite a good amount of things to be unlocked.

Worth it?

The game is incredibly addictive. It has that typical element of “just one more day” or “just one more task” that keeps you on it for crazy amounts of time. What makes the game even more clever is the way the days work – often times quests will require you to do something that’s basically 5 days away, meaning that you have to wait almost an entire week to complete a phase in a quest (during that time you’re obviously doing other quests or tasks). This has the effect of keeping you super busy all the time, following NPCs schedules and working around having a corpse delivered to you every so often as well. The game’s aesthetic is well delivered and can be very eerie at times (especially when the fog roles in). It’s perfectly matched by the sound design of the game and some of the rather dark and funny humour.

Graveyard Keeper will generally set you back around £10, which at first may seem like quite a lot, but the game really offers quite a lot, it’s also cheaper than competitor Stardew Valley. If you can grab it while it’s on sale for around £5, then you’ve got yourself a steal; it’s worth noting the game is also free with PS Plus Extra. While the game’s ending leaves a lot of questions unanswered and there are 3 DLCs that attempt to answer those, each of the DLCs will set you back around £7-8 and add a variety of new stories and gameplay mechanics (like being able to make zombies to automate tasks). The game is highly addictive and will keep you hooked for a considerable amount of time – overall the story can take around 40 hours to complete, but that could easily stretch towards 50-60 depending on what you end up doing.

Tips

  • Get the teleport stone from the Dark Horse tavern as soon as you can afford it – it makes moving around the map so much easier
  • Try to only put high quality corpses in your graveyard, red skulls reduce the appeal of a grave
  • Focus on opening the church in the early game so you can unlock the weekly prayers – these will generate faith for you and unlock the church basement where you can do alchemy and craft new types of items
  • Meet Clotho to unlock the alchemy workbench and skill tree
  • For a perfect 12 skull corpse you will need to have unlocked and use the various embalming injections
  • Blood and fat always remove 1 red skull, organs will account for a random amount of red/white skulls in each body, flesh will always remove 1 white skull
  • The Quarry lets you set up a little base where you can mine iron, stone and marble for extended periods of time – just make sure you have enough materials to build the workstation and storage there
  • Save blood – there’s a late game quest (and speed potions) where you will need quite a lot of it
  • The dungeons save your progress – so if you’ve killed half the mobs on a floor and exit it, that will be saved when you return
  • Throwing bodies into the river is ok, but if you have a poor quality body you’re better off burning it as you still get the burial certificate
  • Once you unlock alchemy and the tier 2 bench get speed potions – but only take them after you’ve had a sauerkraut (as it increases the duration of buffs)
  • Gravestones and fences generate a lot of blue points when being researched
  • You can purchase books containing a specific number of red/green/blue points from the astrologer

Useful Links

GTA V Online: The Contract

The Game

Rockstar recently released another update for GTA V Online The Contract featuring Dr Dre himself. The DLC focuses around the new business (Agency) run by your character and Franklin from the GTA V story. The Agency offers up a bunch of new ways to make money and a series of VIP Contracts in which you focus on retrieving Dr Dre’s stolen phone, containing previously unreleased music. There are several types of normal contracts, varying in pay and difficulty – some will task your character with retrieving stolen valuables or vehicles, destroying caches, killing gang officers or protecting valuables. Each of these jobs can pay anywhere from around $30 000 to around $70 000.

In addition to these jobs, the update has also added payphone hits. A throwback to the original story mode and some of the older games, the player is tasked with carrying out hits against various VIP targets across the city. Each hit comes with a variety of ways in which it can be completed in order to gain the hit bonus, which massively increases the pay for the kill from $15 000 to a total of $85 000.

The Agency itself (which can be purchased from the Dynasty 8 site) comes with a couple of special rooms – an armoury allowing the purchase of specific items (like the taser) and a garage where cars can be customised with some of Imani’s special upgrades. The special vehicle upgrades include remote control over a car, various explosion methods and weapons too.

Worth it?

The DLC adds tons of new content from weapons to vehicles and clothes. The new missions offer an amazing way to make money as a solo player. All agency missions, contracts and hits can be completed solo in an invite only session, essentially making this an amazing single player DLC. The Agency will set you back a couple million dollars, but completing the Dr Dre story line will put $1M back into your account, so that alone makes it quite worth it. With a MK2 the contracts and hits are extremely easy to complete and will massively help you on your money grind. These missions may also come back as 2x or 3x weekly specials which offers up some great earning potential. The unreleased Dr Dre tracks which you then get to listen to and keep are also a really innovative approach to releasing music. My single biggest issue with the DLC is that the tour of Dre’s studio is a mission that requires two players and it seems near impossible to find a second if you don’t have any friends that play GTA V.

Tips

  • You can run over trolls for the payphone hit missions using a MK2
  • The Stone Hatchet (reward from Maude’s bounty hits) is very useful for a lot of the contracts and recovery missions as it will allow you to chain together kills and run through an area unharmed
  • There are some hits that require multiple players working for you
  • All DLC contracts and hits can be played in a Invite only (single player lobby)
  • Completing more contracts will increase the passive income of the agency (stored in the safe in your office) up to a max of $50 000 for every in game day
  • Purchasing the armory allows you to purchase the Stun Gun and the EMP Launcher
  • You can listen to Dr Dre’s tracks (after completing the quests and receiving the USB) from the Media Player radio station – you can select what it plays through the Inventory option in your context menu

Useful Links

Botworld Adventure

The Game

Botworld Adventure by Featherweight is an mobile open world RPG games focused around collecting, upgrading and battling various bots in a huge open world. There’s an overarching main quest line and various contracts (as the game calls daily quests). You can unlock new areas and zones by upgrading your boat, which serves as your home base. As you progress you will unlock power ups, gadgets and various other aspects that will enhance your combat abilities. The main story isn’t something unique or new by any means, but the size of the areas and the variety of quests make this quite a solid open-world RPG, especially considering it’s an Android game.

You will be able to choose the appearance and race of your character before you start. Then in a Pokémon-esque fashion will need to pick your started bot from three available. Then your adventure truly begins. You can upgrade your bots, they will also gain XP and level up which will allow you to pick skills that will enhance them even further. There’s different tiers of bots and different classes – each with it’s own stats and abilities. If you get tired of battling wild bots and bandits you can take your bots to the arena and take on other player’s teams.

At the start of each battle you choose your bots starting position – placing 3 of them in the fighting area. They will then proceed to fight on their own, using their abilities against the enemy bots. You will have access to some special abilities that you can use to influence the battle – these specials can buff your own bots or damage/inhibit enemy ones. The game also makes it look like there are other players wondering around – although these are likely just NPCs made to look like other players.

Worth it?

This game is big. It has a lot to offer, especially considering it’s a free Android game. The low poly graphics and aesthetics are quite appealing, Botworld is brilliantly colourful and vibrant. The world is well designed, lots of nice details and well thought out. There’s a slight downside to contracts (daily/mini quests) as they can take quite a few hours to reset, but you can watch and ad to do so faster. However, it must be noted that there are no in-game ads and there’s no obligation to watch ads or pay for premium versions (there’s a premium currency and you can purchase the Mayoral Membership, which gives you access to extra rewards for around £7.49).

Another way that the game limits you is through battery packs – each time you venture out into the world you will use one up (you have about 5 to start with) – these take time to recharge, although they can be rushed by watching ads. I haven’t found myself needing to watch one. Finding materials for your boat and specific ones for your bots is where the game starts to get a little harder. I found the boat materials quite hard to find and was usually going out on missions solely for that purpose.

Overall the game has a lot to offer and given it’s a free game it’s absolutely worth checking out. Sessions on the game can last anywhere from 10-15 mins to a couple hours, depending on how many batteries you have. The ads aren’t intrusive and there’s no need to spend any money to get the most out of the game. The game itself is quite big (~490MB) and after some time it does tend to get a bit repetitive in terms of quests and offering overall. The combat, the upgrades and the variety in bots gives the game a considerable amount of depth worth exploring, there are also plenty of regions and a long main story line. It has enough elements that will keep you coming back to it every day for a good few weeks minimum.

Tips

  • Remember to always collect the free materials from the shop (sometimes it’s worth buying the ones on sale as well)
  • Pick your fights – there are ways to run around wild bots/bandits so you don’t waste your bots on pointless fights if you have a set objective
  • To get the most out of each battery pack (traveling out into the world) keep fighting till you lose as there’s no penalty for that
  • Your recruits will use the bots you haven’t got equipped – so make sure to upgrade them as well
  • Place your weakest bot last so that your enemy can’t put more of their own bots near it
  • Use auto-battle if you are just grinding familiar enemies or wild bots, however be weary of auto-battle as it doesn’t always place your bots very well
  • Run over critters to capture them
  • You can exit the game at any time and it will continue where you left off

Useful Links

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

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

The Outer Worlds

The Game

The Outer Worlds developed by Obsidian and published by Private Division is a game that may look quite familiar to the more observant amongst you. You would be right to point out the many similarities to Fallout but it’s also worth mentioning that this is the team behind Fallout: New Vegas (but not the newer ones). In a nutshell, The Outer Worlds is what the newer Fallout games should have been.

While it may have a similar retro-futuristic atmosphere to Fallout this game is actually based in the 24th century when humanity has left Earth on its mission to colonise the stars. Similarly to Borderlands you’ll find that corporations and companies are in charge of life on these planets and in a typical hyper-capitalist fashion they are focused on exploiting people until they die – all in the name of maximising their profits. Quite early on you will learn that The Board is in charge of the colony of Halcyon where you now find yourself after being woken up from a hibernation pod, where you’ve spent the last 70 years. However, the colony is in a dire state and it’s up to you to sort it (or not).

The game is heavily decision based, has brilliant dialogue options and gives you an unimaginable amount of freedom. You don’t like this quest giver because they looked at your strange – that’s fine, you can kill them and keep playing. Of course all such decisions will influence the world around you and you’ll quickly learn that every action has consequences and not everything is black and white. There are virtually infinite ways to play through the game, in fact after I finished my first play through I couldn’t just put the game down and instead started a new playthrough immediately, now trying to do the opposite of what I did on the first play through – easier said than done. Virtually every quest will give you at least one decision to make at some point, this will affect the outcome, your relationship with factions and in some cases even the ultimate fate of the colony.

The combat is essentially the established and familiar mechanics seen in the Fallout series. You can choose from a variety of weapon types, be it melee or range, different damage types and weapon mods. This will allow you to customise your weapons so that you can have the perfect gun (or hammer) for any occasion. During combat you can use the TTD (Tactical Time Dilation), which slows down time and allows you to hit enemies in their most vulnerable places.

Worth it?

While the game doesn’t necessarily do that much “new” stuff it cements its place in gaming history with some of the great titles of this genre like Skyrim or Fallout: New Vegas. The Outer Worlds takes an established and successful formula and turns it into an epic masterpiece. The visuals are stunning, the dialogue is extremely well written, the story is compelling, the characters and their backstories and off the cuff comments are brilliant. There are many side quests and regions to explore, each with its own unique challenges. An average play-through of the game will take about 20-25 hours (my first playthrough was 27hrs and I did a lot of side-quests), depending on how many side-quests and dialogue options you engage in, but as mentioned above that’s only going to be one version of the story. You can easily replay the game taking a different approach and be introduced to other stories and characters. The replay value and potential of this game is actually brilliant – while some key story points may remain, getting to them and their outcomes can differ immensely.

If I had to fault it (which is really difficult) I would say occasionally it sounds a bit empty – maybe some sort of radio or a bit more on the music front and there’s the occasional visual bug, but that’s being picky. At full price the game will set you back £49.99 – honestly I do think that’s a bit on the expensive side as its now a couple years old as well, but you can frequently find it on sale for a much more affordable £19.99 – check out the links below for some good deals on CD keys. If on sale, I highly recommend you give it a go (especially if you’re a Fallout fan, who’s been left wanting after recent games). Overall it’s a brilliant game, great visuals, aesthetics, dialogue, story and gameplay. An absolute must play.

Tips

  • If you are doing ok and not being particularly challenged, don’t spend your skill points as you may reach a point where you need a few extra points in a dialogue option or lockpicking and those spare skill points will come in handy.
  • You can actually make your character dumb at the start of the game, which will unlock some [Dumb] dialogue options (and even a dumb ending) – definitely doing a playthrough like that.
  • Persuade/Intimidate/Lie are useful skills to avoid doing leg-work. Being able to talk yourself out of a situation can save you time.
  • There’s always multiple ways to handle a situation. Sometimes you may see a door that’s locked and think it’s the only way through, but if you look around you’ll often find alternative options – maybe a key somewhere, some dialogue or a PC you can hack that will get you through.
  • Generally speaking there’s two main paths to take – you either help The Board or you help Phineas the scientist who saved you. Each option has a variety of main quests you’ll need to complete to progress with many important and impactful decisions along the way.
  • Adding things into your medicine slots means that you will ingest that when you restore your health.

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

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