ABZÛ

The Game

ABZÛ was made by developers Giant Squid Studio and is an underwater adventure experience. Similarly to Journey, the game plunges you into a beautifully designed world without much explanation and lets you figure things out on your own. In ABZÛ you’ll find yourself swimming with the most amazing see creatures as you make your way through a world that seems just a little bit off, and you’ll soon discover there is something disrupting life in the oceans. Venture through different areas and swim with whales, manatees, dolphins, sharks and many many more beautifully simply designed animals. There’s no combat, just exploring and interactions with the world around you. There’s a few simple puzzles, but nothing tedious or stressful. The simple gameplay and graphics accompanied by a brilliant sound track make for an unforgettable experience.

Worth it?

The game normally goes for around £15, but you can find keys or discounts for around £10. The game is currently free on PS4 as well. It will probably only take you a couple hours to complete the game, but those two hours will be one of the most relaxing and compelling experiences you’ve had.

Overall the game is a must see, especially if you can get it while it’s free on PS4. You won’t really get a lot of gameplay for the money, but there is a deal of replay value as there are a few collectables hidden in each of the main areas. It’s also a great game to let a friend play through when they visit and just to watch as they experience the vibrant world and help restore the ocean.

Tips

  • Look out for the coral portals (they have an orange interaction pyramid above them), they are dotted throughout the levels and will add/release a bunch of trapped animals
  • Hold L2 (PS4) or Shift (PC) to hitch a ride on an animal – you can also take control of that animal
  • You can flip or get an animal to do a flip

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

Big Pharma

The Game

Big Pharma by Twice Circled is a simulation game available on virtually every platform (except mobile). The game is a conveyer belt manufacturing simulator in which you combine various ingredients to create new and wonderful medicines to help people with their illnesses. Overall the concept is fairly simple, however the initial learning curve can be quite steep. There are quite a few tutorial missions and they can be quite daunting, but once you get to grips with the mechanics you’ll also realise that the game does quite a good job of telling you exactly what to do with each ingredient to achieve the desired effect. Note that I played the PS4 version, so some comments may be specific to that, the obvious benefit (as usual) of having a PC version is mods – although these aren’t available through the Steam Workshop as with other games, so may be a bit of a hassle.

The game features research trees and various exploration missions that you need to undertake in order to discover new ingredients and improve your machinery. At it’s most basic level the game is based around increasing or decreasing the concentration of various ingredients in order to achieve desired effects (these can be seen in the info panel of each ingredient). When at a certain concentration some ingredients can be combined with others or run through a specific machine in order to change or upgrade their effect completely. This is where the game gets interesting and a lot more complex. Combining various ingredients and increasing/decreasing their concentration until you achieve the perfect cure can be quite a complex process and if you don’t do it efficiently enough, you won’t be making much of a profit.

Worth it?

Generally speaking the game will set you back between £20-30. Honestly I find that a bit on the expensive side, so look out for any offers. It does offer a lot of scenarios to play through and a lot of depth and there’s a free build mode too. On PS4 the controls can be a bit of a challenge to get used to and don’t always feel very intuitive to use, it sort of goes without saying that it’s a game made for a PC.

Overall other than some control issues and the slightly elevated price, the game is quite addictive and can be really satisfying once you get that supply chain up and running properly, it has some really satisfying sound effects and will keep you coming back for more. There’s plenty of scenarios to keep you playing for a while and if you’re playing on PC you can even have a go with modding the game.

Tips

  • Keep an eye on each ingredient’s info card – it will tell you what concentration you have to get it to and what device you then need to use to get the desired effect
  • The info card will also tell you the total manufacturing cost and medicine value – don’t overextend for really good drugs early on as you won’t have the machinery to make the production line efficient enough and you’ll end up losing money
  • Hire researchers as soon as you can afford to so that you can begin researching better machinery – focus on the agglomerator and ioniser
  • If you can’t get rid of a negative side-effect, turn that medicine into a cream – it will reduce the negative score from the bad side-effect by 50%

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

The Bonfire 2: Uncharted Shores

The Game

The Bonfire 2: Uncharted Islands by Xigma Games is a sequel to the quite compelling The Bonfire: Forsaken Lands. If you’ve played the original you will be familiar with the general concept of managing your settlers and expanding your settlement around the ever-burning bonfire. The first game showed a lot of potential and could get quite challenging, it was also presented as a 2D “side-scrolling” game. In this epic sequel the game developer has moved from a 2D world into a full 3D one for something of a paper-cut out aesthetic.

The game will challenge you to grow and expand your settlement while ensuring you manage your resources and workers in such a way so as to maintain optimal food and resource supplies. Where The Bonfire games differentiate from some other city builders is the nightly attacks. Every evening various beasts – ranging from wolves to spiders and other quite scary monsters will swarm your village and attack your settlers. You will need to ensure you’ve always got enough guards on patrol and that they are all well equipped. The sequel adds even more depth to what was already a quite deep mobile game. There are a good variety of buildings and production chains which will challenge you to expand your settlement even further than before. You also keep unlocking more buildings with practically every building you construct.

Be weary though – some of your settlers may decide to steal from you or leave you! All settlers have unique characteristics and special skills. The skills combined with suitable tools will allow you to specialise your people for the role they were born to do, be it farmer or guard. The settlers will share their thoughts with you regularly and won’t hesitate to let you know when they are unhappy – something you really want to avoid.

Worth it?

A free version of the game is available, but you are only limited to 10 nights. Personally I didn’t really like this method of getting me to buy the full version for £4.49 on mobile and £9.29 on PC. I would have preferred limiting the number or types of buildings that can be created in the free version, because 10 days are up quite quick and you are essentially forced into the full version.

Free version aside, the paid version is – generally-speaking – worth buying. There are some slight issues, like some performance issues with bigger settlements, not being able to remove trees, some minor visual bugs and it can be quite battery intensive. As a mobile game this is definitely a great choice as there are no gatcha elements and you will find yourself thinking – just one more night for quite a while until you realise you’ve spent the last 3 hours on the game. The expeditions allow you to discover new islands and continue scaling up your resource production. I am unsure if I can justify the full price for PC, although I would also expect less performance issues. The game is also still being worked on and developed further so there will hopefully be future updates with even more amazing things to do with your settlement.

Overall definitely worth checking out, you can always play the demo/free version and if you decide it’s something you like, you will have to purchase the full version to play any further.

Tips

  • You can’t remove or move trees/rocks – plan accordingly
  • Make sure you can equip your workers with carts and appropriate tools (especially builders) – this will greatly speed up their work
  • Match settlers to their jobs based on their special skills
  • Always ensure you have more guards than you think you need – sometimes waves of monsters may attack from different sides
  • Build homes to house your settlers – they are less vulnerable to attacking beasts than if they sleep by the bonfire
  • You need a trading dock to be able to send your ships on expeditions

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

Top 5+ PC Games You Can Play on Your Phone

With second lockdowns already happening and more on the horizon we’re going to need some pretty solid games to get through this. Not all of us have the convenience of a gaming PC at home or even a console – sometimes we just have to settle for our trusty smartphones. But don’t think that just because you’ve got a smartphone you can’t get a proper gaming experience as you would on a console or even PC.

This is a list of 5 games (with some honourable mentions) that have a PC or console counterpart and that will keep you playing for hours. Some are paid, some are free, some have free modes.

RollerCoaster Tycoon

RollerCoaster Tycoon is an all time classic PC game and while the original is over 20 years old, the gameplay and graphics are truly timeless. This mobile port combines the best of RCT1 and 2 into tens of scenarios that will keep you playing for hours. It will set you back £5.99, but it’s definitely worth it.

Check out my full review:

Stardew Valley

Stardew Valley is an incredible RPG and life/farm simulator game that will give you many many hours of entertainment. Again this is a paid title, but for £7.99 it’s absolutely worth it and will provide you with countless hours of gameplay. The game is also often on sale so definitely worth the purchase if you see it reduced.

Check out my full review:

Genshin Impact

Genshin Impact is a recent free to play open-world RPG game available on various platforms and even includes PC/mobile cross-saving. The game is quickly becoming a new household name in the world of gaming as it offers an immense and beautiful open world – for free. New content is constantly being added to it and there are big plans for it in the future.

Check out my full review:

Mini Metro

A minimalist game for the more casual player – mini metro will challenge you to create the most efficient metro system in cities across the globe (perfect for a time when we can’t travel). The game is available for £0.99 for Android and a touch more for iOS, but definitely worth a play as it has regular daily challenges and the occasional new map released.

Check out my full review:

Exiled Kingdoms

This RPG will keep you playing for hours on end. There is a free but limited version that will still offer you about 30hours of gameplay, but I recommend upgrading to the full version for only £3.99 as it will give you a lot of convenient bonuses, new classes and even more game play.

Check out my full review:

Honourable Mentions:

These are some well known games that are worth checking out, again a mix of free, freemium and paid:

  • Game Dev Tycoon – a paid tycoon game, all about running your own game dev studio. Check out my review: https://random-games.com/2020/07/18/game-dev-tycoon/
  • Mindustry – a free sandbox, factory-like tower defense game: https://mindustrygame.github.io/
  • Auto Chess – while I would regard Auto Chess as more of a genre than a specific game this is a good choice for those who enjoy PvP and some strategy – there’s Dota Underlords, Auto Chess or Teamfight Tactics. All options are free to play. Game length can sometimes take a while and being an online PvP game you can’t really pause.
  • Don’t Starve: Pocket Edition – one of the most challenging and relentless survival games is available on mobile for £3.99, however there’s some criticism in terms of bugs and game controls. It’s available for both iOS and Android.
  • Hearthstone – not sure if this one needs any introduction, Blizzard’s iconic card game. A freemium game which sadly over the years has become a bit of a pay to win and is difficult to get back into after a break.
  • Gwent – If you’ve played Witcher you will know all about Gwent – a bit of a half-way house between Hearthstone and Magic the Gathering. Available on Android/iOS: https://www.playgwent.com/en/play-mobile

ISLANDERS

The Game

ISLANDERS by GrizzlyGames is a beautiful city builder for PC. It’s minimalist in its approach to the whole city building genre but the options and combinations will challenge you to think about layout and efficiency.

The game starts you off on an empty island and begins by giving you a choice of 2 building types. The one you choose will give you a collection of buildings, in the late game collections include some of your previous choices. You’re then tasked with laying those buildings out in a way to accumulate points based on their position in the world and their surroundings – some buildings boost each other while others can incur a penalty from being near others. Collect enough points and you level up and be given another choice if two building types. As you progress you’ll get new building types, eventually you’ll run our of space and you can pack it all up and move on to a new island to start all over.

The game is done in a beautiful low poly style and along with the chilled out music it’s a perfect relaxing experience. The game is easy to play and sucks you in as you keep plopping down buildings and before you know it you’ve spent a few hours creating the perfect island settlements and hopping from island to island.

Worth it?

The game is available on Steam for £4.79 and it’s even on sale occasionally. The game is worth it. While it’s not necessarily something you’ll be racking up hundreds of hours on it still offers and amazing escape for a few hours as you’re engulfed into creating the perfect island society. It would be amazing to see this game on mobile and with the fairly simple gameplay it feels like it would work amazingly (provided the game doesn’t get bogged down with gatchas, rather just a free and an add free paid version).

Overall it’s a very relaxing and aesthetically pleasing experience. Trying out different building options and combinations gives the game a decent amount of replay value especially as you get to the late game buildings – you keep wanting to have designed your island a bit better so you can now accommodate all these buildings – nothing to do but start over if that’s the case. It makes for great casual or even medium length play and is a must for any city builder fans.

Tips

  • You don’t need to use all your buildings before getting new ones and vice versa – you can use all your buildings before getting new ones
  • Some buildings benefit from houses, others from mansions, some from both – plan your city and neighbourhood layout accordingly.
  • Sometimes the order in which you place things will allow you to maximise points gained – for example if you place a lumberjack who gains from surrounding trees first, then build something that replaces the trees.

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