Jotun: Valhalla Edition

The Game

Jotun: Valhalla Edition made by Thunder Lots Games is an amazingly aesthetic game based on Norse mythology. Battle your way past gods and figure out weird puzzles on your way through the afterlife. You play as Thora – a recently deceased human wielding a massive two-handed axe. This is quite a challenging game which will have you in potential fits of anger as you face up against some of the later bosses. Each big boss (known as Jotun) fight is preceded by a couple of relatively peaceful missions to find some runes, often accompanied by a puzzle of sorts. Often you will also find special shrines that give you some interesting skills ranging from healing and shields to decoys and even the blessing of Thor’s hammer.

Once you have collected the appropriate runes you face off against a boss, and boy do these bosses pack a punch. The sense of scale is something the game plays with really successfully by pitting you – a tiny human against some truly gigantic deities. Each Jotun will have various phases, attack patterns and timings that you will need to learn and master in order to get past them. These fights can be very frustrating and you will suffer a quick death if you make too many mistakes. The process of figuring these bosses out and beating them is extremely satisfying.

Worth it?

Generally the game will set you back around £12 depending on platform, but is very often on sale up to 75%, allowing you to pick it up for less than £5. At that price it’s a must have. The game is an acquired taste in terms of difficulty, but an audio-visual masterpiece. The narration, soundtrack and artwork are something truly special and a testament to indie game development. If you see this game on sale make sure to pick it up. Overall it’s definitely worth the purchase and while the gameplay itself won’t last you more than around 5-6 hours, the world is so beautiful and the gameplay is extremely satisfying (and also challenging), making it an absolute must have.

Tips

  • Keep on the look out for Ithunn’s Apples – these will upgrade your health bar
  • The shrines of Mimir will replenish your skills and health, but they can only do so once
  • Take time to study a boss’ movement patterns and attacks
  • Heavy attacks will often do different things than basic attacks – experiment with this
  • Look for openings between legs arms or other bits where you can avoid being hit

Useful Links

City Skylines: Airports

The Game

City Skylines: Airports is the 10th expansion pack for City Skylines published by Paradox Interactive. In this review I will just be discussing the DLC in isolation. Similarly to some of the previous DLCs released (Campus, Industries, Parklife) the game focuses on zoning new areas and levelling them up over time. As the name suggests this DLC focuses on airports. You get to zone out an airport area, which conveniently flattens the ground in the area (longer term City Skylines players will know the pain of flattening land to fit in an airport). Once an area has been dedicated for the airport you can choose from some basic airport components in 3 different styles. Using these modular components you build up the airport, adding terminals, runways, taxi roads, stands, parked airplanes, cargo planes and even hotels. There is a really nice range of cosmetic items to add and even some new public transport links that can go straight into your terminals – subway, train and busses – all with some new unique skins for the vehicles. Your airports will level up as more people use them and you will even be able to create your own airline charging extortionate prices.

Worth it?

The DLC will set you back around £10 on consoles with CD keys being available for PC around £5. You will get 3 new maps and the addition of the airport zones with loads of customisation options and new public transport skins. The game also comes with a handful of new achievements, which are pretty easy to complete.

Overall for £10 I cannot say this DLC is worth it. While the customisation options are nice and you can get some really cool looking airports, the money really just isn’t worth it. I opened up a fairly late game city, set up a couple airports and got all achievements in about 5 minutes of playing. Within 30 minutes I had the highest level airport. Aesthetically speaking the DLC does add a nice amount, but in terms of depth and playability there really isn’t much there to keep you in long term. Comparing to the other similar DLCs like Parklife and the Industries this one is quite lacking and a little bit disappointing. If on sale it does become a little bit more sensible so do look out for it on sale or pick up some discounted CD keys.

Tips

  • Metro station and Train station link directly to concourses
  • You only really need 1 runway per airport
  • Make sure your airplane taxi routes link up correctly in the one way system

Useful Links

Minecraft (Bedrock Edition) – Coming Back to Minecraft After 10+ years

The Game

Minecraft a game developed by Mojang needs little to no introduction. The game started in Alpha in 2010 and was officially released in 2011. There are technically two independent versions – Bedrock and Java edition, where Bedrock is the version available on all consoles, mobile and windows 10. Over the years the game has continuously been developed and grown far beyond what it was in those very early days. It still carries on growing even today with the recent 1.18 Caves and Cliffs update and the upcoming 1.19 Wild update.

If you haven’t played for as long as I have you really are in for a treat. The world generation, biomes, creatures, NPCs, crafting and literally every single element of the game has had some sort of addition or expansion over the years. There are new animals like pandas, bees, axolotls, alpacas and more. The Nether has been completely overhauled with new nether biomes and structures like bastions, there is more to the End than just the dragon – end cities allow for late game dungeons and loot to be obtained. Oceans have changed massively, sunken ships, buried treasures, corals, sea turtles, ruins, ocean monuments and elder guardians and many other additions have made the oceans of Minecraft a lot more interesting and worth exploring as much as any overworld biome. There are now various types of mountain, taiga forests, ice biomes. There are new types of caves and the world goes deeper than ever before.

Villagers were only just introduced when I last played Minecraft all those years ago and while initially they didn’t have much purpose, they are now an integral part to surviving. There are a variety of villages depending on the biome they spawn in, various villager professions, each with its own set of trades. Trading with villagers will level them up, unlocking new trade options – sometimes even allowing you trade for incredibly rare items. The villagers now also have enemies in the world, their evil counterparts – the illagers. These can spawn on patrol in the world, in woodland mansions, at pillager outposts or during raids. There are various types of illagers each with their own skills, weapons and abilities. There is also a sequence of events whereby killing an illager captain (gaining the Bad Omen status) and then walking into a village will trigger a raid by consecutives waves of illagers. Defeat the raid and you might get an amazing drop – the Totem of Undying (hold in your hand when you die to instantly respawn).

Worth it?

Generally speaking whichever version you may choose you will likely be spending anywhere from £10 to £20 for the game. There are various CD Key outlets offering lower prices too. What’s most important is to define that any platform other than desktop will be the Bedrock Edition of Minecraft. On PC you will have a choice between the original Java edition and Bedrock Edition. While the majority of the core game mechanics are the same between games, there are some very key differences in terms of mob spawning and various other niche elements that could potentially make all those tutorials for farms you are watching irrelevant to your version. The other very notable difference between the two is that on Java you will have access to endless free mods, texture packs and other community content. On Bedrock you will need to purchase Minecoins in order to buy the same types of things.

While on the one hand the store in Bedrock is a nice chance for content creators to get recognised and make money from their work it also takes away from so much that Minecraft originally was and feels like a bit of a cold attempt at squeezing more money out of the player. On consoles you cannot play split-screen unless the other player also has a purchased version/account on Minecraft – making local/offline couch co-op not an option, which was actually a major disappointment and feels like a bit of slap in the face. Changes are also being made to bring Java edition more in line with this, under the guise of improving player safety.

Overall it’s very difficult to fault Minecraft as a game – it really has withstood the test of time and coming back to it after being away for so long is like rediscovering something you loved as a kid which has kept growing and changing over all these years. The game has proven itself in terms of depth and potential and the continuous work on it means there’s always something to look forward to. If you want to lose potentially thousands of hours building and surviving in your very own Minecraft world, or last played it more than 5 years ago – then by all means give it a go.

Tips

  • Make a shield and equip it as soon as you have access to iron
  • Donkeys can be equipped with chests to help carry more
  • Animals can be leashed to fence posts
  • Scutes dropped from baby turtles can help make a helmet that will help you spend more time underwater
  • Mobs cannot spawn on bottom half slab blocks (or other non-whole blocks like rails, string, carpets)
  • Traveling 1 block in the Nether is equivalent to travelling 8 in the above world
  • Enable coordinates on Bedrock – make note/screenshots of coordinates you want to come back to
  • Keep a water bucket on you, it can be useful to go up/down into ravines or to put yourself out if you’re on fire
  • Mending is a great enchantment for your high-level gear – it will repair your equipment with exp
  • Automate things using redstone contraptions
  • You can reset villager trades by removing their work station and replacing it – once you have made a trade with a villager that will lock their trades in even if the work station is moved
  • Check a seed map to find out where various things in your world are located

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

Punch Club

The Game

Punch Club developed by Lazy Bear Studios and published by tinyBuild is a pixel graphics fighting simulation game. With elements reminiscent of Sims and loads of references to cult classic films there’s quite a bit to unpack with this game. The game has a fairly simple and straightforward gameplay loop consisting of training to level up your stats, working to earn cash and fighting your way to becoming champion of the world (technically you watch your character fight).

Every day you will have to balance exercise, work and other tasks to progress, at the end of every day you will lose a significant chunk of your stats. There are three main attributes that you can develop – strength (red), agility (blue) and stamina (green). Different gym equipment will level you up at different speeds, exercise too long on one piece of equipment and you’ll start earning less points, so make sure to change up your routine as soon as that happens. Your stats tie in to your fighting abilities and skills. After each fight you will learn skill points which can be spent learning new skills, moves or perks. As if all of that wasn’t enough you also have to ensure you’ve got enough food, energy and happiness each day. In the early game finding the balance between working to earn money and training is particularly difficult, so you’ll probably be stuffing yourself with frozen pizzas for quite some time.

The story focuses on a character who dreams of becoming a great fighter and avenging his father’s death. As you become a better fighter more elements to the story will unfold, as well as some side-stories, which actually get pretty weird after a while. The game world is packed with references to movies like Fight Club, Rocky, The Simpsons, John Wick and even Jay and Silent Bob (if you look outside the store) and some truly beautiful pixel art.

Worth it?

This isn’t an easy game. Especially the early game can be particularly hard as you balance working, training and fighting. Once you start to unlock better jobs, some home equipment and more skills things begin to get a bit easier and the game starts to click. The mid-game (from Din Kong) onwards begins to get a bit easier, however it is also worth noting that this is an extremely grindy game. While losing some stats every day makes sense and is an established mechanic it also makes the game really hard and you will be spending an extremely long time levelling up your stats (especially for the final fights). While it is quite punishing, it also makes for a good challenge. Some story lines will also present you with choices which will affect them, potentially making completion for those story lines unachievable.

You can get the game for around £1.50 on sale, which is absolutely worth it. The game provides a good challenge, is wonderfully aesthetic, has an interesting story and loads of film references to keep you going. It will take you quite a few hours to complete your first playthrough and you may be tempted to do a second one after (maybe even a speedrun). The sound track can get a bit repetitive after hours of grinding and the game itself can get a bit repetitive and grindy towards the end, but other than that it is quite difficult to fault it. If you see the game on sale, grab it.

Tips

  • In the early game meat is the most effective cost per food item, however pizza is better at recovering your health
  • Making money is only difficult in the early game – focus on getting your own equipment at home so as to avoid the daily cost of the gym
  • The skip attack skills is very useful if you are draining your energy very quickly
  • Adapt your strategy from round to round – try out different moves, counters and defensive moves
  • Fights will teleport you directly to the location so you can save yourself the walking
  • Keep skills just above a level if the day is about to tick over, so you can easily get it back up again at the start of the new day
  • Focus on unlocking the extra skill slots early in the skill tree
  • Look ahead at what gets you where in the skill tree, plan ahead
  • Once you are living with Din Kong focus on upgrading daily allowance asap, money will also become a trivial concern pretty quickly then
  • You can collect the prize from Mickey in the trailer park twice
  • Skill unlock cost caps at 25
  • The flower locations for Adrian are: Roy’s garden, the Warehouse, the Bar, Mick’s office and your house
  • Check out the wiki for more tips/tricks

Useful Links

The Survivalists

The Game

The Survivalists is a pixel-graphics survival game by Team17. You are stranded on a deserted (or is it?) island in the middle of the ocean with nothing but the clothes on your back and the wreckage of your raft. It’s up to you to build up your base and arsenal of tools and weapons and eventually make your way to other islands and even back home. The game shares a lot of similarities with other popular survival games (like Don’t Starve), but is also quite forgiving and can be quite chill at times (rather than the hectic panic that other such games induce). There are regular attacks by the goblin natives of the islands – you will always be warned the evening before these occur and you’ll have a good amount of time to prepare yourself for the impending attack.

Where The Survivalists really comes into its own is it’s unique monkey buddy system. While exploring the islands you will run into monkeys who will need your help – sometimes they’ll be capture in a cage that needs breaking, other times they will need a specific item. Once you’ve helped them they will join you on your adventures and quite literally follow all of your orders. The monkeys allow you to automate production, construction, resource harvesting, combat, etc. as you can teach each monkey to perform one of the roles described above. This is quite a unique mechanic and makes for some pretty interesting scenarios, especially as you amass a bigger and bigger following of monkeys.

The game also features vaults and labyrinths, which are basically dungeons with cool loot and secrets to be uncovered. These are scattered throughout the world and up to you to find on your adventures. The labyrinths will require special keys to be purchased from the Mysterious Stranger. There are a few other NPCs and some quests that will keep you busy when you get bored of building up your base and gathering resources. If that’s not enough for you, you can also play cooperatively with your friends online (sadly no couch co-op options available).

Worth it?

The game has all the classic survival game mechanics you’d ever want and the monkeys give the game something truly unique. I would even argue that they make the game what it is – they take away the tediousness of crafting and resource gathering and allow you to focus on the bigger picture problems like layout out your base, exploring or even just watching them to all the hard work while you take a nap. The game will generally set you back around £20 but is often on sale for around £10 (you really can’t say no to that). I played the PS4 version and have very little to fault it on there.

Overall it’s a very enjoyable game with a great amount of depth to it – it can be quite chill at times, at other moments you may be fighting for your life. As with all such games, things to tend to get a bit repetitive after a while and the loop of finding better materials for better tools to get better materials starts to become a bit tedious – that would be my only major criticism. Other than that the game has some truly unique elements to it and will keep you busy for hours on end. It also has that addictive moment where you just keep thinking to yourself: “one more day, one more job” and then you find you’ve actually played a few hours longer than expected.

Tips

  • Only go up 1 difficulty when moving to a new island, otherwise you won’t be able to gather resource and will probably get killed.
  • Gather as many monkeys as you can.
  • Setting monkeys to follow you and giving them weapons will allow them to fight alongside you.
  • Vaults aren’t too difficult, especially on the first island – they often contain monkeys as well.
  • You can give a chest to a monkey to carry as a way to have more storage space when out in the world.
  • Try to get to the 3rd difficulty island asap as you will find the materials for portals there – this will help you massively with navigating the world.
  • Find the Mysterious Stranger to buy the Mysterious Chest (36 slots) for 500 Doubloons – this will help you massively when adventuring.
  • Complete 3 quests for the Beastmaster to unlock the first backpack upgrade to be purchased from the Mysterious Stranger – these will then appear on the 2nd page of the crafting menu.

Useful Links

Civilization VI (Rise and Fall, Gathering Storm) – PC & Console Versions

The Game

There’s no way you haven’t heard of Sid Meier’s Civilization series (developed by Firaxis Games and published by 2K Games). Civilization VI is the latest in the famous series and while the base game came out a few years ago, the developers have been rolling out a series of DLC and updates. They have also published the game on basically every console. I played both the PS4 version and the PC so I’ll cover some of the good and bad of both. Civilization V is one of my all time favourite games (I had over 1000hrs) so I had high hopes for this sequel, but I held off buying it until it came out at a more accessible price.

If you’ve never played Civ before then you have been missing out (and probably living under a rock). It’s a turn based 4x strategy game that takes you and your civilization through history and the ages. There are several ways you can win the game – domination, culture, science, religion, score (or in Gathering Storm – diplomatic). You play on a hex grid map and build up your cities and armies and take on rival civilizations, or build alliances and friendships if you prefer a diplomacy heavy game. You decide whether you want to be a peaceful and fun loving leader or a warmongering dictator that drops nukes those who oppose them. If you’re coming from Civ V some of the most notable additions are districts (specialised neighbourhoods) and a civics tech tree. It’s not until the expansion packs and DLCs where the game really starts to feel like something innovative and new, like the addition of Governors and Loyalty.

The game offers tons of civilizations to play as and each DLC adds more, there are also a variety of maps and game modes to chose from. This in itself will give you much to experiment with and keep you busy for hours on end. The base game in itself feels a bit limited, it’s not until Gathering Storm that the developers really made it something special and moved it on from Civilization V. Rise and Storm adds mechanics such as Dark and Golden Ages, loyalty and governors, while Gathering Storm builds and expands on that by adding climate change, disasters, electricity and a new victory mode. Each DLC also gives a bunch of World Wonders, new Civs, units and buildings.

Worth it?

On its own the base game really isn’t all that much – you’re better off playing Civilization V and all its DLC instead. You can get the Civ 6 base game (on sale) for around £8.50, and each of the main DLCs will set you back around £10, with some civ packs for around £5. The console versions will set you back a little bit more, but try and get them on sale if you can. When it comes to deciding the platform, the obvious benefit of PC (apart from cheap CD keys) is also mods – the Civ modding community is great and there are some really great ones out there – from UI improvements to entire civilizations, units and modes. On the other hand, the console version will let you play from the comfort of your sofa, a potentially very dangerous combination as you probably won’t leave that sofa all weekend.

It’s got to be said that the DLC method does feel like a bit of a rip off, there’s a lot of additional content which can amount to quite a serious sum. The base game on its own is quite basic, especially when you learn about all the great additions in each of the mods. The main one worth getting is Gathering Storm as it includes much of what’s in Rise & Fall, although you can often find the two on sale together. The console version I played (PS4) had some issues worth noting – there are issues with the UI, various highlights and selections are hard to see, issues with scrolling in certain menus, some of the functionality available on PC isn’t available and of course, no mods.

Another couple of the DLCs worth picking up as they add a good deal of new content (secret societies game mode and a civ) are the Ethiopia pack and the Babylon pack (heroes and legends game mode and a civ) – each of those will set you back about £3.99. With all the DLC and various packs you will have so much content to play that you will definitely get your money’s worth – there are potentially hundreds of hours of gameplay there.

Overall Civilization VI didn’t start out as the strongest game on its own, but through a few years of updates, DLCs, new modes and civs it has become a truly epic game that will keep you locked in for hours, thinking “just one more turn”. The console versions aren’t the greatest, but strategies on consoles have always been a bit of an odd combo and considering that – it does do an ok job. Aim to get as much of the DLC as possible (ideally on sale) and you will have yourself something to keep you busy for a very very very long time.

Tips

  • Enable the ribbon UI option so you can keep track of your opponents’ yields
  • Enable the yields UI option to get an accurate idea of the individual tile yields
  • Don’t accept demands from the AI
  • Selling diplomatic favour can help if you’ve got cashflow problems
  • Think about the positions of various districts and yields when placing cities
  • Placing a city on a luxury resource will still give you that resource
  • On harder difficulty there’s less point in getting a religion
  • Domination victory is generally easiest
  • Science matters – regardless what victory you are going for
  • Gold can solve a lot of your problems too
  • Use the “Join Ongoing War” option to help get other AIs involved if you feel you need support (and distractions for the AI) – sometimes they will willingly accept for 1 gold, other times a spare copy of a luxury is enough to convince them
  • Settling on fresh water gives you more housing, coastal cities start with less, which is why granaries and harbours with lighthouses are important
  • Read the wikis and learn as much as you can about your civilization’s bonuses, but don’t force them into your game if it’s not right
  • For tips for playing on Deity or general tips check out PotatoMcWhiskey on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/c/PotatoMcWhiskey

Useful Links

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%

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