What We’re Playing Wednesdays

Summer is right around the corner, but you wouldn’t know it to look outside. We here at Average Joe Games usually spend June working on our beach bods or blasting Don Henley as we drive around in an open convertible but due to adverse weather conditions, we’ve been stuck inside instead. Here’s what we’ve been playing this week.

Joe – Editor & Lead Writer

V Rising what we're playing

V Rising

  • Playing on PC

This week, I’m jumping aboard the hype train that is V Rising; an open-world survival crafting game with vampires. Released on 17th May in early access, V Rising has already sold a whopping 1.5 million copies in a few short weeks. Having played over 20 hours myself, it’s easy to see why.

When you arrive in Farbane Woods (the game’s starting area), you’re given a series of simple quests to establish a small fortress to call your own. Like other crafting games, you harvest local resources such as lumber and stone to build basic tools. You then use your improved tools to harvest higher tier materials to then upgrade your tools further and begin building wooden palisade walls for your fortress.

This might sound pretty dull to some, but V Rising has its crafting loop down to a fine art. Finishing your basic fort is hugely satisfying, until you unlock the ability to craft stone castle walls. You’ll then build machines to refine rock into bricks and set about upgrading your base. Each time you finish an upgrade, V Rising gives you that sweet, brief dopamine hit while dangling the next upgrade right in front of your face. It’s an addictive loop that drives a lot of the early game.

But it’s not all bricks and mortar; V Rising has over 30 bosses for you to hunt down and defeat. Doing so will unlock a new crafting recipe, machine or upgrade which is vital to your progression. Combat is a mix of ranged spells and melee attacks, all perfectly serviceable and made all the more fun by teaming up with other players (if you choose a PvE server).

If you venture out in the daytime, you’ll have to weave in and out of shade to avoid exposure to the sun. It takes only a few seconds before you start taking massive damage so it pays to plan your fights strategically, and preferably by moonlight. Of course, there are potions and items that can lessen the Sun’s effect, but you’ll need to seek out new crafting recipes by battling new opponents to find them. This is why V Rising is so good. It’s a perfect balance of crafting and survival, and I’m here for it.

Tom – Lead Writer

It Takes Two what we're playing

It Takes Two

  • Playing on PS5

My partner and I tied the knot last week, and wanted to find a game to play together during our time off. I’m a far bigger gamer than (extremely Borat’s voice) my wife, but we’ve previously had a blast playing casual games like Lego Harry Potter together. We’ve even found fun in passing the controller between us as we work together to solve puzzle games like Return of the Obra Dinn or The Forgotten City.

We landed on It Takes Two, the surprising co-op hit of 2021. You play as Cody and May, an unhappily married couple barrelling towards divorce. A fun story for newlyweds to enjoy, then! Their daughter Rose refuses to accept this new status quo, and her tears falling upon a relationship self-help book create a magical spell (?) that traps Cody and May inside two of her favourite toys. Their quest: to find their way back to their human bodies, and maybe, just maybe, rekindle their love for one another along the way.

The game is gorgeous to look at, and plays with scale in amusing, Toy Story-esque fashion. The pint-sized Cody and May’s new world is filled with anthropomorphised tools and militant squirrels, and every typical household appliance is a potential friend or foe. Don’t let the cutesy aesthetic of It Takes Two fool you, though. There’s a dark edge of menace to the game; one moment you’ll be meeting your old broken vacuum cleaner, who holds a grudge against May for replacing him with a newer model, and the next you’ll be using his own pipes to suck out his eyeballs during a boss fight.

Each new level introduces a different gimmick with which to approach the world; Cody and May are each granted a different ability and must work together to overcome obstacles. Playing as Cody in one level, I was given a spray gun which which to squirt sap over villainous wasps. Playing as May, my wife had a cannon that blew the sap up and damaged our enemies. You can’t swap abilities, so my wife had to very quickly learn how to play a full on third-person shooter, with all the precision and accuracy that entails.

Platforming and navigating around the world is easy enough but the combat difficulty means that this isn’t a totally casual, pick-up-and-play experience; you probably do need a solid grounding in games to enjoy this. Still, some frustrations aside, my wife and I are having a great time with It Takes Two, and I’m sure we’ll enjoy making things go right for a while longer.