What We’re Playing Wednesdays

Brrrrrrrr. Anyone else think it’s starting to get a little nippy? As the days get shorter and the autumn chill sets in, it’s a perfect time to wrap up warm and bask in the glow of the TV. Here’s what we’ve been playing this week.

Tom – Lead Writer

The Messenger

  • Playing on PS5 via backwards compatibility

The Messenger first came out in 2018, and I distinctly remember saying to myself, ‘That looks cool! I’ll get to it soon.’ Ah, the folly of youth. Now it’s 2022. My hairline is slowly but surely retreating. My BMI is doing the opposite. And I’ve only just gotten around to playing The Messenger. It’s a good thing it was worth the wait!

The Messenger is a loving throwback to 8-bit side-scrolling platformers like Ninja Garden. You accumulate a decent variety of abilities, like gliding and double jumping, and you need to use them all with precision to make it through the game’s platforming sequences alive. Combat, meanwhile, is deceptively simple. Enemies are simplistic in their attacks but make one or two wrong moves and you’ll quickly die. And you will die, many times.

Through it all, The Messenger has a winning, metatextual sense of humour. You play as a young ninja on a quest to save the world; developer Sabotage Studio knows you’ve seen a thousand versions of this story and plays with those narrative conventions, mining them for laughs through decently witty dialogue.

There’s a lot more to say about The Messenger, but it’s difficult to fully sing its praises without giving away some of its biggest surprises. Let’s just say that there is more than meets the eye to this game; while you might think you know what kind of game The Messenger is when you start it, it won’t stay that way.

The Messenger is currently available through the PS Plus Extra game catalog, which is how I’ve been playing it. The game catalogue that Extra grants you access to is chock-full of little indie gems like this one, and is seriously worth considering upgrading your subscription for.

Joe – Writer & Lead Editor

Deep Space D6

  • Playing on iPhone 13 Pro

I was going to write about Red Dead Redemption 2 this week, a game that I’m revisiting after bouncing off it the first time around. But what more can I say about this technological masterpiece that hasn’t already been said? Instead, I’m going to the other end of the spectrum and shining a light on a very simple yet engrossing mobile game, Deep Space D6.

Deep Space D6 is a fan-made digital adaption of Tau Leader Games’ solitaire board game of the same name. The premise is simple: you are the captain of a spaceship deep inside enemy territory. To escape almost certain death, you must make the best use of your crew to fend off incoming internal and external threats. At the start of each round, you roll a set of six dice (which represent your crew) and assign them to take on said threats. The red tactical die, for example, can be used to damage an enemy ship, while the pink medical die heals crew members.

But as resources are scarce, the game forces you to prioritise your crew and make tough decisions. For example, you may want to assign your science die to recharge your shield, but the ship comms are also down which requires a scientist to fix. It can be a challenging fight at times but with each round lasting 10 minutes or so, it’s a great bitesize workout for the tactical side of your brain.

Deep Space D6 is available to download for free on iOS/Android. The original board game can be purchased directly from Tau Leader Games’ website.