The most depressing month of the year is finally over, and February is here. Springtime is just around the corner, but until then, here are the games we’ve been playing this week.
Tom – Lead Writer
- Playing on Xbox Series S
My wife and I are big fans of ‘unofficial’ co-op games; games like Return of the Obra Dinn or The Forgotten City. I’ll usually hold the controller, but we’ll work together to make decisions and solve puzzles. We have a great time playing games this way. And as an added bonus, my wife is far smarter than me, which means I get to see the endings of games that I otherwise wouldn’t.
Our latest unofficial co-op game was Pentiment, a tale of murder and intrigue in 16th century Bavaria. You play as fledgling artist Andreas Maler, who is tasked with investigating the grisly killing of a nobleman in the local abbey. Andreas’ friend and mentor appears to be responsible, but it soon becomes clear that a deadly conspiracy is ensnaring the little town of Tassing.
Pentiment‘s pleasures mainly come from the lively characters of Tassing, and finding out what makes them tick. While the game’s premise sets up a detective story, there’s no Poirot moment where you assemble every single piece of evidence. A ticking clock structure limits your opportunities to interrogate characters. My wife and I found that we were often forced to make decisions based on limited information in unenviable circumstances. This is by design; Pentiment‘s story calls into question whether you can ever truly know if your neighbours have your best interests at heart.
Combine all this with a truly unique art style (the game resembles medieval tapestries and paintings), and you’ve got a very unique game. Pentiment likely wouldn’t exist without the safety net of Game Pass, so if you’re a subscriber, you should give it a go. In my mind, this is the kind of experience that my monthly fee is for in the first place.
Sackboy: A Big Adventure
- Playing on PlayStation 5
Pentiment isn’t the only game I’ve been playing with my wife. We’ve also been delving into Sackboy: A Big Adventure, a co-op platformer featuring the star of the LittleBigPlanet series. This is a family friendly game, so it’s pretty simple. You hit colourful enemies, you collect orbs, and you jump between moving platforms. Rinse and repeat.
Look, at the end of the day, this is really a PlayStation-branded clone of 3D Mario games. There’s nothing wrong with that; I like those games, and Sackboy is a pretty good imitation of them! The game really comes into its own during select levels that are set to licensed music. Characters and environments groove and pulsate in time to tracks like Uptown Funk and Jungle Boogie. These levels are a lot of fun and show some real personality, something that is somewhat lacking from the rest of the game.
There are certainly worse ways to spend your gaming time than with Sackboy, but there’s very little unique or novel about it. I’d recommend picking it up on deep discount as I did, or waiting until it inevitably gets added to PlayStation Plus.
Ollie – Social Media Manager
The Last of Us Remastered
- Playing on PlayStation 4
The Last Of Us. I know, I know, I’m always at the bleeding edge of the gaming landscape, always looking out for the next underground hit. Alright so TLOU might have been out a fair while, and yes I probably should’ve played it before, but you know what – who cares? It’s always been on my list of things to play, I absolutely love the post-apocalyptic sub-genre or shows, films, or games – and so when HBO announced they were making a TV show of this much-praised game I knew I needed to play through the game before I watched it. So I left it to the week of release to start… but start I did and I’m so very glad.
This game is as amazing as everyone says – the atmosphere it creates, the delicate-yet-ominous floating particles in the air catching the light, the eerily hollow and sparse guitar soundtrack, they’re all so absorbing. Games like this are hardly anything new, they’ve been around for a fair few years, but what I feel TLOU does so well is the characters and their narrative. You really care; you feel what they feel; you hate them and love them at different times. You’re never more than 20 minutes from a gut-wrenching twist of cruel fate that could befall someone you’ve grown to love – even if this is just in the form of a note you find in a corpse-strewn bedroom.
As far as the gameplay goes, I’ve been playing on easy mode – I have a job and a short attention span, so I don’t want to spend hours dying and trying again (though I still manage to do a fair bit of that). I’m way more interested in being immersed in a captivating story. That said, the gameplay is interesting enough – the combat can feel a little clunky if you’re used to more action-focussed games, but like I say – who really cares, that’s not what I’m here for.
I’m only about half way through but I am gripped – let’s hope all the depressing shit is behind me and it only gets happier from here on in! I’m hopeful.