It’s cold and dark outside, and we’re all feeling the sting of returning to work after the festive break. What better way to shake off those January blues than by getting stuck into some fun video games? Here’s what we’re playing this week.
Tom – Lead Writer
Playing on Oculus Quest 2
My wonderful fiancée bought me an Oculus Quest 2 for my birthday, and while I don’t deserve it or her, I’m enjoying it very much. It’s a very slick system, with a pretty hefty library of games and experiences available already. I’ll be discussing VR games quite a bit in the coming weeks, but for now I want to focus on my immediate favourite: Superhot VR.
If you haven’t played previous Superhot games on PC or console, you should really check them out. They all take place in glitchy, minimalistic environments filled with blocky red enemies trying to kill you. Crucially, time slows to a crawl when you stand still, and only speeds up again when you move or shoot a gun. A lot of time in Superhot is spent planning your next move as enemies and their bullets slowly inch towards you, figuring out the perfect route to survival.
I was already a huge Superhot fan, but playing in VR takes the series to a new level of brilliance. It really feels like a game changer (pardon me) to turn around to find a red guy slashing a knife at you, or to physically throw a shuriken to deflect a bullet. Ducking and weaving to dodge punches and gunshots is exhilarating, almost like a John Wick or Matrix simulator. My Fitbit even registers my time in the game as an aerobic workout; by default, Superhot VR is the most fun I’ve ever had exercising. If you’re planning on picking up a VR headset yourself, this really needs to be one of your first purchases.
Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart
Playing on PS5
I haven’t been so engrossed in my new virtual reality that I’ve not had time to play traditional games; I also spent a lovely few hours over my Christmas break with Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart. I’ve been meaning to play it for months, and ended up finally buying it from the PlayStation store January Sale.
Rift Apart is a cartoony platform action game, taking you on a sci-fi journey across multiple gorgeous planets. The game makes full use of the PS5’s abilities; it’s graphically stunning, and haptic feedback and trigger resistance are used to great immersive effect. Rift Apart is also a showcase for the console’s zippy SSD, with wormholes pulling you into expansive new locations in the blink of an eye.
As with any Ratchet & Clank game, much of the appeal lies in the huge arsenal of zany weapons. My current favourite has to be the Topiary Sprinkler, a small turret that turns enemies into shrubbery and leaves them vulnerable to attack. I’ll post some more thoughts when I finish the game, but suffice it to say, I’m having a great time with it.
Joe – Editor & Lead Writer
Playing on PC
My Christmas break consisted mostly of gorging myself on Brie and playing Loop Hero. One of them gave me strange dreams at night and the other is a mild French cheese.
Now, I’m not saying Loop Hero is a nightmare or anything – far from it – it’s just an impossibly addictive game that will stay on your mind long after playing.
In a nutshell, Loop Hero is a Rougelike RPG set in an endless, randomly generated world. However, rather than having direct control over your hero, you can change and manipulate the world by placing cards drawn from a mystical deck. Some cards will add buffs to your character while others spawn enemies which drop useful loot when defeated. Your aim is to rebuild enough of each loop to trigger a boss fight and progress to the next chapter.
I know I’m a little late to the party with this one, but I’d highly recommend giving Loop Hero a go. Sure, there’s a bit of grind involved and it’s repetitive by nature but there’s something that’ll keep you going back, loop after loop.
Playing on PC
My ol’ reliable MacBook finally packed in just before Christmas (RIP) so I gave myself an early present of a new laptop – Windows this time, so I can, you know, play even more games. Diving headfirst into Microsoft’s Game Pass for PC, I went straight for Sable; an open-world adventure game I’d had my eye on for some time.
So far, I’ve not been disappointed. With a killer soundtrack and gorgeous visuals, Sable let’s you explore the world at your own pace. While there are numerous missions to complete in the form of platforming puzzles and fetch-quests, the game gives you space to simply drift around the sand dunes on your Jetbike and take in the views. The result is a blissed-out, super-chill journey of self-discovery, tinged with the excitement and trepidation that leaving home for the first time brings.
Unfortunately, there are still some issues with framerate drops and pop-in, particularly when moving around on your bike. That being said, there’s something special about drifting through the melancholic world of Sable; I’m looking forward to spending more time there.