We’re full of chocolate and sluggishly making our way back to our desks this week after the Easter public holidays here in the UK. But somewhere between gorging on mini eggs and drinking wine like its going out of fashion, we found time for a couple of games. Here’s what we’re playing this week:
Joe – Editor
- Playing on PC
As I get older, I find myself increasingly attracted to order. Far from the halcyon days of thriving in a tinny-strewn student flat, happiness is now a well-plumped cushion. Perhaps this is why I can’t stop playing Ixion, a city-builder/survival management sim where everything is in its right place.
Set aboard a revolving space station, players are tasked with keeping the last survivors of Earth alive while exploring the universe for a new planet to call home. Beginning with just one sector of the station, you’ll construct the basics such as housing blocks, an infirmary and a mess hall to keep your people warm, fed and safe. Next, a docking bay is crucial in order to send probes out into the galaxy to find vital resources, such as iron, which your cargo ship brings back to be smelted into alloys to help build new constructions and repair the station’s hull.
Resource management is important then, but so to is your population. Aside from making sure they have the basics, you need to prioritise safety by having enough trained workers to carry out specific tasks. If a sector becomes overworked, for example, industrial accidents are more likely to occur, which in turn, drains the people’s trust in your leadership, leading to labour strikes and even mutiny.
Adding to the complexity is the limited space each sector has for building. An hour or so in and I’m already demolishing an entire sector to completely redesign it on a block-based system for increased efficiency. If, like me, you’re a sicko who enjoys organising things, you’ll find the gains to be made in properly planning each sector quite compelling.
But the most surprising aspect of Ixion is the way that it blends solid sci-fi storytelling with straight-up management sim gameplay. Playing out on a galaxy map not too dissimilar to Stellaris, players can send out their science ships to event markers (quests) and spend several cycles (turns) investigating the wreck of a United Nations ship, for example. As you make your way through the various galaxies and solar systems, these events piece together a gripping tale of humanity’s survival against the odds, making your mission aboard the space station all the more rewarding
Tom – Lead Writer
Metroid Prime Remastered
- Playing on Nintendo Switch
Metroidvania games are one of my most beloved genres; The Messenger, Hollow Knight and Ori are among some of my favourites. Despite my love for these games, though, I have an embarrassing confession. I’ve never played an actual Metroid or Castlevania game; at least, not for more than a few minutes. But all that has changed this week with Metroid Prime Remastered.
In short, Metroid Prime offers everything I love about the Metroidvania genre. Not surprising considering that this is one of the franchises that invented it! The first-person shooting is snappy and responsive, and requires quick thinking to select the right weapon to attack each particular enemy type. The focus isn’t so much on the combat, though, as it is on exploration. The planet of Tallon IV offers a lot of variety in its environments: from desert ruins to lush forests to industrial factories to lava-filled caverns, it feels like new discoveries are always just around the corner.
My favourite element of Metroidvania games is using earned upgrades to open up new pathways in old areas, and Metroid Prime delivers in spades. The game maintains a steady stream of new weapons and abilities to add to your arsenal, helping to make sense of curiosities you may have noticed before. A more powerful bomb might let you clear rubble blocking a tunnel, or a new double jump might let you scale a previously unreachable platform. Each time you unlock one of these hidden areas or paths, you’re rewarded with a sound effect that represents a lightbulb ‘Ah ha!’ moment better than almost any game I’ve ever played. It’s incredibly satisfying to fill in gaps on your world map and find all the secret nooks and crannies.
The orignal’s graphics have been zhuzhed up, with remade text. You’re not going to mistake Metroid Prime for a PS5 game or anything, but to my eyes it sits comfortably among the best looking games on Switch. £35 is a little steep for a facelifted GameCube title but as someone who never played the original version, I don’t regret plonking down the cash one bit. If you’ve never played Metroid Prime, or if it’s been 20 years since you have, I really think you should check Metroid Prime Remastered out.
As a side note, I finally treated myself to a Switch Pro controller after 6 years of Switch ownership. I mainly had it in mind for long Tears of the Kingdom sessions, but as it turns out, it makes shooters like Metroid Prime a much more comfortable experience too. The new controller hasn’t quite unlocked the hidden Mario Kart skills within me that I hoped it would (my wife still wipes the floor with me), but I’m very happy with my purchase either way.