What We’re Playing Wednesdays

This week, Tommy goes to Hollywood in the new Horizon Forbidden West expansion, while I explore some dungeons as a tiny, adventuring mouse. Here’s what we’re playing this week:

Joe – Editor

Horizon Forbidden West

Backpack Hero

  • Playing on PC via Steam

A few weeks ago, I rambled on about how much I love organising things. Imagine my joy, then, when I came across Backpack Hero, a cute lil inventory management roguelike that started life as a free browser game over on itch.io 

Now in Early Access on Steam after a whirlwind Kickstarter campaign, developer, Jaspel, is constantly adding new features to Backpack Hero, but the original web version remains free to anyone that fancies a play. And play you must, because this is the most addictive fun I’ve had organising stuff since the time I defrosted the chest freezer in my uni halls at 4am after accidentally consuming an edible. 

The conceit is charmingly simple: you’re a lil adventurer mouse that navigates a series of dungeons, battles enemies and places loot in your titular stash. You can expect the usual armour, power-ups and potions as well as turn-based combat reminiscent of Slay the Spire, in that your opponent’s next move is signalled to you before you make your move. 

But Backpack Hero puts a twist on the standard deck-building roguelike by placing importance on not just the items you carry, but how you carry them. When you enter the first dungeon, for example, your backpack consists of 9 empty tiles that you fill with a bulky shield, sword and a healing item. Defeating enemies earns you experience points which, upon levelling up, you can spend on increasing your backpack size by several tiles at a time. 

At first, it seems like the only benefit to this is that you can hold more goodies in your sack. But as you come across loot like the sturdy boots – a piece of armour that gives you +1 block for every tile above it – you soon release the importance of where you place your goods. There’s an agonising joy, for example, when I pick up a magical bottle that grants all of my weapons +6 damage, but none of those said weapons can be touching a piece of armour. Even more brutal is an artefact I come across at a merchant store that adds a huge boost to bonus damage, but can’t be used if I have any armour in my backpack.

It’s clear, then, that Backpack Hero has a wealth of different builds and play styles on offer; the perfect excuse for just one more run.

Tom – Lead Writer

Horizon Forbidden West

Horizon Forbidden West: Burning Shores

  • Playing on PlayStation 5

I’ve not had much gaming time recently, but what little time I’ve had I’ve been spending with Burning Shores. This is the new DLC expansion for Horizon Forbidden West, which sees Aloy travel to the ruins of Los Angeles in pursuit of an Elon Musk stand-in villain.

I’m not super far into Burning Shores, but so far it reflects the best of what I like about this series. Horizon’s ‘scan the enemy and shoot the glowing parts’ combat loop might be simple, but I still love facing off against robot dinos. The environments and character animations are as gorgeous as in any game I’ve seen. And of course, it’s both pleasurable and deeply sad to witness one of the late great Lance Reddick’s final performances.

I’ve genuinely looked back fondly on Forbidden West, despite what I wrote about it in February. I’ve read that back and it seems that I was, uh, going through some stuff at the time. My opinion hasn’t necessarily changed since then, although I might express it a little less dramatically. Forbidden West is indeed an overstuffed and bloated experience, but at its core is a really good RPG. For someone like me looking for a smaller chunk of Horizon
 is doing the trick nicely. But I’m only in hour 3 right now; ask me again at hour 15!