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  • Three men in robes, sort of dressed like if the Bestie Boys were wizards, addressing the player in Bomb Rush Cyberpunk

    We're in the midst of an unspeakably good couple of months for game releases, even if you ignore the boring corporate ones that we'll never hear the end of. The downside of such a bounty is there are even more gems getting overlooked than usual, because nobody has the time even when we're aware of them. Like, for example, Bomb Rush Cyberfunk.

    It absolutely is the Jet Set Radio tribute it looks like, and it's a delight even if, like me, you never really liked the originals. Inspired by, rather than tracing over the rail grinding, spraypainting, all-dancing classic. It plays a little smoother, it clocks in shorter, and runs a little faster, but it's undeniably dancing to the same beat.

  • Exploding an enemy settlement in Black Skylands

    Supporters only: Most of you will enjoy Black Skylands more than I do

    We all float up here

    "Everything is floating islands and airships and we're not going to explain how or why" is a setting I nearly always respect, but fighting a campaign against pirates leaves me feeling distinctly uncool. This is the dilemma Black Skylands leaves me with.

    You're a very young officer of... something, battlefield promoted to captaincy of the Fathership, essentially a giant floating base from which you set out on your airship in an open world kinda way to trade broadsides with baddies and land at occupied islands to do the twin stick shooter thing on foot. I… don’t like it as much as I want to.

  • Halsin, the handsome Druid you can romance in Baldur's Gate 3.

    Supporters only: You don't need to like or know about D&D to enjoy Baldur's Gate 3

    I'm rolling dice and sometimes things are nice

    I haven't played Dungeons & Dragons before, and I don't know much about it besides the obvious. I know there's a dungeon master, or DM, who directs proceedings behind a cardboard shield. I know you lob some dice to determine the outcomes of an adventure that's contained in the heads of everyone at the roundtable. And that's about it.

    Baldur's Gate 3 is based on D&D's 5th edition and it's meant to honour its rules to the absolute tee. I'm sure it does! To be honest, though, I haven't exactly learned much about D&D by playing it. I don't even think of myself as playing D&D, instead I'm just playing an RPG whose complexity adds a nice mystery to proceedings.

  • A still from 2D samurai fighting game Sclash, showing the silhouettes of the fighters against an orange background

    Supporters only: Sclash is a short but sweet low-pressure duelling game

    Every day the samurai

    Sclash is gorgeous. That's not the reason I'm writing about it, but it definitely helps. Style can't fix a bad game, but it can elevate a decent one about, say, a little hand-drawn 2D samurai running across the world stabbing dudes for peace. Little Jinmu does a lot of running to the right, a lot of slashing, and probably very little parrying and punching once you figure out the power attack.

    There is, bluntly, not a lot to it, especially while its online mode is still listed as "coming soon". But even with remote multiplayer, I see this as more of a diversion for friends to enjoy than a serious competitive fighter and intentionally so.

    I enjoyed it though. Actually, I think I enjoyed it more for that, though it does perhaps limit its audience.

  • A copy of the book Murdle (volume 1) on my book shelf, next to a Krusty-O and against a variety of other books

    This week I wrote a little post alerting you, my best friends, to the existence of Murdle. This weekend I went to town and bought a copy of the Murdle book - or, I should say, Volume 1, because you can already pre-order Volume 2. It's a chunky enough tome made up of 100 of the puzzles that form Murdle's daily little treat, split into sections of escalating difficulty. And, against my expectations, and despite basically being a vehicle for logic grid puzzles, Murdle has an actual plot. Which is more than many video games manage.

  • The player character in Baldur's Gate 3, a half elf in a leather helmet, pets a white mongrel dog called scratch

    Rangers aren't everyone's favourite Dungeons & Dragons class, especially in the current 5th Edition ruleset, which is the one that smash hit RPG Baldur's Gate 3 is based on. I met another player who likes rolling rangers at a D&D table earlier this week, and I actually high-fived her because I was so excited at my one-woman ranger defense squad doubling its membership. Making your character a ranger in BG3 (which has some very slight differences) is even better; you can essentially brew a rogue that is better at taking damage, but can still do most other things you traditionally use a rogue for. Let me explain.

  • A fictional video game magazine from Videoverse, showing Feudal Fantasy on the cover

    Supporters only: Videoverse's fictional video game magazines are the stuff of dreams

    All hail the publishing companies brave enough to put a visual novel on the front cover

    As a liker, consumer and person who used to work in print media, I always get a thrill out of seeing things like books in games, DVD shelves, magazines, you name it. If it's a bit of video game set dressing that has a legible spine with words on it, I will absolutely scrutinise it to the nth degree. Videoverse, the excellent homage to early 00s internet forums and Nintendo's Miiverse that came out earlier this week, doesn't have spine-filled book shelves, per se, but throughout the game you will see a collection of game magazines piling up on Emmett's desk, and readers, let me tell you, they are a delight.

  • A character with long dark hair and purple circular glasses reaches towards the camera in Frank And Drake

    It's been a while since I picked a game that irritated me quite so much. I quit playing Frank And Drake twice before even meeting its second protagonist, but something about it kept pulling me back.

    It's partly the style. Some gorgeous rotoscoping gives its few characters a sense of constant motion that's unreal and very lifelike at once, and it's sometimes pushed further by having them decelerate to a blurred freeze frame when you stop walking. The backgrounds are static but interactable things shimmer a bit, like in old cartoons where you could always tell what was background and what was going to do something. More than that, though, it had me intrigued.

  • A red-haired elven woman dressed as a monk in Baldur's Gate 3

    Supporters only: I always create the most boring characters possible in RPGs, pls help

    Yes, I'm very jealous of Edders Sheeran

    I'm not afraid to admit this, but it's become increasingly obvious over the last few days of playing Baldur's Gate 3 that my ability to create interesting custom characters is severely lacking compared to other members of the RPS Treehouse. Case in point, our Ed breezily announced yesterday in our team Slack that he was playing as a Dark Urge bard called, wait for it, Edders Sheeran like it was no big deal whatsoever. I'm not gonna lie, a tiny part of me died inside upon hearing this, simply because of its sheer (not a pun), unadultered brilliance. I mean, come on, it's so good it should actually be illegal.

    But it also confirmed to me a deep dark truth about myself that I think I knew deep down, but had kinda been pushing under my equally drab mental carpet for years and years. I'm quite boring at the end of the day, and am the type of person who, no matter the game, always creates basically the same identical person every single time.

  • Three players take on a red-eyed, enormous alien in Remnant 2.

    Supporters only: The joy of cheesing bosses in Remnant 2

    We haven't deserved a single victory

    Liam and I have been playing looter shooter Remnant 2 in our spare time, as we realised we both couldn't stop thinking about it. Having been burned out of Destiny 2 and most live service games, we discovered Remnant 2 delivers all the benefits of blasting gangly creatures for skill points without all the live service baggage. What a refreshing thing.

    Thing is, if two out of the three major bosses we've faced so far took us to court for cheesing them, we'd lose. And it brings us no greater pleasure, knowing we've carved powerful new weapons out of their remains. God, it feels good to be totally undeserving of any credit whatsoever.

  • A sea of repeating RPS logos.

    Hello folks. It sure has been a while, hasn't it? Huge apologies for that. I would say it's been an unusually busy year, but then again, it's always a busy year, so I really have no excuse. Sorry about that. But! After some much appreciated feedback on how I can improve these Letters From The Editor, I return to you today with some notes and thoughts about how we're going to cover Baldur's Gate 3. I'll tell you now, it's going to be a while before you see our review, as review code only arrived a couple of days ago.

  • A mech warrior jumps on to a platform and dodges enemies in Gravity Circuit

    I have a complicated relationship with retro-style games in general, and no particular fondness for the Everything Was Nintendo school. Or platformers, or double jumping, or dashing, or neon, or being alive in general. Dislike is the wrong word, but "weary neutrality" about covers my feelings when another retro platformer comes down the game tubes.

    Gravity Circuit, however, is good enough that I can't not mention it here. It's loud and bright without being obnoxious or overwhelming, fast and precise without being overly demanding, and generally just a damn good effort at creating a modern action platformer whose main influence is obvious, but isn't just going through the motions for the sake of nostalgia. I'm saying it's good, yeah? Maybe not quite for me, but good anyway.

  • Artwork for Desperados 3, Assassin's Creed Odyssey and Mutazione, with the RPS 100 logo in the corner

    Supporters only: The RPS (not quite) 100: Honourable mentions

    This year's #101 list

    Every year when I ask the team to vote for their favourite games of all time ahead of us putting together our annual RPS 100 list, I'm regularly astonished by the sheer breadth of games that fly into my inbox. Everyone on the team has such varied, individual tastes, and it heartens me to see so many different genres and types of games represented every year. This year's list (available to read now in Part One and Part Two is another great testament to that.

    But as we (sometimes) jokingly say any time we compile a big list like this, the games that didn't make the cut are always at #101. Well, this year I thought supporters might like to see those games at #101 this year, and crikey, there are a lot. There are so many here, in fact, that we would have had to have stretched to an RPS 200 to include them all. So here are our honourable mentions this year (listed, for ease), and I'd love to see you try and guess which games belonged to which member of the team.

  • Alan Wake in the Alan Wake 2 announcement trailer.

    Supporters only: Alan Wake is a terrible writer but dammit, I respect him

    Dreamweaver (almost literally)

    While I was on holiday last week I started playing Alan Wake for the first time ever in my whole life, due to a working theory that I might end up reviewing the sequel one day, who knows. I am furious because none of you told me Alan Wake is essentially Garth Marenghi in his Twin Peaks era, and if you had I would have played it ages ago. The game is such a knowing snake ball of mating tropes that it ouroboroses round into being brilliant, flawless, ridiculous. And also Alan is a terrible writer, I would hate his books. But also everyone should leave him alone because he's doing his best.

  • A clue is highlighted on a map in Crime O'Clock

    Supporters only: Crime O'Clock is a neat hidden object thriller bogged down by mini-games

    Your AI crime-solving companion needs to lay off with the logic puzzles already

    Crime O'Clock is a game that should (apologies in advance) tick (sorry) a lot of boxes for me. There's a time-travelling detective story at the heart of it, in which you and a very Minority Report-style AI work together to stop crimes that will disrupt the one true timeline throughout history, and it's all played out on gorgeous black and white tableaus like Adriaan de Jongh's wonderful Hidden Folks. You'll rewind and fast forward time to plot suspicious movements, track stolen objects as they move across town, and work out who (or what) is causing all this chaos. I'm having good fun with it, but I do wish it would stop whisking me away from its lovely maps to go and complete yet another tedious mini-game.

  • A woman stands on a crumbling dock where large statues block her way in Decarnation

    Supporters only: Decarnation is a well-tuned psychological horror

    Dance Dance Revelation

    Fun as it is to pose as an expert on everything, I am not the best judge when it comes to the old psychojalimical horror. Which may be why I don't quite know how I feel about Decarnation.

    There's a big content warning needed here for sexual assault, something that I assumed would turn out to be the whole point of the game. An unfair judgement, it turns out, as one of its strengths is the intriguing mystery of what's actually going on, not the more common "what traumatic thing is everything a metaphor for".

    Protagonist Gloria has a lot going on, see. She's a talented cabaret dancer who recently modelled for a statue, for an artist who immediately makes some creepy remarks about how she's an ugly old hag at 29. Misogyny and self image are at the heart of this, but they're wrapped up in Gloria's worries about getting older, chasing intimacy with a new lover, and her deep love for dance, an art form that games so rarely do much with. It's not an ugly or blunt game, despite its distressing themes, and I think that's why it works for me overall.

  • A cyborg does some soldering inside a busy apartment room with a cat in artwork for Citizen Sleeper

    Supporters only: Citizen Sleeper's new monthly newsletter is fuelling my excitement for its Starward Vector sequel

    The Helion Dispatches come straight to your inbox every month

    It's weird when one of your favourite notE3 announcements ends up being a little more than a notion of a game, or rather a trailer for a game that doesn't quite exist yet. But hey, when it's Citizen Sleeper 2: Starward Vector we're talking about, I think it's okay to give it a pass. I am so, so pumped to head back into the world of the Helion System developer Jump Over The Age has created here, even if it's going to be a good long while before we get to do that yet. Indeed, when I spoke to them ahead of the game's reveal at this year's PC Gaming Show, creator Gareth Damian Martin said it probably wouldn't be until at least next year before we start seeing it in action.

    The good news is, while we wait for Starward Vector to come into orbit, Damian Martin is putting out a free monthly newsletter to help fill that Citizen Sleeper-shaped hole in our lives. Entitled The Helion Dispatches, the second episode just came out this week, and I've been enjoying it immensely.

  • An ungainly purple and blue six-wheeled space buggy in Mars First Logistics

    At last, a game to unite Graham, Ollie, and me in a triumvirate of absolute dorks. Mars First Logistics is a game about designing little moon rover buggies to pick things up and drive them to somewhere else.

    If you looked at it and went "ooh", your coo lobe was right. "Design a vehicle" games are often too fiddly and/or competition-oriented for me, and trucking games too businesslike and grounded. This threads the needle beautifully. It's challenging, but gently, prioritising an approachable design and smooth controls without sacrificing the satisfaction of solving a decent engineering puzzle. It's even pretty, so that even plain driving back and forth is pleasant and rewarding.

  • The little shadowy gloomling in Doomblade jumping around a pink and green arena being attacked by giant caterpillars

    There are games about being a weird little guy, and then there are games about being a weird little gal infused with the power of a vengeful demonic sword. Doomblade is both metal and kind of cute, and it's held my interest longer than the average platformer or metroidy castley oh my god do we seriously not have a better word for this yet.

    The main thing marking it out, apart from its style, is that instead of stabbing monsters, you attack by hovering the cursor (actually the shimmery face of the sword's spirit) over them and clicking, which launches your little globby shadow man directly at them. You can probably already imagine that this is also a means of getting around the world.

  • A huge cathedral in Return To Grace with massive wooden pillars and red carpet, leading to a huge pulpit

    Supporters only: I love Return To Grace's gorgeous retrofuturist-ish design

    It's space, Jim, kind of as we know it

    Look, it might be a bit tired by now, but dammit if I'm not a fool for designs that are like "Space, but the 60s", or "Space, but the 30s", or even "Space, but the 80s", which by that point was basically just "space". You get my point. The future, but via a second-hand retro clothes store full of dungarees and big print. I'd hesitate to say Return To Grace, a gentle adventure about exploring an ancient complex that houses a long-dormant god-like AI, entirely meets the strict definition of "retrofuturist", but it's definitely "space but the 60s", and it looks bloody lovely.

  • A group of Alliance leaders discussing the next move in The Pegasus Expedition

    Alright, sure, so we technically assassinated your leader, and detonated a populated planet, and wiped out the first clan we ever met. But that was all self defence and we're not here to cause trouble. We just... have a lot going on okay.

    The Pegasus Expedition is one of my favourite kinds of game. I'm not sure if it quite comes together enough, but it's trying something so original that even its partial success is worth celebrating. You're leading a 4X-ish effort to establish a power base in an unfamiliar galaxy. But you're not doing it to conquer everyone or win victory points. You're doing it so you can go back home and save Earth from annihilation.

  • Ichiban hesitantly pulls his exam results out of an envelope in Yakuza: Like A Dragon.

    As some of you might be aware, I went to Japan earlier this year and had a great time. Off the back of the trip, I've finally decided to get my act together and pursue a long, arduous road to some degree of fluency. It's always going to be a work-in-progress, but I think I've settled into a language learning routine which leaves me with plenty of time for Love Island in the evening. DuoLingo's owl has been punted to the curb, too, because the bird is awful.

    Naturally, I've turned to a textbook: Genki I. At first I thought there was no getting past it being a bit dry - I mean they aren't meant to be thrillers, are they? Until, that was, I discovered Game Gengo, a YouTuber who takes each lesson from the textbook, breaks them down into manageable chunks, all complete with loads of examples from video games. I spend most of my evenings with the guy, and what a treat it is.

  • A white man with an unnerving star and extremely yellow pointy hair - the Adoring Fan in Starfield

    Supporters only: Pete Hines saying Starfield is "irresponsibly large" makes me want to walk into the sea

    Make them smaller or, so help me God, do not make them

    Last week while I was away from my desk, Pete Hines showed that the Starfield hype train is an unstoppable perpetual motion engine, and he certainly won't pull the emergency break for something as normie as a federal court. While his comments were part of the ongoing Actiblizz acquisition malarkey (the point seemingly being "it's so big it'd be too hard to optimise for PS5"), hearing him pitch Bethesda's upcoming grey-rocks-but-in-space-this-time RPG as "irresponsibly large" made me want to go full Reggie Perrin.

    Every time I bring my reviews of giant games to the altar of the industry, I weep tears of blood and beg that games be shorter. And every time the golden idol with the face of Phil Spencer opens its maw to spit a new £80 disc out and says: "Bigger than ever before. A million pointless collectibles. A feast of zero-calorie content. Lol. Lmao."

  • Looking at a desk lamp on a large wood desk in a plush study in Escape From Mystwood Mansion

    Supporters only: I would like every developer to make an escape room game, thank you

    Lock me up and throw away the key

    I really like escape rooms IRL, and have a tremendous amount of respect for the people who devise them. But seeing as how they last about an hour and cost approximately the same as it would for Wales to secede from the United Kingdom, I can only afford to pay an immersive experience what it deserves every so often (the rest of the time I'm honourbound by my fatherland to donate to causes supported by Michael Sheen). I'm therefore pleased that there seems to be an uptick in escape room video games. Plese do more of those, developers.

  • Handsome blonde muscled protagonist Rock addresses his team of pals in To Hell With The Ugly

    A decent name is one thing, but one like To Hell With The Ugly plain demands to be looked up. That's when you see the striking art style, and yeah okay, I'm already on on board.

    Based on a French novel by Boris Vian, this tells a strange and surprisingly dark story about a famously handsome young himbo who gets caught up in a sinister plot in 1950s Los Angeles and has to adventure, talk, fight, and - horrors - reason his way to the truth. It's an adventure game with quick-time event bits, and a 50s America setting, all of which could put me off it entirely, but I can't bring myself to say anything bad about it at all.

  • Shooting baddies in radiation suits in retro indie FPS Kvark

    Supporters only: Kvark's atmosphere defines it as more than a Half-Life rehash

    Hostile environment work

    The glut of "old school" shooters has largely passed me by, not least because I can easily play Doom today if I want to. But Kvark looks to Half-Life instead of the Doomquake clone era, and is all the better for it. You're a worker/prisoner in a sinister nuclear facility deep under 1980s Czechoslovakia where things, as you might guess, have gone terribly wrong.

    The satirical Soviet posters and propaganda reels are here, but used sparingly, and more convincingly than the usual "Russia, haha! Vodka! lol!" fare, and although all its parts are fairly familiar, Kvark feels distinct enough that I had a hard time actually putting it down.

  • A boss in Islets: a kind of noodle-armed cat in a red robe, firing a corona of red swords

    This weekend I spent some time trying out a bunch of games that I meant to try earlier, but didn't have the time to. I played through all of Superliminal, for example, and really enjoyed it until the very end when I got an inspirational lecture from an invisible scientist living in my ear - and I did not care for it. One game I played for literally half an hour and thought it was great, but I was not good enough to beat the first boss I came across. But I thought to myself, other people are better at Metroidvanias, and at least one of them might appreciate being nudged in the direction of a year old one I think is cute. Thus: Islets.

  • A photo of EGX staff preparing to open the doors for the day.

    Supporters only: Celebrate 15 years of EGX by coming down to our charity London pub quiz this Thursday

    RPS supporters can get a free drink, too

    Our sister site Eurogamer is celebrating 15 years of EGX (aka: the Eurogamer Expo) this month, and they're holding a charity pub quiz in its honour down in London this Thursday, June 8th. Yes, yes, we know that's the same day as Geoff's Annual Trainer Showcase (aka: Summer Game Fest), but hey, at least it's for a good cause, with all proceeds going to the lovely folks at GamesAid. Tickets are on sale now, and RPS supporters can also get a special code to nab themselves a free drink. Details below.

  • A schoolgirl walking through a crowd in the rain in Raid On Taihoku

    I'm unsure whether to call Raid On Taihoku a "historical game", since it's an adventure game with enough daftness to feel a bit unlike what that phrase brings to mind. But it's set very thoroughly in Taiwan towards the end of World War II, and though the focus is a young girl's relationship with her family and friends, that context is critical to why I've enjoyed it so much.

    Taxonomy aside, then, the important thing is that it's enjoyable. It hasn't hit the emotional highs of the kind of interactive fiction I favour, but for a story with such heavy themes, it provides a relaxing drip feed of mystery reveals and plot thickenings in between low-pressure minigames. It's a good time, without undermining its obvious respect for the people who had to live through this.

  • The two robot pals get ready to solve puzzles in Portal 2

    Today is another out of sync Bank Holiday for me. It's not one in Ireland, so I'm the only one rattling around in here at the moment. And it occurs to me that the vast, vast, vast majority of you will never have met me in real life. The evidence that I exist in physical space is comparatively minimal! How do you know I'm not an AI? An AI could probably replicate my writing style quite thoroughly, because there are at present many thousands of my - mine, my own - words on the internet, and they and everything else have and are being scraped by AI. This thought process is as a result of a few AI things intersecting with my workspace at once recently. Several of them are quite funny, and also not. If you think AI tools are actually good for writers then I have to assume you don't really think much about either.