As time goes by
Nostalgia is a perilous vein to tap. Get it right and the results can be potent, but miss the mark and you risk souring the memory of something many hold dear. With its G1 bots and shimmering cel-shaded visuals, Platinum Games’ Transformers: Devastation (p114) makes a Bumblebee line for ’80s childhood memories – especially those of purists still simmering over offshoots such as Rescue Bots and Michael Bay’s loud, juddering interpretation of the universe – and delivers big-hearted fan service in the process.
Frictional’s latest horror game, Soma (p110), also trades on 20th century pop-culture references, with a clear affection for the Alien movies. However, its combination of body horror and rescue mission gone awry slithers underneath the surface layer of this sci-fi adventure’s deep-sea setting, Frictional spinning its own distinctive take on a familiar situation to yield something that feels unique.
But it’s not necessary to reach back a full three decades to benefit from past glories. This month, Harmonix returns to peripheral-heavy rhythm action in Rock Band 4 (p116) after the series’ five-year hiatus, and proves that it was worth getting the band back together. Teaming up with friends to jam on plastic instruments remains as inherently silly as it ever was, but just as much fun, too.
If only Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 5 (p118) could have pulled off its comeback so convincingly. Developer Robomodo set out to write the likes of Underground and American Wasteland out of history, but if you’re going to include a level called School III, you’d better have the chops to back it up. Despite all the talk, Pro Skater 5 bails spectacularly.
Rekindling old flames is always risky, then, but the opportunity to revisit cherished memories in new ways is surely worth the risk of occasionally falling flat on your face.