Choose your own ad­ven­ture

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Nathan Drake leaps across a chasm, his arms at full stretch, his fin­gers find­ing a hand­hold. His grip is sound, but rock crum­bles away, and the game cues in an au­dio file from the day Nolan North spent in a sound booth yelling ‘Holy crap!’ over and over. Drake falls away, arms scrab­bling against thin air. He catches a ledge a few yards below, and we’re back on our way.

Un­charted 4 (p104) has a Tro­phy called Ludonar­ra­tive Dis­so­nance. It’s a send-up of the well-worn com­plaint about the happy-go-lucky, cheeky-chappy ad­ven­turer who turns into a psy­chopath when bad guys show up. But there’s an­other dis­con­nect at the Un­charted series’ core. These games make you feel like there’s so much at stake, when in fact there’s noth­ing at all. Mess up a jump and you’ll respawn on the pre­vi­ous plat­form. Fall in com­bat and you’ll lose a cou­ple of min­utes of pg progress. And hand­holds won’t crum­ble into noth­ing un­less there’s some­thing below for Drake to au­to­mat­i­cally grab onto. This is no bad thing: if you’ve been play­ing as much Dark

Souls III as we have, it’s ac­tu­ally a wel­come change of pace. But if it’s con­se­quence you’re af­ter, there’s plenty this month to keep you oc­cu­pied. The Ban­ner Saga 2 (p116) is a game of mak­ing tough de­ci­sions and suf­fer­ing through their in­evitably bleak out­comes. Fire Em­blem Fates (p114) puts a real price on your choices, since they dic­tate which one of three games you’ll ac­tu­ally play.

There’s no purer an ex­pres­sion of choice and con­se­quence than a puz­zle game, and there are few finer than this month’s sur­prise pack­age. Stephen’s Sausage Roll (p120) is a pun­ish­ing game of grilled pork by-prod­ucts that greets a sin­gle er­ror with a fail­ure screen, and gives you no help at all, just the chance to learn from your many mis­takes. Un­like its sub­ject mat­ter, it’s cer­tainly an ac­quired taste.

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