Numbers never lie
Eventually, the number becomes a problem. Were Activision still counting, this year’s Infinite Warfare would be called Call Of Duty 13. Four games in, you’d forgive Capcom Vancouver for ditching the digit and going with a subtitle instead – but no, here comes Dead Rising 4 (p36), its name instantly saddling it with the burden of its muddled past.
Numbers imply a continuation, a gently iterated consistency, and that is precisely what Dead Rising 4 is. New toys and tools; improved and streamlined mechanics; and a bigger, more beautiful world. It returns to the original game’s shopping mall, and brings back its protagonist. Fortunately for Capcom Vancouver and Microsoft, Dead Rising ’s core loop of increasingly bonkers zombie-splatting is as engaging as ever. But there is something about publisher Microsoft’s current predeliction for numbered sequels – in a year that has already yielded Gears Of War 4 and Forza Horizon 3 – that doesn’t exactly set the pulse racing. Those of the tachycardiac persuasion, however, need look no further than Nidhogg 2 (p48), a sequel to a fighting game played at breakneck pace, where matches are won and lost in a split second. There’s as much to be wary of as there is to be excited about, admittedly – not least the addition of more weapons to a game whose balance derived from the austerity of its design – but ultimately Nidhogg 2 gets to the heart of the easy appeal of the numbered sequel. We liked Nidhogg a lot, and here comes some more of it.
For a developer, it can’t be easy toiling away endlessly on the same series of games. In that context, many of Supergiant Games’ contemporaries must eye the studio with envy. This is a developer that changes tack with every game, yet retains a style and flair all of its own. Its latest, Pyre (p40), is no exception. You suspect that, were Microsoft calling the shots, right now Supergiant would be toiling away on Bastion 3 instead.