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.

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