One step back, two steps forward
The past is a dangerous thing in videogames. When Capcom says that one of its overarching goals with Resident Evil VII: Biohazard (p94) is to return to the sphincter-tightening brand of survival horror that defined the series in the first place, your thoughts might naturally turn to tank controls, to crude polygonal dogs bursting through windows, and to Jill Valentine, the master of unlocking. Of course, Capcom means that it’s returning to the spirit of the first game – and it has done so in style and splendour. But the negative connotation is unavoidable in a medium where we expect sequels to be in lock step with the onward march of technology, and for their timescales to do the same. Any whiff of the past merely invites suspicion.
So it is with Yakuza 0 (p98), which rewinds the clock by three decades to the time when OutRun and Space Harrier were the exemplars of what videogame technology had to offer. Here, those games are simply arcade-perfect distractions. Yet by setting PS4’s first Yakuza game in 1988, Sega runs the risk of making this long-running series’ first appearance on modern hardware seem positively old hat before a face has even been kicked in anger. Relax: this is the most accessible
Yakuza game in years, and one of the very best, too. Indeed, if this month tells us anything, it’s that more games could make use of the rewind button. Gravity Rush
2 (p102) begins immediately after the events of the first game; its opening is ponderously dull, its action takes far too long to show its true colours and, by sticking so close to its predecessor in terms of time, it’s unable to shake free of its less successful elements. It’s a game that mucks about with gravity, but on this month’s evidence it might have been better off had it also played around with time.