Press star­tle


When you’ve spent as many years play­ing games as we have, it’s easy to be­come a lit­tle fa­tigued with widely adopted ideas and de­sign prin­ci­ples. Don’t get us wrong: it’s great to be able to hop from one game to the next with the min­i­mum of ac­cli­ma­ti­sa­tion, but it’s nice to be sur­prised some­times.

Thank good­ness, then, for this month’s Play sec­tion. Take Rime (p102), for ex­am­ple: Te­quila Works’ enig­matic ad­ven­ture fea­tures no com­bat, a mod­est number of puz­zles and am­bles along at a gen­tle pace. The stu­dio’s con­trar­ian ap­proach is fur­ther un­der­scored by its touch­ing ap­proach to col­lecta­bles, and the fact that the rules and con­di­tions shift through­out. De­spite early com­par­isons to other games, Rime mostly feels un­fa­mil­iar, and is all the bet­ter for it.

Get Even (p110) goes fur­ther. While The Farm 51 isn’t al­ways suc­cess­ful in mar­ry­ing its dra­matic as­pi­ra­tions to mem­o­rable game de­sign, Get Even’s re­fusal to con­form to a genre, let alone the rules of the gen­res it mixes to­gether, makes for an en­joy­ably dis­ori­ent­ing ex­pe­ri­ence.

Gi­ant Spar­row’s What Re­mains Of Edith Finch (p114) is sim­i­larly dif­fi­cult to clas­sify. The Un­fin­ished Swan stu­dio’s sec­ond nar­ra­tive ad­ven­ture ini­tially ap­pears to match our ex­pec­ta­tions, but quickly shakes off easy pi­geon-hol­ing as its var­i­ous sto­ries are told with daz­zling creativ­ity.

All three of these games find in­no­va­tive ways to tell their sto­ries through play, rather than bolt­ing proven – and pos­si­bly ill-suited – de­sign con­cepts awk­wardly onto an ex­ist­ing yarn af­ter the fact. Not that fo­cus­ing on proven me­chan­ics is nec­es­sar­ily bad, of course. With The Surge (p112), Deck13 has built on both its love for the Souls games and its pre­vi­ous game, Lords Of The Fallen. It doesn’t al­ways come to­gether smoothly, but there’s plenty to en­joy here even if it’s hard not to feel like we’ve seen it all be­fore.

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