Old souls


E3 may have of­fered us a teas­ing glimpse of the fu­ture of in­ter­ac­tive en­ter­tain­ment, but this month’s Play crop of­fers a much more nos­tal­gic view of things. Sum­mer is a quiet time for games; typ­i­cally it’s an ideal time for slightly left-of-cen­tre fare to stand out. Yet one look at the list of new re­leases this month might have you won­der­ing ex­actly which year we’re in.

In Ever Oa­sis (p114), we have a cutesy, su­per-de­formed Ja­panese RPG di­rected by Koichi Ishii, an in­dus­try vet­eran best known as the di­rec­tor of SNES clas­sic Se­cret Of Mana. Things have moved on since then, cer­tainly, but Ishii’s sig­na­ture runs right through Ever Oa­sis, both for bet­ter and worse.

Mean­while, one look at Valkyria Revo­lu­tion (p108) and you’d be for­given for think­ing you’d slipped into an al­ter­nate time­line where Sega never turned its back on the con­cept of risk af­ter one luke­warm set of fis­cal re­sults too many. Fi­nal

Fan­tasy XIV: Storm­blood (p112), mean­while, calls back to a time be­fore the WOW-in­spired MMO loot grind lost its lus­tre. And, heav­ens above, what’s that on p119? A new

Mi­cro Ma­chines? Are you sure it’s still 2017? While none of the above are en­tirely with­out charm, they are all de­signed to ap­peal to a cer­tain type of player, grey about the tem­ples and pin­ing for bet­ter by­gone times. And the kind smile of nos­tal­gia can ex­cuse all kinds of ills: Revo­lu­tion’s aw­ful story; Storm­blood’s hack­neyed quest­ing; Mi­cro Ma­chines’ weirdly cor­po­rate ve­neer. Yet you don’t need to be an­cient to ap­pre­ci­ate

Nex Machina (p104). Its in­spi­ra­tions may be dated, and ob­vi­ous, but this light­ning-paced, spec­tac­u­lar homage to

Robotron – made in part­ner­ship with that game’s creator Eu­gene Jarvis – would be es­sen­tial in any era. If only we still had our 1980s re­flexes.

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