PS+ Games For November: Knockouts, Troubles, a Re-Reckoning
At first glance, there may not seem like there’s much to the PS+ games made available for November, a month that’s bound to be hectic for any and all trying to get their hands on a PS5 for the holiday. An under-the-radar remaster, a deception party game, and a sports game centered on … dodgeball? Thing is, they all have underlying strengths that make them more than meets the eye, and while they may not push new subscriptions or anything, they’re bound to satisfy those hopping onto PlayStations and linking up with their subscription service in this pivotal, chaotic month. Plus, that number actually doubles to 6 this month for those who are into Sony’s VR system.
Let’s take a closer look at the titles, but before doing so, head over and Grab a 1-Year Subscription Card from Amazon to access the benefits.
In a way, some of the concepts of dodgeball exist in the early pieces of gaming’s DNA, where the likes of Pong and Breakout involve timing the player-controlled icon to “catch” a ball and send it back at a precise target. Games nowadays naturally require a little more oomph to hold interest than that, and when it comes to the actual schoolyard sport of dodgeball, it usually has to coexist with other aspects of a game like as a side activity in Rockstar’s Bully. Developers have picked up on how fun the concept can be in videogame for, however, and they’ve had some success in making dedicated games about it, from the story-based side-scrolling Dodgeball Academia to the hyper-futuristic hybridization of Robot Roller-Derby Disco Dodgeball.
None of them have really captured the sport of dodgeball in an objective, near-simulation fashion, though, and that’s where Knockout City comes in … sort of. Sure, the game takes place in a colorful, futuristic setting reminiscent of Fortnite or Splatoon instead of in gym class or a sports arena, it isn’t limited to the confines of a rectangular court, and one strike of the ball doesn’t mean you’re out. That said, once the player gets involved with the multi-level battlegrounds and adjusts to the power-ups, there’s a fluidity to the gameplay in Knockout City that genuinely gets what playing dodgeball is about, and the rest of what’s going on – the power-ups, life bars, and quirky characters — comes across as the necessary expansions to the gameplay to give it variety and potential longevity.
Kingdoms of Amalur: Re-Reckoning
There’s a pretty odd and winding story behind the original development and release of Kingdoms of Amalur, involving a professional baseball player, incentives through the state of Rhode Island, shut-down and acquired studios and, ultimately, an MMORPG remodeled into a single-player experience. With a host of talent behind the world-building – R.A. Salvatore for the text lore, Todd McFarlane for the visuals – what was once an immensely ambitious project ended up being a better-than-average dungeon crawler with an impressive amount of character customization. Alas, against the likes of Dark Souls and Dragon’s Dogma, not to mention the rampant and enduring popularity of Skyrim, the remodeled fantasy game had to settle for being an alternative, the next in line for genre fans.
That’s a shame, because despite the obvious roots of its creation being visible in the finished game, Kingdoms of Amalur is actually quite enjoyable and layered as a hack-‘n-slash RPG, and it has built a niche following since its initial release. It’s strong enough for THQ Nordic to go back to the well and release the Re-Reckoning version for modern consoles, to perform a measured visual remaster while also including gameplay difficulty tweaks – including zone level recalculations and a “very hard” mode – and a compilation of all DLC. Fantasy RPGs have progressed a bit over the past decade and Kingdoms of Amalur doesn’t attempt to counterbalance this much, allowing its enjoyable aged leveling and customization systems to get the job done in the same way they fought to do so almost a decade ago.
First Class Trouble
Social deduction games have become popular over the past decade, escalating in popularity as the likes of Werewolf and Mafia were modified into variations within different settings, from WWII Germany with Secret Hitler and renaissance times with Love Letter to a dystopian future with The Resistance. However, it could be argued that the format has taken another dramatic jump in popularity with the introduction of Among Us, a like-minded game of deduction that uses various colored spacesuit meeples that are deemed “sus”(picious) or not in their effort to survive on a space station. Determined either by the crewmates completing tasks or the impostors killing off the crewmates before they can, it’s a way of bringing the social concept to a digital interface in a colorful, animated way.
In a way, First Class Trouble piggybacks off the success of Among Us and attempts to bring the social deduction concept back to a more “humanoid” and normal level. Even though it also takes place on an outer space station and some of the other players are murderous robots, it operates around customizable human-looking avatars who are observing the actions of other humans in the beautiful 3D space of a luxury space transport. Players vote on who’s suspicious or not and, of course, throw those on the wrong end of the vote out the airlock, and eventually winners are determined based off whether she ship’s AI maintains control of the transport or not. In theory, First Class Trouble is a smart way of executing a mature videogame version of the social deduction game; however, players have struggled with stability and repetitiveness issues on the PlayStation, so that’s worth keeping in mind.
On top of those games, Sony has also made a trio of VR titles available for free download this month: The Persistence, a sci-fi survival horror game hinged on repairing a space colonization ship that’s been plagued by monstrous mutated humans; The Walking Dead: Saints and Sinners, another horror survival experience set in the popular zombie universe from the comics and show; and Until You Fall, a color and dynamic hybrid of laser sword-fighting and rhythm coordination. It’s worth noting that The Persistence actually has a non-VR mode as well, which essentially makes it a 4th free general title for this month.