For PS+ in July, Sony Scares Up Impressive, Atmospheric Offerings
Lately, doing a monthly comparison of the free games being offered by the different gaming subscription services wouldn’t really swing in Sony’s favor. While they’re to be commended for making a broad variety of under-the-radar, independent games available across their three platforms for PS+ subscribers, the lack of noteworthy titles has made for a lackluster 2017 thus far. The combination of last month and, especially, this month show that Sony is getting back on track, though. Included this month, a recent popular horror title, a classic fighting game revamped for the HD generation, and a little Game of Thrones action for the fans out there. Excitement is coming back to Sony’s monthly announcements, and it’s great to see them deliver the goods.
Games that feature branching paths or moral choices often operate under what’s called the “illusion of choice”, in which decisions made are often marginalized or funneled into a unified outcome. The success of games that employ this narrative tactic largely depends on the immersion of their mood, whether it’s engrossing — read: distracting — enough of a story or atmosphere to make one not really care whether their choices mattered or not. Until Dawn achieves this, thriving as a survival-horror interactive narrative focused on a group of teenagers who visit, and revisit, a lodge in the middle of the woods, where they’re pursued by a deranged individual and come head-to-head with mythical, human-eating beasts. The choices made are a mix of meaningful and cursory ones that either mildly tamper with the story’s path or determine who lives and dies, enough to encourage multiple runs through it to experience the different outcomes.
Game of Thrones
*cue theme song* Dun dun, dun dun dun dun …
Excitement for Game of Thrones really can’t get much higher than it’s at right now, with the season premiere of the show’s final, climactic season — well, first half of a final season — set to arrive in the middle of July. Capitalizing on that same enthusiasm a few years ago, Telltale Games employed their fill-in-the-gap method of interactive, dialogue-driven storytelling within a franchise for their take on Game of Thrones. Bringing in familiar voices for the cast, from Peter Dinklage and Emilia Clarke to Iwan Rheon’s Ramsay Snow in a significant role, this story focuses upon the fate of the newly-introduced (yet briefly referenced in the books) House Forrester between the end of the television show’s third season up until the beginning of the fifth season. Centering on this new house affords the writers to experiment with Telltale’s brand of choose-your-own-adventure decision making without any significant ramifications upon the central plot.
If you’re the type that isn’t into controlling a videogame character that isn’t a human, or even vaguely humanlike, then Tokyo Jungle probably isn’t for you. That’s because its premise hinges on the entirety of mankind being extinct, leaving the population of the animal kingdom to explore the overgrown wasteland of Tokyo. Through various missions in the story mode, the player controls several different types of animals and continues to unlock other species with progression through the experience. Gameplay centers on the facets of survival — eating, reproducing, expanding territory — while it all eventually leads to the discovery of what ultimately happened to mankind. Understandably, the reception to Tokyo Jungle was polarized, with some players feeling detached from the experience due to its animal-on-animal monotony and violence. Uniqueness and the bonkers answer to the humanity question finds a way through that, though.
Fighting games in the ‘90s really had to pull out the stop to compete with the likes of Mortal Kombat and Street Fighter, both in the arcades and on the newest consoles. Capcom’s Darkstalkers was one that held its own and continues to do so, taking the formula of other 2D fighters — directly using Street Fighter II’s engine — and adding a darkly whimsical, creature-feature spin to the characters and powers. I really dug it, mostly because the selection of fighter personalities made it tough to choose which one to use: the vampire, the werewolf, the mummy, the undead samurai, the hot succubus, or … ? Darkstalkers: Resurrection bundles together two remastered sequels to the original game, Night Warriors: Darkstalkers Revenge and Darkstalkers 3, and grants them reinvigorated HD graphics and smooth online play. Powered by nostalgia above modern fighting-game polish, this is an essential upgrade for fans.
Originally released for the PC, ELEMENT4L brings together familiar platforming components involving shadowy level design and controls designed to extend the propulsion of the little hero, a manifestation of our four elements brought into one. Almost like a fusion of LIMBO and Flappy Bird, the gameplay has the character navigate puzzle-oriented, blackened levels with the added help of limited airborne movement that … y’know, can kinda flap them along. Its marketing touts the absence of weapons and tangible enemies in its design, instead relying on the raw energy of the elemental hero — and the ingenuity of the player — to send them up and over, down and around by utilizing the game’s physics engine.
Don’t Die, Mr. Robot
The title of a game doesn’t get much more appropriately descriptive or accurate than Don’t Die, Mr. Robot. As the player moves around a little square, wide-eyed robot that’s customizable by the player, the straightforward gameplay and vibrant visuals take more than a few pages out of the playbook of Geometry Wars. What results is a lot of vibrantly-colored chaos as the player avoids obstacles and projectiles in a highly confined grid of a space, sporting familiar game modes as “remix” levels are unlocked with progression. The graphics are stiff and simplistic, lacking the refined visual allure of similar games, but some might boot up some enjoyment with its aesthetic and challenge.