PS+ Stalls Out With October’s Attractive, Yet Anemic Free Games
In the stretch leading up to the release of the PS5, Sony has decided to play it safe with their Plus free games for October. Sure, folks would like to see heavy hitters during this crunch time before new-console enthusiasm kicks into gear, but the pair of titles being offered this month manages, in theory, to deliver variety, bigger-budget substance, and a dose of Halloween-themed potency in one of ’em. When it comes to critical reception, however, neither of these games did very well with either the pros or the players, and that’s where some sluggish enthusiasm might set in from its subscribers.
Are folks too excited about what’s to come next month to really care? Probably – and that’s the case for both of the big sub services – but there’s no risk of accidentally distracting from PS5 details or, conversely, building new enthusiasm for being a Plus member with this pair. Let’s jump into the games, but be sure to fuel up your account with a Year PlayStation Plus Subscription Card from Amazon beforehand.
The folks at DONTNOD got started by developing what I consider to be one of the more overlooked third-person sci-fi games out there: Remember Me, a pseudo-cyberpunk brawler with clever dystopian world-building and an intuitive hand-to-hand combo creation system. It was a sleeper hit, for sure, but one would think it’d possibly lead to bigger things in the action genre … yet instead, they’ve become more focused on interactive stories such as Life is Strange.
Before this pivot came the release of Vampyr, though, which attempts to mesh action-oriented gameplay with some of the role-playing aspects that made Vampire: The Masquerade such an interesting property (both the pen-‘n-paper game and the Bloodlines PC title), tapping into the absence of a videogame sequel to that cult-classic franchise. It also demonstrates why DONTNOD moved away from action titles: while the storytelling, world-building, and interactions earn high marks, the resulting serviceable combat and RP systems drain some of the life out of it. Didn’t drain enough to not give it a shot, though.
Need for Speed: Payback
The Need for Speed franchise just celebrated its 25-year anniversary, maintaining a very long history with the PlayStation format across that entire timespan. Despite being published by the often-demonized Electronic Arts, it’s also sustained a robust and appreciative fanbase, even as the publisher began passing the torch to Ghost Games for future installments. That attitude started to shift with their recent reboot of Need for Speed, an online sandbox racer praised for its aesthetics and controls while heavily criticized for just about everything else, and reaches a head with Payback.
While Ghost Games corrects a big mistake by allowing players to stay offline with the campaign this time around, critics have been brutal towards the quality of the scripting and the action-movie design propelling the three main characters through a fictionalized take on Las Vegas. And that’s just on the story front, as nearly everything but the car selection, graphics and controls have been viewed as something of a wreck by frequent players of the franchise.