This week's highs and lows in PC gaming

HyperLightDrifter 2016-03-30 14-25-10-93

The Highs

Tim Clark: High on Light
I was super high when I played Hyper Light Drifter yesterday, and very nice it was too. I’ve been given some rhino-strength pain meds following a medical procedure involving a camera so heinous that I’ll spare you any further elucidation. (No, not there, there.) So, whilst working from home, I decided to dip into heart Machine’s 8-bit-styled smushing of Zelda and Dark Souls. I mention the latter game specifically because Andy didn’t in his excellent review, largely because he’s sick of people reflexively comparing games that are tough and have swords to Dark Souls.

But, well... It is quite a lot like Dark Souls. Or at least what I understand Dark Souls to be from watching my colleagues play it. I’m one of those babies who tries them each time and then bails after an hour or so. But I’ve sunk about six hours into Hyper Light Drifter thus far, and am acclimating to its chilly sternness quite nicely. The first boss I faced (in the West) took around 20 goes to beat. At first it seemed utterly impossible and unfair, then the pattern became clear and it just seemed really hard. Finally, through repetition, concentration, and most crucially not being too greedy with my damage, the boss fell almost easily.

That’s at least how I imagine Dark Souls works when you know what you’re doing, (James has been reviewing the new one next to me this week), and the sense of exhilaration was very much real. Andy’s review is right, though. The bosses seem like they’re going to be very divisive difficulty spikes. I hope I have the mental fortitude to tough them out, because it’s such a wonderful world to be in. Perhaps the painkillers will see me through.

Samuel Roberts: TimeSplitters on PC!
Kind of, anyway. One cool thing buried in Homefront’s slightly promising-looking sequel The Revolution is a couple of levels from excellent console FPS TimeSplitters 2, which never made it to PC back in the day for reasons I’m not aware of.

The good news is, while this isn’t the full game including its excellent splitscreen multiplayer, the first two levels encompass the Siberian dam level, itself an obvious homage to GoldenEye 007 on N64. That’s a fine extra for a game that maybe isn’t on everyone’s radar right now, and hopefully the first step to the TimeSplitters games making the journey to PC officially.

Evan Lahti: Stick time
The release of Rogue Squadron on Steam times perfectly with my newfound addiction to X-Wing Miniatures. I’ve started playing this tabletop game more seriously with some folks in our office and it’s been a delight. X-Wing has the perfect amount of complexity for me: physical awareness, planning, and what ships you bring to battle matters, but the game’s rules feel grounded in physical logic. It’s great to be able to knock out a duel in an hour. The experience of losing and instantly going back to the garage to tinker with your build to look for new opportunities for synergy or efficiency reminds me of MechWarrior.

We shot a video about X-Wing and some other recommended tabletop games for PC gamers last year.

Angus Morrison: Escalating quickly
After a few previews, I was a tentative believer that Hitman’s sweeping Paris level had enough scope to keep us occupied before the next one came along in a month, supplemented with the occasional Elusive Target or Escalation. It turns out Io has a sadistic streak, because it’s releasing so many new contracts I can’t keep up.

Despite having pushed the release of the first time-limited Elusive Target further into April, Io has compensated by releasing two Escalations each week, in which a simple hit gets progressively more challenging. I’ve five-starred The Snorrasson Ascension that shipped with the first episode, dabbled in The Mandelbulb Requiem and The Holmwood Disturbance that came next, and there’s still four left to try. I’ve only just discovered the Vampire Magician disguise, which is lucky seeing as there’s now a Vampire Magician Challenge Pack too.

Major bugfixes have also arrived, including a fix for the scoring to make it, er, work, and all of this points to Io being able to pull off what it calls ‘a live game’. Do I wish Hitman had launched in a better state? For sure. Will it eventually end up as a landmark assassin sim? It just might.

Everybody's gone to the rapture Slide

Tom Senior: Rapturous
PlayStation 4 players have already been to the rapture. It’s a lovely place, full of cottages and regional British accents, and I’m looking forward to seeing every beautifully rendered bus stop again on PC.

The slow pace and radio play plotting may be off-putting to some, but Everybody’s Gone To The Rapture is a wonderful audiovisual treat. I can’t wait to bask in the late afternoon sun outside the church and listen to the game’s extraordinary soundtrack. The fact I could just walk out of this office into Bath and beyond to get the same experience doesn’t matter. Even small details, like a scribble of graffiti on a park bench, seem more novel in a game world, and few game worlds are as painstakingly realised as Yaughton, Shropshire, Raptureville UK.

Chris Livingston: Motion Slickness
I finally got some real time with VR this week! Adr1ft, Eve Valkyrie, Lucky's Tale, and a few other games. While I'm still not entirely sold on VR becoming mainstream—after about 20 minutes in any game, I feel like the novelty has worn off and I'm done with it—I am very pleased to find that, so far at least, VR doesn't make me motion sick. I sometimes do feel a slight bit of discomfort, usually the first couple times I roll side-to-side, but it passes quickly and doesn't return.

Part of it may be that I simply don't find VR terribly convincing. It's very cool, but nothing I've played has really fooled me into feeling like I've been transported into another world. Still, I'm pleased that I can handle the experience without feeling like I'm going to barf. I know that's not true of everyone, so I feel pretty lucky. I still have my doubts about VR, but at least it doesn't make me toss my cookies.


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