Fraser Brown: Residential area
With Resident Evil 2 Remake around the corner and everyone getting their hands on the demo, the office has been full of chat about Raccoon City’s zombie problem, and I don’t think I’ve seen this much enthusiasm about a remake in ages. As much as I like the original, it wasn’t really on my radar—I barely have time for all the brand new games—but this last week has seen me get swept up by the excitement.
It helps that this is a full-on remake rather than an HD remaster, so the appeal isn’t just that it’s a nostalgic trip down memory lane; it’s something new, too. I’m a bit jealous of all the first-timers, though, as they’ll be in for plenty of surprises and scares. Not that my memories of 1998 are all that clear. I recall puberty being a big thing.
Phil Savage: On the Horizon
It's a Forza Horizon 4 double bill from me this week, as I recently returned to play its first expansion and I have some thoughts. Scant few of them are about the expansion itself. The new map is fine, if a bit pedestrian—pun intended—compared to FH3's Hot Wheels DLC. Really, though, I've just been enjoying getting back into the swing of the game, and especially its weekly challenges.
This week's #FORZATHON—sigh—challenge asked players to win races in the thoroughly unremarkable Volvo 850 R, a boxy estate car from the '90s. This is no easy task. As part of the retro saloon category, the 850 R ends up competing with much faster and more manoeuvrable BMWs and Audis. Luckily, Horizon lets you apply custom tune-ups created by the community. Suddenly my boring, grey Volvo is more than adequate for the competition, and a genuinely entertaining drive to boot. For all the fun of tearing through the countryside in an X-class monster, I love pootling about virtual Britain in a scrappy underdog. The weekly challenges are a great way to explore the slower end of your garage.
Chris Livingston: Cook, Serve, Disastrous!
I'm thoroughly enjoying the demo of Cooking Simulator, which casts you as a harried chef in a restaurant kitchen. There isn't a full roster of recipes in the demo but I've made pork chops with baked potatoes, salmon with boiled potatoes, and lots and lots of tomato soup. The time limit on making each meal is pretty oppressive, which results in me rushing which results in me dropping things which results in a lot of my diners eating undercooked meals that have spent some time on the floor. But there's a sandbox mode where you can take your time when the clock-watching gets to be too much.
Cooking Simulator feels like a natural fit for VR, so I hope someday it'll get the virtual reality treatment. In the meantime, it's good sloppy fun. A March release is planned.
Samuel Roberts: The early 2019 rush
These are the games I will play before January 2019 is out: Sunless Skies, Resident Evil 2 Remake, At The Gates. That's a pretty good tally considering we have only 13 days left of what's normally a fallow month, and in February, well, all the games are coming out. A lot of them on the same day, as Evan pointed out this week. This rules, if you ask me. Although it does mean I'm probably about to say goodbye to all of 2018's games by necessity, now.
I was complaining about the lack of great blockbusters on PC in 2018, but in 2019 I don't think I'm going to have that problem based on the start of this year. The second half is oddly mysterious, though: Jedi: Fallen Order and an inevitable Call of Duty aside, what else are publishers keeping up their sleeves? Is this finally the year we see Borderlands 3?
James Davenport: In love
Catherine is on PC! I remember thinking it was a game for creepy anime sex fiends when it first came out in 2011, but now I'm older, wiser, and no longer a kink-shamer. Besides, Catherine isn't just provocative images wrapped around a block puzzle game. It's my GOTY 2019. So far. I haven't played anything else, to be fair, but I don't think I've played a game this silly and imaginative and blunt about what it's like to be a sad idiot adult male.
Catherine is an ambiguous horror story about the lengths to which guys will go to protect their ego, and at times it can be difficult to play such a tool. You're forced to live the life of a man cheating on his longtime partner and nothing you do can really change that (as far as I know). Walking this person through nightmarish (block puzzle) projections of his guilt as he slowly comes to terms with the fact that he just might be a lying jerk is agonizing and hilarious and surprisingly real. I mean, I'm not exempt here. I've felt and thought a lot of the same things Vincent does. I just learned to be vulnerable, and I sure hope he does. So far, it's been a fascinating interrogation of the male ego and how it grinds against outdated gender roles and the changing nature of relationships. More games about sad, stupid adults like this, please!
Tyler Wilde: Clean slate
There has been a surplus of discourse around tidying lately, and if I were truly going to declutter, I’d Eternal Sunshine every tweet I’ve ever read out of my brain. But since my brain is already so internet saturated that I’m using a so-so Michel Gondry film as a verb, I should probably just take the unasked for advice and clean the hell up. I am not a tidy person, but thanks to being very impressionable, I’m suddenly looking forward to reorganizing my crap this weekend. Being bombarded by images of a pleasantly calm Marie Kondo has apparently had its effect on me, and maybe by Monday I’ll be able to reach for my controller to play Rocket League without knocking over six things that do not spark joy (though do any of them?).