Malindy Hetfeld has been playing Night Call (opens in new tab), which casts you as a taxi driver picking up passengers then grilling them for clues to hunt down a serial killer. It reminds me of the way a lot of old film noir was about people other than detectives who got caught up in crime—Double Indemnity is about an insurance salesman, The Third Man a writer of cowboy novels—and I could see a taxi driver making for a good one of those. I'm not sure Night Call is that game, but fortunately there's a burgeoning genre of taxi cab confessionals now. Maybe I'll pick up the next one.
James Davenport has been playing Woodwork Simulator (opens in new tab). I see the appeal of games like this and PC Building Simulator—you get to experiment with making something but without any of the consequence. Doesn't matter if you break it, they're just pixels. And I suspect there's something satisfying about the actions themselves akin to those weird Instagram videos of people cutting soap (opens in new tab) or pushing slime, which are super popular. Some people are just wired to enjoy watching texture and contrast at play, I guess. (I will never understand the pimple-popping videos, though.)
Evan Lahti has been playing Dustnet (opens in new tab), a wireframe recreation of Counter-Strike's iconic map in a hypothetical future where the last version of de_dust2 must be preserved by being played. What makes it really strange is that VR players are there with you, but they appear as godlike disembodied hands. Watching Evan's little skeleton player interact with them is an odd time. You can even load Dustnet up on your phone, then AR that map onto your coffee table or whatever. It's a wild concept.
Phil Savage had a go at Empire of Sin (opens in new tab), the forthcoming 1920s gangster sim from Romero Games. It sounds like Boardwalk Empire as a squad tactics games—XCOM with tommy guns—which is a solid idea. A strategy layer where you take over the city's businesses and a tactics layer where you shoot up uncooperative speakeasies with a cigar hanging out of your mouth, I'm down for that.
I've been playing Rebel Galaxy, the indie homage to games like Elite and Wing Commander: Privateer from 2015. It obviously had to cut some corners, what with being made by two people and some contractors, so you get space combat as two-dimensional naval battles where you can only turn left and right while launching batteries of tachyon guns like you're firing cannon at a frigate off the Spanish Main. It's not 100% what I want from the genre but it financed the forthcoming sequel Rebel Galaxy Outlaw (opens in new tab), which looks like my cup of 3D space jet nonsense.
Enough about us. What about you, dear readers? Did anyone grab the excellent Prey (opens in new tab) while it was on sale? Have you tried the Early Access version of board game adaptation Gloomhaven (opens in new tab)? Have the VR crew been playing Gorn (opens in new tab)? Let us know!