Category Archives: Games

After having got back into Playstation gaming, I am exploring more games than ever before. Anything from Rocket League to Outlast – I’ll give most things a try.

I will also be starting to regularly stream some games very soon. More info on that as it happens. Thanks.

Statik on PlayStation VR

Statik on Playstation VR

Statik is one hell of a fun game to play. Lasting only a couple of hours, depending on whether you solve the puzzles of course, this game never got boring. Despite the fact that you spend the entire time with your hands locked in a box.

Locked in a box

Your hands are locked in a box within its VR world for the whole game, whilst in reality you take a hold of the standard PS4 controller. That controller is used in very inventive ways throughout the game to try and solve each puzzle.

Each level gives you a new puzzle to solve, which become increasingly tricky and mind-bending as they go on. Each button, whether it be the directional buttons; the shape buttons; triggers; or analogue sticks, will control individual parts of each box.

There are some puzzles that require you to hold the control bindings of a box in your mind all at once, with one particular box being on a timer. This gave me just the right level of stress to warrant fighting back against being put back a step or two.

It’s not just a box

A lot of the game must actually be solved by using the environment around you. Parts of the room and certain objects around will very subtle guide you through the cryptic puzzles. I found myself at times just dumb-founded without a clue on how to solve something. Until I would make a really clever connection between my box and something around me and I’d end up with a great big grin on my face.

My personal favourite was taking control of a small remote control camera buggy. As you move around to otherwise-inaccessible areas to solve its particular puzzle, you get live feedback to your box. It felt so trippy to be inside a VR game controlling a remote control car that can show you a live feedback of yourself in that chair.

So frickin cool.

A quick game that feels just right

Even though each game involves you solving a different box that has your hands locked within, the game never felt repetitive. Each puzzle was so different from one another that I ended up feeling like I’d been on a real test of the mind to get to the very end.

I completed the game in about two to three hours and that felt just right to me. I’d had my fill of that particular world, but could probably have played just one more level.

I guess that’s one of the marks of a really good game – leaving the player wanting just that little bit more.

In Summary

If you want a challenging mind-bender of a game with truly ingenious uses of what the PlayStation VR can do, please do check out Statik. This game was a random recommend on a list of “best PlayStation VR titles” I stumbled across, and I’m so glad I picked it up on the PlayStation store.

 

Life is Strange: Before the storm episode 3 (Hell is Empty)

It doesn’t seem like too long ago since Life is Strange Before the Storm was first announced. Now here I am writing up my thoughts on it’s heart-felt, bittersweet conclusion.

In this final episode we follow Chloe as she works to uncover the truth, and whereabouts, of Rachel Amber’s birth mother. As she does so, she manages to uncover some dark truths about certain characters. As we’ve learnt from previous events in this game, most things can’t simply come down to just good or bad; right or wrong. It tends to be dependant on a given character’s perspective.

I’m a little sad that this game has come to its end. However, we do still have the bonus episode with Max and Chloe to look forward to early in the new year.

Everyone has good and bad

Rachel Amber and Chloe Price
Rachel Amber and Chloe Price

Life Is Strange Before the Storm is a game that is great at showing how all people have both good and bad sides. All the characters here are as fully fleshed out as we have come to expect in Arcadia Bay. We’ve seen Chloe do bad things and let people get hurt – but for her love of Rachel. We’ve seen David and his militarist approach to parenting – but then in episode 3 we actually see him soften somewhat to meet Chloe on a middle ground.

But the characters I found perhaps most interesting in forms of their actions and moral compasses, are Rachel’s (birth) mother and father.

Rachel’s father goes through many different guises through Chloe’s eyes as the more she uncovers, the more she learns of his actions and motives – motives that are perhaps ill-advised at times. Meanwhile her Mother, who is initially painted as the bad guy, gets a chance to speak for herself later on. She is a woman who has made mistakes, sure, but who is now willing to give up everything for what she feels is right.

Rachel Amber and Chloe Price photos
Rachel and Chloe posing for photos

You will have a hard choice to make at the end of this episode, which will hinge on whether you want to do what’s right, or what’s good.

The world of Life Is Strange is well known now for its ability to show us fully fleshed-out characters. People who at first appear one way, but later – after the peeling back of layers – show us that there is so much more beneath. In good ways and bad. Before the Storm has continued this tradition with flying colours.

So much more than a prequel

Life Is Strange Before The Storm is just as good, sometimes even better in my opinion, than its predecessor. The focus in on Chloe and Rachel’s blossoming relationship has been an absolute joy to watch. I think now, after seeing their meeting and subsequent story together, that playing through the original game will be a fresh experience. Rachel is no longer just a face on a missing persons poster. Rachel is a complex young woman whose very presence seemed to bring out the best in people – not least of all Chloe Price.

Chloe investigating Frank's trailer
Chloe investigating Frank’s trailer

What impressed me also about the developer’s approach to this story, is that it is not just a prequel that is heading towards what we know comes later. These three episodes are completely self-contained and serve their own narrative, which is done extremely well. I love how there is still enough time between the end of this game and the beginning of the original. Maybe we will see some more stories in the near future?

P.S. Stick around till after the credits

Make sure you stick around till the end of the credits on this one. Where in previous episodes there would have been the next trailer, we are instead shown something entirely different. Something that still makes my skin crawl now, just thinking about it.

Damn you Deck Nine!

Rise of the Tomb Raider Blood Ties on PSVR

Rise of the Tomb Raider Blood Ties on PSVR

Rise of the Tomb Raider Blood Ties came with the base game as part of the Tomb Raider 20 year celebration. I have previous written about my love for Rise of the Tomb Raider. However, I was not prepared for just how amazing the Blood Ties DLC would be in PlayStation VR.

The same blood ties story

Blood Ties on PlayStation VR is the same story as the normal version. The only difference is that you get to see through the eyes of Lara Croft in the fully immersive environment of Croft Manor. And wow – what a difference it makes. I loved the DLC as it was – I had bought it originally on Steam and played it straight through. But my first job with any new console is always to buy a Tomb Raider game. So with my PlayStation 4 Pro, I bought Rise of the Tomb Raider 20th year celebration.

Lara Croft in Croft Manor
Lara Croft in Croft Manor

The story line has you exploring the manor in order to find her father’s will. Her uncle, Atlas, claims ownership over the manor and so Ms Croft must uncover the will in order to save it. The insights into Lara’s past are interesting as you explore the various areas of the manor. I particularly found the mention of locking the butler, Winston, in the fridge particularly funny. This was a reference to the popular past time for many players of both Tomb Raider 2 and 3.

Also worth mentioning is the gramophone that you can turn on in the library. This will then trigger the playing of the popular Venice theme from Tomb Raider 2. Written by the hugely talented Nathan McCree.

You can taste the rain

Standing in the main foyer of Croft Manor is still one of my favourite things to do on PlayStation VR. Looking around at the beautiful architecture then up to the hole in the vaulted ceiling, I could almost taste the rain coming in. Just standing atop of the bookcases, looking down at the library, just fills me with awe at what the game developers have achieved with this DLC.

The story will take you to all the corners of the manor. Each and every nook and cranny pulled me in for closer inspection. The most atmospheric area for me was the cellar. Not only was the use of the PlayStation controller to control the flashlight highly effective, but I could feel Lara’s trepidation exploring these lower regions of the manor. If I didn’t already know what happens in this DLC, I’d have been scared walking around down there.

Rise of the Tomb Raider Blood Ties Library
Rise of the Tomb Raider Blood Ties Library

Levels of comfort

Like with many of the PlayStation VR releases, there are different levels of comfort available when playing through Blood Ties. The big one is the two options of movement. You can either use the teleport function, which is enabled by default, or use the free roaming option.

Teleport

Using the teleport option allows you to use the controller to gesture on screen where you want Lara to jump to. She doesn’t physically jump there, but there is a smooth use of a fade between the start and end point. If you are worried about motion sickness then this is the best option for you.

Free roaming

Free roaming is just as it sounds – free walking about the manor in the first-person perspective. This is so awesome to experience, however, I did begin to get motion sickness when I would turn one way whilst glancing around another. It was a similar feeling to when I would read a book in a moving car when I was a child. It is definitely worth trying out this option for a short time though – or longer if you can handle it.

In Summary

Rise of the Tomb Raider Blood Ties is absolutely effing incredible in PlayStation VR. In fact, it was incredible anyway – the VR aspect just enhances it to the nth degree. There really is no feeling like being Lara Croft for a while, wandering around the derelict halls uncovering her family story.

I am really looking forward to the next Tomb Raider game that was just announced. I am praying that the developers come up with even more exciting and awe-inspiring ways of incorporating the PlayStation VR experience into Lara’s world in her next adventure.

Dead by Daylight - The Survival Instinct

Dead by Daylight – The Survival Instinct

What is Dead By Daylight about?

Dead By Daylight is a 4 versus 1 multiplayer game that sets one killer against four would-be survivors. You make the choice as to whether you want to kill or try to survive, after which you are placed in a match group to begin. The killer spends the match hunting down the survivors and trying to impale them on one of the many hooks around the game area. The survivors must avoid and outsmart the killer as they repair generators dotted about the map. Once five generators have been fixed, they can then open the exit and escape.

This article will focus on the surviving aspect of the game as this is my personal favourite.

Survive the night – anatomy of a survivor’s match

As one of four survivors, you will be placed in a random place in the randomly generated game area. The game area is pretty big, but it never ceases to feel claustrophobic. You are all locked within this area and must power up five generators in order to give power to the exit gates.

Generators are easily spotted as they have tall poles with broken lights at the top. Fixing the generators is done by holding R1 for what will seem like forever. However, every few seconds or so you may trigger a random skill check. A skill check is a small quick time event where you must hit L1 at the right time as a pointer moves around an on-screen dial. A small portion of that dial is highlighted and you must tap L1 when the pointer passes through it. Failing this will cause a bang, alerting the Killer to your whereabouts. Succeeding will give you bonus blood points.

Once all five generators are fixed the exit gates will be given power. You must then get to one of the gates and hold R1 at the gate switch in order open it. There are no skill checks for the exit gate but the gate does make one hell of a noise. One of the most excruciating experiences in Dead By Daylight is when you get to the exit gate, are half way through opening it, and all of a sudden the killer’s heartbeat begins beating loudly in your ears.

Falling victim to the Trapper
Falling victim to the Trapper

You are always rewarded for your actions

Generator in Dead By Daylight
Generators in Dead By Daylight can be hard to see for the untrained eye.

Even if you killed, you will still be rewarded blood points for all of your actions in the match. Of course you will get more for surviving, but pretty much every action you perform in the game will reward you with progression points.

You are given blood points for many actions throughout each match:

  • Repairing generators.
  • Correctly hitting the skill checks.
  • Healing your team mates.
  • Reuniting with you team mates across the game area.
  • escaping the killer’s terror radius after being in it (You will hear the killer’s heart beat when you are within it).
  • Keeping yourself alive when impaled on a hook.
The Bloodweb
The Bloodweb allows you to spend blood points for your character’s progression.

These blood points can then be spent on the game’s progression table. This table, known as the Bloodweb, is where you choose which items and skills to purchase for your character. Once the Bloodweb is finished you will advance to the next level. In later levels you wont be able to buy all items on the Bloodweb. Instead something called the entity will take one away with each of your choices. So your Bloodweb choices become more strategic later on.

It’s all about tactics

If the killer spots you and you simply try and outrun him / her, you’re going to die. What you need to learn instead, is how to use the environment to your advantage. Granted, this will take some time and learning the hard way, but there are certain things to know to try and maximise your life expectancy.

Firstly, crouching is king for me. I never stand out in the open – only when I’m behind a tree and even then I’ll probably be crouching. This just means there is less of you to be seen by the killer. Also worth remembering is that survivors play from a 3rd person perspective – so you can peek around corners and over walls without stepping out. The killer, however, has a 1st person perspective – so they are limited to what is directly in front of them. There have been many times when the killer has walked right past me with nothing between us and simply not seen me. Oh – and I was crouching too.

Meg walking lightly on Coldwind Farm
Meg walking lightly on Coldwind Farm

Also keep the noise down. Sprinting and vaulting through windows fast will make noise that the killer can hear. Try to only sprint when you know the killer is far away from you. Lockers are also spread around the map that you can hide in. Be advised though – lockers can be searched and there’s no escape if the killer pulls you out. Be careful not to stay in the same place too long as well. If you decide to remain still, crows will start circling above your head again helping to point out your location to the killer.

There are a couple of ways to defend yourself if you find your self being pursued. Flashlights can be taken into the game and even found in chests hidden on the map. These flashlights can be used to shine into the killer’s face and stun them. I have found this a bit hit and miss for me. However, when I play as Killer, works really well against me – I guess it comes down to practice like all things in this game. You can also pull down wooden pallets as you run past them to block the killer behind you, and potentially stun them. The killer will have to either find another way around to you, allowing you more time to hide; or break it up, which will take precious time for him / her.

In Summary

When I first started playing this game on Steam I was so scared being a survivor. The close-quarter nature of the game and the array of blind corners through out, coupled with no knowledge of the game’s mechanics, made for a terrifying experience. However, I find it to be more and more fun with each match, now that I have gotten used to the game.

I actually re-bought the game on PS4 and now find it even more fun. My tactic is pretty much crouch everywhere and holding L2 is a hell of a lot more comfortable than holding the shift key with my little finger.

The scares never really go away, but they were definitely reduced for me to a more comfortable playing level as time went on.

Resident Evil Kitchen Demo on PSVR

Resident Evil Kitchen Demo on PSVR

The Resident Evil Kitchen Demo is a little taster that Capcom put out around the release of Resident Evil 7. It shows off, in its short five minutes of game play, the pure horror potential for Playstation VR, and indeed VR in general.

What happens in the Resident Evil Kitchen Demo?

You spend the entirety of the demo strapped to an old wooden chair in a completely run-down kitchen. The Kitchen gave me similar vibes to the Peacock house from the infamous X-Files episode, ‘Home’. Just sitting there in the chair, both my real-life chair and the in-game chair, looking down at my bound-hands, I was already bricking it.

It felt very much like the start of the original saw film too, in that I had essentially woken up with no recollection of how I got there.

X Files Episode Home
The Peacock’s house from The X Files Episode ‘Home’

Once you figure out how to wake your friend up off the floor, he slowly gets up and tries to untie you. This is where my first palpable fears manifested. Behind him, moving in the shadows of the corridor, I could see a figure. A figure that no sooner had I said aloud ‘behind you!’, was already upon him.

Looking directly into the face of the hideous visage of a woman, who looked somewhat decayed and possessed, was a feeling like no other. In VR you can look around her head at the mangled locks of hair; the saliva in her teeth; the killing gleam in her eyes, staring directly into yours.

This is what horror really is

Horror games are always fun to me in retrospect. At the time of playing I experience what the game developers must strive for – prolonged anxiety and a fear to move onward through the game. But there really is no feeling like that of the release of tension after a well-timed, tasteful jump scare. And I have the feeling Resident Evil 7 will have those in spades.

Seeing the twisted and zombie-looking woman up close in my face actually got me turning my head away. I knew, somewhere in my mind, that this was just a game. But that held truth was buried beneath the many layers of fear from this demo. The level of immersion here is unreal and this has somehow awoken a level of computer game experience that I never even knew existed.

On to the full game

As soon as I finished the Kitchen Demo I was online shopping for the full game. I kick myself now for not picking it up in the PlayStation Store sale a few months back. As I type this sentence I am awaiting a confirmation email to come through for me to collect the game.

I have no idea how I’m going to survive this game. Outlast feels like a walk in the park now, compared to this. (It’s not – Outlast is still very scary, but Resident Evil 7 just has a whole new dimension – literally and figuratively).

p.s. I have since bought the game and have played the first hour. It has not disappointed me and I can not wait to write up my thoughts on it in full.

Fortnite Battle Royale

Fortnite Battle Royale review

What is a “Battle Royale” game?

Battle Royale refers to a particular style of game where every player is trying to kill all other players. It is a last person standing all-out war. Typically, all players will land on different places across a large island and hurry to find weapons and survive longer than all other players.

Battle Royale style games have become popular recently with H1Z1 and more recently Playerunknown’s Battlegrounds. And now we have Fortnite Battle Royale, which has enough of its own unique selling points to warrant it being accepted amongst the others.

What makes Fortnite Battle Royale stand out amongst similar games?

Fortnite Wooden Tower
Fortnite Wooden Tower – great sniping position.

Firstly, pretty much the whole of the map is destructible, except for the ground you walk on. You start each game with a huge pickaxe, with which you are able to break things down to their base parts. For example, buildings and trees can be chopped away into blocks of wood, walls can be smashed into bricks, and storage containers can be broken into metal. But what to do with these materials? Well, that leads me on to my next unique point.

Anywhere across the island, you are able to use any building materials you gather to build your own structures. These structures can give you an edge in a firefight, shielding you from enemy fire. They can also help you get up to higher places, such as building lofts, where higher grade weapons could be hiding.

A welcome difference for me with this game was its ease of learning. All weapons that are scattered across the map are standalone, meaning you don’t need to faff around finding addons. The weapons increase in power as their colours go from weakest to strongest: Gray, Green, Blue, Purple and Orange. So if you spot a weapon that is a higher grade color to your own, grab it! Also there is no scavenging for different tiers of armour – you can find armour potions that will give extra protection once drank, but that’s about it.

Fortnite looks beautiful

Fortnite is such an attractive game to watch. It’s bubbly, colourful characters and surroundings act as a gorgeous veneer to hide what is still a brutal and intense game. When I first saw its visual style I couldn’t help but think that Disney had made a game.

Gliding down on to the Fortnite Battle Royale island
Gliding down on to the Fortnite Battle Royale island

All of the locations are gorgeous to walk around and explore too. The areas aren’t too big or too small, they feel just right with a comfortable distance between them. From the dark and gloomy ‘Wailing Woods’ to the open space ‘Loot Lake’ in the centre of the map, each area has it’s own feel to it. My personal favourite is the ‘Lonely Lodge’ on the east coast and its nearby watch tower – a great sniping position.

Everything down to the finer details impressed me in this game. Like even how the health points pop up on an enemy to display how much damage you’ve done. Or the animations when someone is killed and their loot bounces out of them. It’s just all so playful and fun.

Anatomy of each game

Once the game’s home screen is loaded up, it has been taking me an average of around thirty seconds to a minute to begin a match. Sometimes even quicker. After the few moments in the holding area while the server fills with players, you are immediately taken to the hot-air balloon powered battle bus over the island. This flying bus is everyone’s starting position as it flies over the battleground island from one side to the other. At any point whilst going over the island you are able to jump out and free-fall down to the surface.

Fortnite Battle Royale map
Fortnite Battle Royale map – The storm closes in.

Once you land on the surface you must first find a weapon to defend yourself with. Weapons come in a variety of classes, which are grouped together by colour. Not only weapons, but you can also collect armour potions, traps and medikits for self-healing. But that’s about it. One of the beauties of this game, as mentioned before, is it’s simplicity. It makes the whole concept of surviving really enjoyable.

After a few moments of landing on the ground, a white circle appears on the game map to designate the next safe zone. You then have three minutes to get within that zone as the deep purple, violent storm approaches. If you remain in the storm clouds they will quickly zap down your health and you will soon die. The deadly storm continues to push all surviving players into the same ever-decreasing safe zone until there is only one player left standing.

In Summary

Fortnite is a super fun and addictive game to play. Each match is pretty quick, lasting a maximum of around fifteen minutes (if you last until the final few). This was also a lot more simple for me to get up to speed with than other Battle Royale games.

This game makes for a very enjoyable and attractive experience of survival. Fortnite Battle Royale is no less intense than similar games of its kind but in my honest opinion, its the one that is the most fun.

Here’s some of my own recorded gameplay to give you an idea of how it looks and feels:

Thoughts on Rise of the Tomb Raider

Thoughts on Rise of the Tomb Raider

Lara Croft is one of, if not my number one, favourite computer game character of all time. So I went into this game already loving it with a pretty strong bias. That being said, I can honestly say that Rise of the Tomb Raider is one of the best all-round games I’ve ever played.

What is Rise of the Tomb Raider about?

Lara Croft, slightly more battle-hardened from her time on Yamatai, is in pursuit of a lost artefact – The Divine Source. The secret to immortality is said to be contained within the artefact. The locals believe the Divine Source to be a fragment of God’s soul. It is something that her father searched for before his death.

Rise of the Tomb Raider Gulag Prison
Lara Croft passes through an old Gulag Prison

As in the 2013 Tomb Raider reboot, this game’s predecessor, the whole game is open for exploration. You are free to search the areas for any of the Hidden tombs that are scattered about. Interesting, and handy, character perks can be achieved when these are solved. However, that being said, some will require certain skills and/or equipment that aren’t acquired till later on in the game. You are free to explore these areas or just power through the main story and come back later.

Trinity are a group of mercenaries who are also looking for the Divine Source. A ruthless man named Konstantin leads them and, although his methods are shady, has good reasons for wanting to find it. These Trinity soldiers are the main antagonists that you’ll find yourself fighting through as you progress through the game.

Harsh and beautiful landscapes

The world of Rise of the Tomb Raider is just simply stunning. Around every corner of this game I found myself impressed with every level of the world’s details. The glistening water running down the inside walls of ancient crypts; sudden downpours of rain as I quietly made my way through the bushes in enemy camps. The tombs in this game seemed to have had a lot more thought put into them too. Not only were these environments gorgeous in the dim firelight, so too were they more elaborate than the previous Tomb Raider. I found myself taking more time to figure the puzzles out, and on larger scales too.

One of the first large areas you will come across, the Soviet Installation is as gorgeous as it is grim. It’s a large-scale Gulag from Stalin-era Russia which basically means it was a forced labour camp. The reality of what people in these camps, some only guilty of minor crimes, had to endure cannot be overstated. That being said, Rise of the Tomb Raider does an excellent job of emphasising the brutal horror of these places. I didn’t even know what a Gulag was until this game, where I then went and researched afterwards. That’s not to say that the game is depressing at all, it just presents its story on the backdrop of real history. A history that it is very faithful to.

The game does a great job at mixing open-world game play with the more claustrophobic environments. These tighter moments really do create tension in all the right places which is always paid off in the end. While there are a couple of annoying gun fights in this game, the fighting is done with such fluidity that it does become fun after a while.

Girl’s got skills

As with the previous game, you will earn XP and skill points that you can then use to learn new skills. Not only that but you can also find murals and monoliths across the world, which will increase your languages proficiency. Some monoliths will require a higher language level, which will then uncover hidden treasures and tomb entrances on the map.

The weapons too are all available to upgrade as in Tomb Raider (2013). This is done by salvaging parts from wooden crates as well as off the pelts of the mountain wildlife. You can then choose which weapons to upgrade first.

Lara chooses where to spend her skill points
Lara chooses where to spend her skill points

Scaling walls is pretty much the only key ability that remains from the first game. The scaling of rock faces is so much smoother and faster here too, partly due to the fact that she now has two pick axes. Later on in the game you’ll also acquire more interesting accessories that will allow you more spiderman-like qualities.

Lara Croft forever

Rise of the Tomb Raider does a great job at taking what its predecessor set up and elevating it to incredible new highs. Crystal Dynamics have done an amazing job at keeping Miss Croft alive, while making her more human in the process. I’m really looking forward to the next instalment in this series, which may be called Shadow of the Tomb Raider. But only time will tell if this is to be. If it is to be, and they keep on the same trajectory, then the next game is going to be insane.

Too alive - Thoughts on the game Outlast

Too alive – Thoughts on the game Outlast

Dark, disturbing and utterly terrifying. I don’t think I’ve been quite so scared playing a game than I have been with Outlast. It came to a point where being killed was a blessed relief from then suspended tension. Things were always going to get bad for our hero, I just didn’t foresee how bad things would get.

What is Outlast about?

In Outlast you play Miles Upshur, an investigative journalist who is looking for his story within the walls of the Mount Massive psychiatric hospital. He has been given a tip-off from a whistleblower within the Hospital about some shady goings on. It is here that you begin the story – parked up outside and looking for a way in. But of course It’s not long until things go pear-shaped and your quiet entrance becomes a frantic search for escape.

The game is played from the first-person perspective of Miles. Seeing it through his eyes really added to my emotional investment of it all. With all the lights turned off in my living room, the small shafts of light in-game were my only illumination.

Mount Massive Psychiatric Hospital
Welcome to the Mount Massive Psychiatric Hospital

The further through the hospital you advance, the more dark and twisted the story becomes. So too do the creatures searching for you in the dark become harder to best. Made excruciatingly difficult at times with the complete inability to fight back.

An inability to fight back.

One big aspect of Outlast, that sets it apart from most, is in its fighting mechanics… or complete lack thereof. It is impossible to fight back or even defend yourself in Outlast – all you can do is run, hide and try to sneak past whatever lurks in the darkness. This fundamental rule is what makes this game so unique in all the games I’ve played. Other horror games, like Silent Hill and Resident Evil, allow you to collect weapons and ammo in order to at least try and fight back. However, in Outlast, you must use only your wits, and more often than not your cowardice, to survive.

Outlast Morgue
Outlast is not for the faint of heart

Throughout the halls of the quickly-deteriorating hospital, you’ll find all manner of places to hide. Under beds; behind up-turned mattresses; toilet cubicles; lockers. One time I even found myself staring directly at my enemy, only under the cover of the pitch black. These hiding places aren’t guaranteed sanctuary though, as those hunting you won’t think twice about tearing a door from a locker or searching under beds.

Because of the zero fighting, all of the controls you play with are geared towards your movements. Whether it be glancing behind you as you sprint away from a pursuer, peering round a dimly-lit corner, or creaking a door open as slowly as you can. Opening a door is actually one of the initial things that got me so immersed in the game. You have the option of just opening the door normally, which results in a thud, or holding down the button and easing forward with the controller’s analogue stick.

Utterly Terrifying

Richard Trager
Dat ass though – Richard Trager makes preparations

No game has made me so consistently scared of playing it than Outlast did. There was never a moment when I felt any degree of safety, with every room and corridor serving only to raise my fear and anxiety levels. The amount of times I went into it saying “it’s only a game – if I die I can just try again.” was many. But I simply couldn’t disengage from the game on an emotional level. In times between playing it I’m sure part of me staying there – trapped inside the hospital with Miles.

With the game being split into chapters, I found myself unwilling to play past more than one at a time. The constant state of tension really took its toll on me after a while. Although saying that I did do the last three chapters in one sitting, which I’m actually pretty proud of.

I’ve talked about the darkness and the things that lurk within, as well as your complete lack of defences. But fear not, for you do have one item by your side throughout your time at Mount Massive that may just save your life – your video camera.

Just a man and his camera

Chris Walker hunts you in the dark
Chris Walker hunts you in the dark

Your only accessory that you take with you on your journey is a digital camera with its night vision mode. This camera is your only friend in the dark, often pitch black, hallways you find yourself exploring. I found myself, at least half of the time I was playing, with the camera up to my face – night vision turned on. One memory that sticks with me is being trapped in a prison area, all prison cells opened, with a huge bulking creature searching for me. Using the camera to search the blackness was the only thing that got me out of there.

But the camera’s battery won’t last forever, which is why you should always be keeping an eye open for the game’s only consumable items – extra batteries. The game doesn’t really make the prospect of exploring every nook and cranny inviting. But I strongly advise you to look around for those batteries. Luckily I never ran out of them but there were many times when I came damn close.

As well as batteries you’ll also come across numerous documents, which shed some light on the history of the hospital and what went on before your arrival. These are an interesting read if you want to deepen your understanding. If not, just run.

Not for the faint hearted

If you are of a nervous disposition you will NOT want to play this game. I’m not easily spooked but this game had me in a constant state of anxiety. Sometimes to be caught and have your heart ripped out is a nice way to break that tension… sometimes. All in all I really enjoyed this game, but it’s a game that look back at with enjoyment – when I was experiencing it I was petrified.

It’s for this reason that I can’t decide whether I want to play the Whistleblower DLC and the recently-released sequel. I mean I want to… but do I really want to?

Don’t say you haven’t been warned.

Life is Strange: Before the storm episode 2 (Brave New World)

Life is Strange: Before the storm episode 2 (Brave New World)

Following on from, and topping, a previous instalment of Life Is Strange is always a mean feat to accomplish. However, as with all times previously, the creators have done it again with Before the Storm episode 2.

Chloe’s path is cracking

In the opening of episode 1, Chloe Price was still pretty innocent – albeit sneaking out to secret gigs and smoking the odd bit of weed. So it was interesting to see how she is starting to walk that bad path we know her for during episode 2. Through dealing with Frank Bowers and ultimately breaking and entering a student’s dorm room for him, Chloe’s path starts to crack as it leads her forward into her not too distant future.

The choices I found myself making with Chloe had devastating effects on other characters too. In fact I found myself asking “What do I think Chloe would do?” as opposed to “What would I do?”. I was only interested in trying to secure the future Rachel and Chloe want together, and I was willing to let others hurt for it.

The relationship deepens

Rachel Amber as Prospera in The Tempest
Rachel Amber as Prospera in The Tempest

The episodes of the game are each set within one full day, so time is limited in developing such a close bond. But for me the creators do this with ease through such great use of the scenes that play out. Every interaction, each word spoken, serves to at the very least weave these two characters even closer together.

Chloe’s and Rachel’s relationship is taken to a whole other level through what is perhaps one of the most beautiful scenes I have ever watched in a game. The scene in question involves the reenactment of Shakespeare’s The Tempest and truly had me close to tears experiencing it.

Kylie Brown and Rhianna DeVries, who play Rachel and Chloe respectively, absolutely nail their performance throughout this game. A lot of different people go into the making of Life is Strange: Before the Storm – into what makes it great. However, I feel that Kylie and Rhianna carry much of the emotional weight of the story and do so with such grace using their voices alone.

An ending that takes your breath

Emotional, cliff-hanger endings are pretty much par for the course in Arcadia Bay. And I’m happy to say episode 2 delivers as I would expect. The only thing with this, is that it is such a great ending that I really don’t want to wait another two months or so for it.

Chloe having dinner with the Amber family
Chloe having dinner with the Amber family

During what could well be one of the most uncomfortable dinners of either Rachel or Chloe’s life, the cliffhanger ending is revealed and left me completely slack-jawed yet again.

With episode 1 I felt like I needed a break after the explosive ending that occurred. But with episode 2, with it’s revelation right at the end, it only made me want to immediately know more.

A raging fire

Perhaps what I find most moving of all, is related to the fact that we know the ultimate destinies of these characters. This is why I find it very hard to hate David; and why I can’t feel too sorry for Nathan when his Dad is giving him grief. But most of all, it’s why I can’t help feeling almost heart-broken when Rachel and Chloe confess their feelings; their future plans; and share their first kiss. Much like Laura Palmer in Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me, these girls’ relationship is a raging fire close to being snuffed out.

The Last of Us review

The Last of Us review

The Last of Us was released in 2013, yet i didn’t get to play it till three years later. But when I did, it quickly became one of my top three games of all time. Its whole world and the characters within have somehow become a part of me. Joel and Ellie have become two of the most important characters in my life.

What’s The Last of Us about?

After one of the most emotional game intros I’ve ever experienced, we are placed with our hero, Joel, twenty years into a Post-apocalyptic world. Early on in the game you are entrusted to look after 14-year-old girl, Ellie. This is where it all begins – one of the most important relationships in gaming history starts right here. You are tasked with getting her safely to a group called ‘The Fireflies’, the reasons for which I wont reveal here, and of course it’s not simply a case of walking from A to B.

Once Ellie is with you, she will follow you wherever you go and you must protect her at all costs. But don’t get mistaken that protecting her means she is helpless; quite the opposite is true in fact. As the game progresses you will find that Ellie is just as tough as Joel, if not more so. They both come to rely on each other for survival.

Joel and Ellie arrive on campus

You will end up travelling across America in your mission, encountering some interesting and downright terrifying people. The locations too are beautiful to explore, with the suburbs; the University of Eastern Colorado; a snowy lakeside resort; and more. All of which have been subject to the unstoppable spread of both mother nature and the deadly virus. The combination of overgrown flora and fauna, along with the ever-mutating infected, make for some simultaneously beautiful and grotesque imagery.

Infected everywhere

The infected that you encounter on your journey can be really tough at times, with all-out gun fights being the worse option to take. The infected people are found at different stages in their individual mutations, with each stage having its own strengths and weaknesses. The most iconic of these stages is probably what are known as ‘Clickers’. These mutated festering people have one of the most iconic sounds I’ve heard – their namesake ‘Clicking’.  They use this as a form of echo location due to their being blind as a bat.

There’s nothing quite so brutal as the moment a clicker grabs a hold a bites down hard.

A game of character

The emotional thread that runs through this game is much stronger than any of the make shift melee weapons that Joel can fashion. The core of The Last of Us is the father/daughter relationship between Joel and Ellie that gets stronger and stronger as time goes on. Although he is initially cold towards her, treating her simply as his current mission, you will see how their bond becomes tighter with each step they take. One of the real great parts of this character development too, is the subtle exchanges of conversation that happen in-game, when you are playing.

Ellie from The Last of Us

It is hard to talk about the characters in this game without drawing comparisons to The Walking Dead. What both The Walking Dead and The Last of Us do so well, is deal with the conflicts between humans themselves. Even though humans as a species have a common enemy in the viral outbreak, there are still separate factions that arise that will kill one another for control and supplies instead of working together.

As strong and positive as the relationship between Joel and Ellie is, there is darkness out there that would see them torn apart. This darkness could not have been portrayed any better than by David. The build up through the Winter chapter to its violent conclusion is one of my favourite scenes in gaming. And that’s all I’ll mention of it.

Multiple playthroughs

I’d never before finished a game and immediately, after the credits, hit ‘New Game’, but with this one I did. I just couldn’t wait to get back into this world once again. Once I knew the story and where conflicts would occur, I found I could take in more of the environment. I would start looking carefully at every little detail in the world around me, ever-impressed with the level of care.

When you replay through at the same difficulty you keep all weapon and character enhancements you gained first time through. This made me feel like a bad ass and I actually went looking for fights.

In Conclusion

It’s rare that a game, or even a film, that gets such high praise and surrounding hype actually lives up to it, but The Last of Us does. It’ll have you laughing at the funny interactions between the characters; it’ll have you terrified and scared for your life. It may even have you questioning the things that you really hold dear in this world of distractions and excess.

The Last of Us not only lives up to its reputation, it dwarfs it.