With lockdown situations in effect in many places and limitations on how many guests you could have over (if any) during Christmas, many of us took to videogames over the holiday break. We did too and thought we’d share some of the games the team’s been playing these past few weeks.
Shady Part of Me
If you read our review of Iris.Fall and enjoyed that game, then you’ll absolutely love Shady Part of Me from Focus Home. Featuring beautiful artwork and a gorgeous visual style, this is audiovisual storytelling at its best when it comes to puzzle platformers.
The use of light and darkness isn’t just for show either – it plays an integral part in the gameplay as well, as does time manipulation and switching between 2D and 3D perspectives. This comes across especially well when you consider that puzzling and platforming are divided between the perspectives as well – most puzzles taking place in the 3D world while your shadow (that you can switch to and from at any time) jumps away in her own 2D environment in the background.
It’s easy to compare Shady Part of Me to Iris.Fall based on aesthetics, but the platforming elements are something that Iris.Fall doesn’t have and developer Douze Dixièmes also approaches gameplay design differently. Shady Part of Me finds clever ways to build on the same concepts, but even though it manages to stick with what’s familiar it’s still a longer game than most titles in the genre. An unexpected gem, this was a highlight of the December release schedule and one that enthusiasts of the genre won’t want to miss.
Few publishers were more prolific during the holiday break than Headup, which brought Colt Canyon to the PlayStation 4 a few months after the game launched on the PC and other systems. A twin stick roguelike shooter that takes place in the Wild West, this is one of those games that’s easy to get into yet hard to master. You can go in guns blazing to save your partner, but the more runs you complete, the more strategies you’ll uncover and master – which is especially useful during boss battles.
This is a game that screams “indie” all the way with its pixelated visuals and super low-detail protagonists and bandits (and we mean Atari 2600 levels of detail for them), but the environments you explore are surprisingly detailed and can become part of your gameplay strategy as well. This is especially true when you play with another player in a local co-op game, where you can lure bandits away into a trap for a very satisfying end (though not for them). We assume this one was also great fun on the Switch in handheld mode, but we’re glad to have finally played it on a PS4.
Bake ‘n Switch
While Bake ‘n Switch technically isn’t a new game as it was released a few months ago, it was on sale for 50% off on the Nintendo Switch during the break and that felt like a good moment to check out this game, which initially looked a bit like Overcooked but plays out a little differently once you go hands on with it.
While there are similarities (you’re baking stuff, and there’s a firm emphasis on cooperative play), and both games feature a similar colorful and cartoony visual style, Bake ‘n Switch is much more of an arcade game that doesn’t require you to strategize as much as Overcooked does. You have to make sure you bake the right goods, but doing so is mostly a matter of mashing together smaller “ingredients” (which include monkeys!) to create bigger ones or cooperating by throwing ingredients towards players you can’t (easily) reach so another player can pick them up.
The gameplay is simpler than in Overcooked, and Bake ‘n Switch feels more like a party game as a result. That’s ultimately what hurts it in terms of lasting appeal, but it’s something that’s easy to pick up and enjoy for a quick spin – especially with family during a lockdown. What’s also nice is that the game seems to have gotten a bunch of (free) content updates since its release, which includes options for solo play as well.
Rigid Force Redux
Although they’re far less popular these days, the classic arcade shooter is still beloved with the retro gaming audience. We recently looked at a new Space Invaders compilation, as well as I, AI – a vertical scroller inspired by the arcade games of old. Rigid Force Redux from Headup (we told you they were prolific) doesn’t go the vertical route, but gives us another taste of the horizontal scrolling shooter – games that were made popular by the likes of R-Type and Gradius.
Developed by com8com1, the game was previously released on PC as Rigid Force Alpha and then in an enhanced “Redux” version for the Switch and Xbox One, but the PlayStation 4 version is brand new. Just like the other version, it uses 3D visuals to render a 2D side-scroller to create a modern equivalent to the classic shooter, not too unlike Sine Mora.
While the gameplay in Rigid Force Redux is familiar, the game provides a twist in letting you change the position of your guns in real time, adding an almost tactical element to the shooting alongside the ability to pick up and power up your arsenal of weapons. Sure, it may not reinvent the arcade shooter, but modern takes on the genre are rare these days and Rigid Force Redux certainly is a solid example of one.
Super Sports Blast
We already covered Super Sports Blast just before Christmas, but it’s been a popular game all throughout the holiday break. Featuring arcade-like approaches to football, tennis and (beach) volleyball, all three games are easily accessible for a quick round.
What we also found is that they’re addictive, especially when you’re trying to grind out the associated trophies – which are all quite manageable once you have a somewhat firm grasp of the core gameplay and are able to win your matches with some ease. In football and tennis, that also means you’ll probably get a little creative in trying to show off some of your skills.
More of a fun diversion than a serious option for purists, this turned out to be a great “everyone can join in” option over the break, especially because it supports local multiplayer.
The online casino game
Definitely not a videogame in the traditional sense, but if you received something like a Christmas bonus and felt lucky about turning that into something that’s enough for a shiny new console and a few games then you could also consider engaging with some online gambling. If, like us, you’re relatively new to this, then onlinecasinosnoop.com is a good starting point that gives you a nice overview of your various options.