This week we’re seeing three games head to (next gen) consoles that were previously released on last gen consoles and/or PCs. Read on to find out about El Hijo – A Wild West Tale, Tennis World Tour 2 on PS5 and Hellbreachers.
El Hijo – A Wild West Tale heads to consoles
El Hijo – A Wild West Tale, developed by Honig Studios and published by HandyGames, did very well when it was unveiled for the first time, scooping up critical acclaim and awards in the indie community – including the award for best indie game at the 2019 edition of Gamescom. And to put that into perspective – this was the last physical edition of Gamescom, where the audience voted the Indie Arena Booth as the best booth of the show, so it was a pretty major award. El Hijo finally released a year later, but was a PC exclusive title when it did. The console versions were already announced and in the works though, and they have now arrived – we took a look at the PS4 version.
A stealth-centric action game viewed from an isometric perspective, a lot of El Hijo’s charm comes from its sweet narrative-driven storyline. In it, you’re a young boy looking to find his mother after their farm was attacked by bandits and El Hijo was left to live in a monastery while his mother sets out to make things right. You have other ideas though, so you’re ready to escape and be with your mom again sooner rather than later.
Stealth is built in due to the fact that El Hijo isn’t a fighter, and keeping out of sight is almost always the best course of action – unless you’re interacting with friendly characters, which includes other children in heartwarming interactions. This is further enhanced by a wonderful art style and an endearing protagonist looking for his mother.
Gameplay-wise you’ll see a lot of familiar mechanics at play here, making El Hijo feel a bit like a “stealth-lite” approach to the genre – which is a solid and understandable choice considering the family-friendly presentation. The shadows are your friends, you can hide inside objects, you can distract enemies with a few basic tools and a bird gives you access to the positions of bandits and information about where they’re walking and looking.
New mechanics get gradually introduced over the course of the game’s 30 levels, but additions are never really game-changing in their nature – offering variations on existing themes rather than mixing it up. Checkpoints are generally distributed as well, so if you struggle with a new situation or mechanic the punishment for failure isn’t too bad.
The stealth gameplay in El Hijo – A Wild West Tale isn’t as groundbreaking as the game’s early accolades suggested, but its charming presentation makes it easy to understand why it was met with such enthusiasm. The game makes a great first impression and its sweet story will stick with you, even though the gameplay can feel generic in places. Despite that, it’s easy to pick up and enjoy, and unless you expect something truly innovate it won’t disappoint.
Tennis World Tour 2 on Next Gen (PS5)
When Tennis World Tour 2 launched last year, it felt like it was a game stuck in between two worlds. Development reigns had been handed over to the team behind AO Tennis, but the experience felt bare bones – something we pointed out in our review. The game is making a comeback though, with a complete edition that’s launching for next gen platforms.
Content-wise, the biggest addition is that the re-release offers an impressive roster of 48 current and past tennis pros – including all the post-release DLC players and a handful of brand new ones. The ‘legends’ are a bit underwhelming with players like Safin and Kuerten rather than Sampras, McEnroe or Borg, and the current batch doesn’t include the Williams sisters or Djokovic, but hopefully the Tennis World Tour brand will grow and incorporate more big names in the future.
That also goes for licensed tournaments, because although there are plenty of real players in the game you still have to play “London” rather than “Wimbledon” – though the ATP Cup is a new licensed addition. It’s also worth pointing out that the licensed players now have signature moves, making the animations look more like the real deal rather than copy-paste jobs. Of course this is most apparent when playing with the big names where their style really stands out, but it’s a step forward – one that existing owners on other platforms are also getting, by the way.
Tennis World Tour 2 gets the next gen treatment for the complete edition as well, and includes the usual features of faster loading times, higher (4K) resolutions and a stable 60 fps framerate. What we thought made the game look especially good, however, were the raytracing effects and particle effects. The latter are especially clear on certain surfaces, and show up better on grass and clay courts than they do on hardcourt surfaces. Character models may still not look as lifelike as those in a game like NBA 2K21 on next gen, but with the new upgrades Tennis World Tour 2 certainly is the most visually impressive tennis game we’ve seen so far.
Hellbreachers coming to consoles
Eastasiasoft is still on a roll when it comes to bringing niche indie titles to console platforms, and Hellbreachers is their next release – out soon for all major consoles after having previously been launched on Steam by developer OMEGACORE.
As with a lot of Eastasiasoft’s recent indie releases, Hellbreachers features a retro aesthetic that sits somewhere in between the 8-bit and 16-bit generations of consoles. Picture the flat surfaces and rectangle-filled levels of 8-bit platformers and the visually more detailed characters of the 16-bit generation, and you’re on your way.
Based on its title, we expected Hellbreachers to be a lot darker and filled with more occult stuff than it is – it instead sticks to a familiar 2D retro action platformer formula with subtle RPG influences implemented into it. It gives you a choice between three starting characters that determines your base skillset, which you can then tune to emphasize specific abilities. In other words, you can tune your knight to be extra strong in melee combat or add more agility in combat – and you can do the same when you play as the magician or assassin.
Across the game’s 50 levels, which feature 10 boss fights and are spread across 10 different areas/backdrops, you can change your character’s abilities at any given time, redistributing your strengths – something that helps in finding your desired playstyle but is actually supremely useful during boss fights, and a nice novel touch in a genre filled with generic clones. It’s being released at a very budget-friendly price point as well, so Hellbreacher is one to check out if you’re a fan of indie titles like this one.