With Lamentum, Timothy’s Night and Mad Streets, we’re highlighting three recent game releases that cater to a wide array of audiences. From classic survival horror to a film noir-style action game and a party brawler, this roundup certainly has range going for it.
Lamentum review (PS4)
Developed by Obscure Tales and published by Neon Doctrine, Lamentum is a distinctly ‘indie’ approach to classic survival horror with its visuals and mechanics, and it’s out now for all major systems: Xbox, PlayStation, PC and Switch.
Your protagonist in Lamentum is Victor Hartwell, and you’re hoping to cure your wife who has fallen ill with a deadly disease. There’s a man living in Grau Hill Mansion who claims he might be able to cure her, but it’s also a place that’s shrouded in darkness. It’s a tale that takes place in 18th century New England, and taps heavily into an HP Lovecraft type of horror as strange and gruesome things start to appear and you slowly descend into madness.
Over time, you’ll be able to access more and more of the mansion and its surroundings, which is great for the narrative development of the game (clocking in at about 12 hours) but also means there’s a fair bit of backtracking involved. This is especially true when you miss an object or clue and the experience is a lot more streamlined when doing a second playthrough, but most people’s opinions are obviously going to be formed based on their first experience.
Seen from the perspective of that experience, be ready for what is very much a game grounded in classic survival horror tropes – including a PS1-era type save game system where you can’t up and quit any time you want as well as sparse firearms and ammo. If you’re more accustomed to how Capcom re-imagined their classic titles in recent years, then this will take some getting used to and it’s not going to be for everyone.
Look past that, however, and this is a neat horror title that doesn’t rely on fancy 3D visuals and jump scares but instead crafts a sense of foreboding and horror through its pixel art and lighting. We’ll see far more mainstream horror releases next month, but if you’re looking for something a little different then Lamentum can offer just that.
Timothy’s Night review (PS5)
PlayStation 5 exclusives are rare, especially from smaller developers, but Timothy’s Night from WildSphere is one of them. WildSphere previously developed the gravity-bending platformer Naught and we had fun with their Gigantosaurus game (developed for Outright) as well. They have a small but diverse portfolio already, though Timothy’s Night is actually an updated version of an earlier game called Timothy vs the Aliens, which launched on the PlayStation 4.
What’s immediately striking is the visual style that WildSphere uses in Timothy’s Night. Echoing the film noir style of the pre-color TV era, the small city you play in makes great use of a black and white aesthetic and Timothy’s detective/mob look is also a great fit for the style and time period, as the game takes place in a 1940s setting. Everything’s rendered with some nice lighting effects as well, making this possibly the best 3D depiction of a noir world we’ve seen in a game thus far.
But while gangsters are a major factor in town, that’s about to change during an alien invasion – one that Timothy has to fight back against because other humans are surprisingly rare in this town. Perhaps this is a conscious choice, as all the aliens are rendered in bright colors, making their presence really feel like an invasion in more ways than one.
The bulk of the gameplay is of the third person shooter variety, and Timothy’s Night feels a little bit like the Destroy All Humans games from THQ. You’ll be presented with different gameplay styles at regular intervals though, like some light platforming and even a bit of driving. The majority is shooting though, and your standard weapon (a pistol) never runs out of ammo. You can also pick up additional weapons, but ammo for those is more scarce.
While most of the game is entertaining, its controls are a double-edged sword. On the one hand it has some of the best DualSense support we’ve seen thus far, with great use of haptics and triggers that change their behavior when you switch weapons, as well some excellent audio effect to further increase the immersion. On the other hand, Timothy always feels a little sluggish to control, and comes across as a character that could use a bit more agility – especially during platforming sections. This is a budget game that is mostly “just fine” though, and it has a fun story campaign. Just don’t expect any standout moments besides the 40s film noir look and feel that meshes with 50s sci-fi monsters.
Mad Streets review (Xbox One)
Possibly the rarest kind of console exclusive, platform-wise, is a game that’s only available on Xbox – yet this past week both Song of Iron and Mad Streets were released and can’t be played on PlayStation or the Switch. Developed by Craftshop Arts Inc, it’s a beat ’em up game that looks like Final Fight at first glance but feels very different because of a large role for physics-based mechanics and vastly different gameplay.
There’s a premise about gangs at a university in there somewhere, but at its core Mad Streets is more of a party game with beat ’em up controls than a straight up brawler. You can play alone, but the game is much more fun with a few friends, with a few different game modes to engage with – one of which includes dodgeball but with plenty of stuff to throw around at people in other modes as well. There’s no shortage of ways to play here, with a Mad Rush mode that’s more story-driven as well as original modes like ‘one punch’ and an objective-focused Stadium mode.
As you play, you’ll unlock additional moves as well, but the controls will never feel as fluid or responsive as they would in a fighter like Tekken or a brawler like Streets of Rage. It’s meant to be a lot more wacky than those games, but tighter controls would have been appreciated. The visuals can be equally rough around the edges, but the cartoon-like style fits well with the party game mechanics of Mad Streets.
As a single player brawler, you have far better games to choose from – including another Xbox exclusive in Battletoads. As a party game brawler, this is a niche game, but worth a try if you regularly have couch multiplayer sessions and aren’t too concerned about polish and are just looking for some button mashing fun.