We are looking at three titles that were recently ported over to additional platforms, as we look at one of our favorites this year in Twelve Minutes. We also check out Warhammer 40,000: Battlesector and Transient – Extended Edition.
Twelve Minutes (PS4)
When Annapurna’s Twelve Minutes was released for Xbox and PC earlier this year, we immediately loved it. Its unique approach to audiovisual storytelling made it a memorable experience that bridged the gap between films and videogames, so we were excited to see the game branching out to other platforms just before the end of the year. This way, new audiences can see why this one deserved its nomination for “best independent game” at the recent game awards.
Of course it helps that the script in Twelve Minutes is brought to life by Hollywood talent like James McAvoy, Daisy Ridley, and Willem Dafoe, but the unique overhead perspective is also a striking feature of the game – as well as a clever way to stick to a more modest production budget, not having to render large environments in 3D for you to walk and look around in.
Here, the camera is fixed, and the well-animated and even better voiced digital actors are the center of the experience. As something that almost resembles interactive cinema, there’s less traditional gameplay than you might expect, but fans of thrillers will feel right at home as they try to manipulate the game’s timeline to make sure things end on a better note than the first few minutes suggest.
You see, this is a game where you’re caught up in a time loop, which enables you to change the story retroactively after things end badly. The highly acclaimed Deathloop featured a similar mechanic, but we found Twelve Minutes to be a far more accessible experience thanks to its roots in cinematic principles and easy to understand gameplay mechanics and controls. Some of the puzzles – which is a good way to describe the game’s scenes – can feel a tad counterintuitive, but ultimately this is a great experience that’s a joy to play solo or with a loved one/friend over one or two evenings. Highly recommended for the upcoming holiday break!
Warhammer 40,000: Battlesector (PS4)
Few licenses are more prevalent in gaming then Warhammer – partly because its parent company doesn’t work exclusively with a single publisher and is quite generous about letting developers craft their own visions around the various IPs that fall under the banner. Warhammer 40,000: Battlesector from developer Black Lab Games is the latest take on the franchise, and has now come to consoles after an earlier release on PC.
As a tactics-based strategy game, it feels like a natural fit for the source material as well, and the same can be said for its dark and often claustrophobic sci-fi atmosphere in which you play with squads of space marines. The game also stays away (mostly) from stats, rules and numbers, keeping the focus on the battles at hand, which we think is what makes it feel right at home on consoles as well.
While the zoomed out view of Warhammer 40,000: Battlesector resembles something akin to an elaborate table top game setting (albeit with a lot of scenery elements), you can also zoom in to get a closer look at the action. This reveals some of the meticulous work that’s been down on the character designs, which capture the look of the tabletop figures very well. What’s also a nice touch is that, even though many of your units are squads of multiple characters, they don’t all move like synchronized swimmers – when they fire upon the enemy, you’ll notice that they’re not all doing it at the exact same time, which feels more organic and lifelike. While you’ll ultimately play a lot of the game in a zoomed out view for more of a tactical overview, these touches are definitely appreciated.
Another area where Battlesector works well on consoles is in its actual gameplay, which is straightforward enough to be enjoyed in a couch setting and doesn’t involve micromanaging tons of details or mixing up your gameplay style to accommodate each scenario. Battlesector is a more casual experience, with just enough depth to feel tactical in nature but accessible enough for newcomers at the same time. The downside is that seasoned veterans might not find enough challenge once they figure out the core tactics to beating the Tyranids, but the Warhammer 40,000 vibe more than makes up for it. And while it’s accessible, the game does commit one of the sins that we often see in PC to console ports – the font used for text is too small for a screen you’re not sitting directly in front of. A small oversight that’ll hopefully be fixed in a future patch though, as Warhammer 40,000: Battlesector is one of the better Warhammer games to come to consoles and a solid tactics game even without the license.
Transient – Extended Edition (PS5)
When we reviewed Transient after it launched for PCs, we mentioned that the developer was planning on releasing console versions in 2021. Cue December of 2021, and they’ve delivered just in time. What’s more is that it’s been renamed as the “Extended Edition”, which comes with additional content as well as a few optimizations to the visuals and gameplay.
To begin with the latter, the development team seems to have taken the feedback on the original game to heart. In the original release of Transient, it was too easy to lose track of what you were doing. While the story itself can still feel pretty convoluted and confusing at times, things like the inclusion of new map and story content does help a little. And if you’ve played Transient before, then you’ll notice that one area in particular has grown a bit and there’s a new ending as well.
More striking, however, are some of the visual optimizations, as the console version of Transient includes support for HDR – which works great for the game’s mix of Lovecraftian horror and cyberpunk. And as a sidenote – all of the additions for the extended edition also come to owners of the PC version for free, as that version has been upgraded to the extended version as well.
Not everything’s better in the new version though – at least not when playing on a console. The PlayStation build suffered from instability issues when we were testing it, regularly freezing and crashing mid gameplay and forcing you to lose quite a bit of progress, depending on where it happened. This was especially frustrating during puzzles, as the game randomly generated them so all of your steps get lost in the process as well.
Transient on consoles is every bit as impressive in terms of its thematic nature and visual design as it was on PC, but this is a case of keeping an eye on the patch notes to see if performance increases over the next few weeks. Once it does, fans of cyberpunk/sci-fi stories with a heavy metaphysical “what is real?” vibe should take a look.