From a major AAA console title that gets a PC port to two indies that just appeared on consoles, here’s a look at three new ports – reviews for Returnal, Go! Go! PogoGirl and Pocket Witch are below.
Returnal review (PC)
It doesn’t feel like it’s already been almost two years since we reviewed Returnal on the PS5, as to this date it stands as one of the best games available for the system. Sony’s continuing their efforts to bring the PlayStation experience to PC gamers though, and Housemarque’s next gen action shooter is the next game to get the porting treatment.
Before we delve into the technical parts of this port though, let’s back up and remember the launch of the PS5 version. Its unforgiving save system, which pretty much meant you couldn’t save your game and reload if things weren’t working out, was met with criticism from players. Housemarque defended its decision as an integral part of the experience, but since then have made the game a tiny bit more lenient. You still can’t load up an old save whenever you want, but at least you can now quit the game and pick it up again with a one-time load of where you left off. That may seem like a small thing, but it was certainly better than having to either go non-stop through the entire game or having to leave your console running for hours just to be able to keep playing.
More post-launch additions were added to the game afterwards, and they’re here for the PC port as well. Co-op is a big one, letting you join forces with a fellow player online. The game’s difficulty level scales up when you activate the in-game Chronosis device that starts a multiplayer session, but being able to team up changes up the gameplay enough to make this worthwhile even for those who’ve already completed the campaign solo. Unfortunately, cross-platform co-op between PlayStation and PC isn’t supported.
You also can’t play co-op in the Tower of Sisyphus mode that was added in – a mode that becomes available once you gain access to the in-game grappling hook and is located in the start area of each run. A challenge mode of sorts in which you ascent a tall tower through combat, this is one to tackle after you’ve gotten comfortable with the main game and want to try out how far you can get and how high you can score – with some exclusive rewards and story fragments to find as well.
On the technical front, Returnal on PC features full DualSense support, which is a real perk for PC gamers. And as with other PC ports by PlayStation, there is a wide support for different aspect ratios and quality settings, letting the game shine in 4K with impressive lighting effects and raytracing that boost the visual fidelity of the game even past the excellent PS5 version. If you didn’t have the opportunity to play that one, this is a great chance to catch up.
Go! Go! PogoGirl review (PS4)
It’s hard to look at recent console ports and not end up checking out a Ratalaika release. Go! Go! PogoGirl was released by developer Ohsat Games on Steam first but is now available for all major consoles, letting us play this retro-inspired pixel art platformer on a PlayStation 4.
As you can probably gather from the title, your hero in this particular platformer is a young girl who mostly gets around by bouncing on her pogo stick. The game features twenty levels, evenly split across four different themes that correlate with the four seasons. And even though you’re not walking or running, the controls are quite intuitive and easy to learn. Besides regular hops, you can press down to charge up (for more height) or crash down (to activate buttons), and you can spin in the air to float for a bit or take out enemies. The trickiest part to master is that you can’t just stand still on a pogo stick, but master the momentum and you’ll be good to go.
Lives are unlimited, but complete a level without losing one and you’ll get a better score and more rewards – including a few secret levels. The regular levels also feature a boss fight after each sequence of five levels (per season), and despite the inclusion of a pogo stick this one feels very much like a classic 2D platformer from thirty years ago, with a visual and gameplay style that evokes memories of games like Zool, Robocod, Fire and Ice and Prehistorik. 16-bit classics inspired by the success of Sonic and Mario that all carved out their own style and approach.
Go! Go! PogoGirl is a really fun little platformer, and the biggest thing holding it back is that the game is on the short side. Any seasoned player will get through it in an evening with time to spare, so luckily it has a budget price point.
Pocket Witch review (PS4)
Another publisher you can always count on for a console port is EastAsiaSoft, who are releasing Pocket Witch from Naoka Studios/Pufferfish Digital onto all major consoles this week. You may remember the developer from Hatup, which we covered not too long ago – a fun little indie platformer for which the dev also partnered with EastAsiaSoft.
Pocket Witch is another platformer in the same vein, though obviously it doesn’t have the hat-changing mechanic. Instead, you get a Halloween-themed look and feel to the experience, complete with pumpkins and a cute little witch for you to control – it’ll be no surprise that the PC version launched just before Halloween.
Look past the Halloween theme and Pocket Witch is a somewhat generic little platformer that ticks off all the basics – double jumps, a dash ability and all the spikes, dangers and enemies you’d expect. It’s also really short – we blasted through the game’s 30 levels in less than an hour. That means it’s another easy platinum trophy, but it also explains the budget price point for the game. It’s cheaper on PC though, so in terms of value for money you might want to wait for a sale – but even if you don’t, this is a quality little platformer, just a short one.