Lab Rat dev skeptical of multiplatform launches and the virtues of virtual events – GamesIndustry.biz

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After last year's launch of the puzzle game Kine, Chump Squad founder Gwen Frey was kicking around ideas for her next project.

"I didn't think I would do another puzzle game," Frey tells GamesIndustry.biz. "I thought I would go for something bigger. I've always really loved strategy and tactics games so I thought I would go for something bigger, maybe grow Chump Squad, maybe get an office."

Then COVID-19 came along and punched a hole in all those plans. Frey says she would have needed funding to grow the studio as she hoped to, and that would have meant a lot of air travel to raise capital right around March, just as the disease was declared a pandemic and swaths of the US and Europe went into lockdown.

So she shelved those plans and instead started up a game jam with some friends in puzzle designer circles.

"For the game jam we started making a puzzle game and I just absolutely fell in love with it and kept pushing on it, and that became Lab Rat."

To hear Frey describe it, Lab Rat is very clearly a product of its time. Set for release early next year, Lab Rat sees players put in the role of humans made to run through a series of brain-teasing tests by an antagonistic AI. While it's a single-player game, there is an online component to allow for touches like having the AI poll players and sharing the resulting survey responses with each other.

"It was the beginning of lockdown, sitting here on my computer alone every day, and the only way I could communicate with human beings is through this computer in front of me," Frey says. "Every interaction I have with other people is filtered through social media. Everything I do is being tracked and monitored. I'm being put into a filter bubble on Google where all I ever see is the things the algorithms think I want to see.

"I just had this feeling that this is oppressive and absurd, and this is what human interaction is becoming. I wanted to make a game that captured that..."

"I just had this feeling that this is oppressive and absurd, and this is what human interaction is becoming. I wanted to make a game that captured that, not in a way that's negative or dark, but kind of light-hearted. I wanted to poke fun at the absurdity of the situation."

The game's marketing plan likewise reflects our current moment. Lab Rat was announced during the virtual Gamescom event last month, as part of the Awesome Indies showcase. Gamescom was just one in a steady parade of formerly in-person events to roll out online replacements this summer, and while there have been some indications the online-only editions can still provide effective marketing, Frey has some reservations on that front.

"I'm nervous about online events replacing in-person events for a lot of reasons. When I try to get a game into a local event, say PAX in Boston, I'm submitting my game and only competing with other people who could possibly show up at PAX in Boston. And I've never submitted a game for PAX Australia because I know I can't get there. When people have to physically show up at these events, it does have a limiting effect on which indies can apply there, which is good and bad."

(Note: The PAX events are run by GamesIndustry.biz parent ReedPOP.)

On the one hand, creators far outside the development hubs where such events often take place now have fewer economic and geographic barriers preventing them from appearing. On the other hand, Frey is somewhat concerned that when every indie developer can put their game into every show, the pool of games actually featured by organizers may shrink.

"My theory is very soon we're going to have a situation where only the best indies ever have their games shown, and there's no place anymore for somebody who's making something more niche or more experimental to showcase their work or get noticed, because we're having a kind of winners-take-all situation right now with these online events," Frey says.

She's also skeptical about whether online-only conferences will continue to attract consumers the way in-person events do.

"There's just been so many [virtual] events that gamers are getting bored of them. They aren't special"

"I just don't think they are as compelling for gamers," Frey says. "There's just been so many events that gamers are getting bored of them. They aren't special. There's something very special to driving to a place and physically being in a place and experiencing being at PAX, hearing the noises, playing multiplayer games with your friends. It's so much more special and impressive when you're playing these things in person, and that just is not the case when you're doing an online festival.

"I think as time goes on, they're less and less interesting and they're no longer the exceptional marketing opportunity they used to be. I feel like if I miss a given online show this weekend, there will be another one in two weeks."

Even if in-person events were still happening, Lab Rat would have a different marketing and launch strategy than Kine did despite both being puzzle games.

One of the biggest differences is due to the number of platforms Frey is targeting for launch. Kine was an Epic Games Store exclusive on PC when it launched last October, but it also launched the same day on the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch. And then the Stadia version was ready for the streaming service's debut the next month.

For a small indie developer without the assistance of a publisher, that was challenging.

"Not only did it mean I was spending a lot of time at the end of development focusing on making sure the game worked on every storefront, but it also meant iterating became extremely difficult because if I ever wanted to make a change to the game, I had to update it in several places," Frey said. "Updating your game on any given storefront isn't a big deal, but knowing you have to push an update to five or six storefronts is overwhelming. It makes it a lot harder to iterate and develop from that point on."

Another big timesink of the multiplatform launch was addressing the litany of platform-specific quirks that would pop up.

"All of a sudden you have to test what your UI looks like in German on the Switch when the Switch is in handheld mode and the text could possibly be overflowing the UI boxes," Frey said. "You just have all of these edge cases that come up when you try to do everything all at once."

Frey says one of the nice things about an exclusivity deal (beyond the funding that comes with it) is that it can give a developer time to test and iterate almost like a beta release, so that when it arrives on larger storefronts, it's a tighter, more complete experience.

"What I found is because I had to do everything at once, I didn't have the time to focus on... reaching out to specific press for each platform"

Because the Epic deal only secured exclusivity on PC formats, Frey didn't get the benefit of that sort of iteration before the console launches, something she says she deeply regrets.

Frey also found that in her experience, the marketing boost that conventional wisdom says can be gained from a simultaneous release was overstated.

"I thought I would get more of a marketing push if I could say it was on all the platforms at the same time," she says. "I thought there would be more venues that were Nintendo-specific, for instance, that would cover the game and people would see the game in all these different places. But what I found is because I had to do everything at once, I didn't have the time to focus on just reaching out to Nintendo-specific press, or just reaching out to specific press for each platform.

"So in the end, I don't really feel like I got that effect anyway. And I think if I had a publisher that was managing those marketing relationships and could amplify the fact the game was coming out on all these platforms, perhaps it would have made a lot more sense to come out on all these platforms at once. But I think as a small studio, it was a mistake to try to take on quite that much all at once."

Whatever misgivings Frey may have with parts of the game's marketing or launch strategy, she makes a point of saying they haven't soured her on the game itself.

"I'm extremely happy with Kine," she says. "I'm proud of what I accomplished there. I did update the game slightly a couple months after launch on all the platforms. I just feel like that whole process would have been a lot smoother if I had only launched on one platform initially."

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Lab Rat dev skeptical of multiplatform launches and the virtues of virtual events - GamesIndustry.biz

The original Myst is coming to VR – The Verge

Myst creator Cyan Worlds is adapting its classic adventure game to virtual reality. Facebook and Cyan announced that Myst will get a VR remake for the Oculus Quest later this year, launching after the release of the upcoming Oculus Quest 2 headset.

The VR version of Myst is described as a reimagining of the 1993 original, which was created using Apples HyperCard software. It includes new art, audio, and interactions, plus a randomized puzzle option for an added challenge. A trailer offers a broad reminder of what Myst is about, but it doesnt show us what the game will actually look like or how it will play.

Cyan has already made a foray into VR. Obduction was a spiritual successor to Myst that optionally supported virtual reality. It was released in 2016 alongside the very first current-generation headsets, and while it had a gorgeous design and clever puzzles, Cyan was still trying to balance making a non-VR game that worked in VR. That compromise doesnt exist with Mysts remake, and Cyan can draw on a wider set of conventions for VR puzzle games.

See the rest here:
The original Myst is coming to VR - The Verge

The top 10 games of the generation – Eurogamer.net

We wanted to do something special for PAX Online x EGX Digital - the digital gaming event from our parent company, ReedPop, which is running this week - and with new PlayStation and Xbox consoles just two months away, a list celebrating the great games of the generation seemed like a no-brainer. And that was before we knew that last week and this would be dominated by news of the price, date and launch line-ups for the two new console families.

There was just one problem. Last year, we ran a feature series on our games of the decade, curated by the Eurogamer team and very much reflecting our personal tastes and obsessions. With the current generation running from November 2013 to now, there was bound to be an awful lot of overlap. How could we make the new list fresh?

The answer was simple: step out of our bubble, ask some other people what they thought, and see what, if any, consensus might form. So we assembled a panel of 19 game developers, critics and journalists - some of our favourite people in the games business - and asked each of them to submit a list of their five favourite games released since November 2013. (That was the only restriction: the games could be of any kind and on any platform.) Then we number-crunched the results to produce a top 10.

It was interesting: there was a pretty strong consensus about the top games on the list - certainly about the number one - but after that there was a huge divergence of opinion, taste and genre that reflects just how thrillingly broad a church video games have become. Some massive pop-cultural phenomena only got one or two mentions apiece, while some rarefied indie games got a lot of support. (Admittedly, while we kept out of the voting ourselves, there was quite a lot of Eurogamer selection bias in the people we chose to spoke to.)

The top 10 is interesting, but equally interesting is that enormous range of games nominated by our panel, so further down the page you'll find their comments on just some of the other games that stood out in this extraordinarily diverse generation of gaming.

Also, in the video embed below, you can watch a conversation I had with Eurogamer's Christian Donlan, Malindy Hetfeld and Chris Tapsell talking through the top 10 and giving our personal reactions to some of the choices.

Here's to another generation of gaming - and here's hoping it can be as thrilling as the last.

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Greg Kasavin: "It set a new bar for computer role-playing games, with its stunningly detailed open world, excellent character writing, and massive scope."

Keza Macdonald: "A fantasy game that breaks free of boring tropes. I played Skyrim for about 100 hours and couldn't tell you the name of a single character in it. But I remember about 20 brilliant stories from The Witcher 3."

Ralph Fulton: "It took me three attempts to properly get into, but then so did The Wire. A masterpiece."

Jason Schreier: "Puzzle perfection. I have probably spent more time playing Threes than any other game in my life (and I've spent, like, 500 hours on Destiny). Granted, most of that time was while riding the subway or watching TV with my wife, but still. The new Tetris, as far as I'm concerned."

Rami Ismail: "Nier:Automata is a staggeringly difficult game to describe - but stubborn would probably be the best word to use. It is sincere and stubborn, as you'd expect from a creator like Yoko Taro, but it is tempered by the experience in smooth action gameplay at Platinum Games. The result is indescribable - a game about games that is both a love song and a scathing rebuke."

Chris Plante: "A video game about the history of philosophy, the question of human exceptionalism, and the meaning of life... You play as sexualized androids with big swords. You kill robots who spend their days raising children, having sex, reciting literature, building and destroying societies, and obsessively seeking any meaning whatsoever. You claw for the meanings of being and not being. And all of this, somehow, despite the odds, works. As if all that isn't enough, the game doubles as a biting but loving critique of the video game medium, shifting between genres - sometimes multiple times in a fight sequence - to get at the evolution and pleasures of this art form. Oh, did I mention the sexy androids with swords?"

Erik Wolpaw: "According to Steam, I've played this for 875 hours. And that's not including the many hours I've spent happily, improbably watching people play it on Youtube. At this point, I can pretty confidently state that I will never get tired of it. There's a part of me that's ashamed to admit this simple-looking deck-builder is probably my favorite game ever, but the numbers don't lie."

Tom Francis: "Slay the Spire is a miracle of game design, specifically for its balance. Not in the sense that all the cards it offers you are equally effective - they're not, and it'd be a boring game if they were. The times you get offered a wildly powerful card, one that clicks exactly with what you already have in some terrifying explosion of damage maths, are what makes it. And what makes it last, what's made it become my most played game of all time, is the careful alchemy of when those moments pop up. Too often and they lose their meaning. Too rarely and the runs between feel like a slog. Slay the Spire doles them out just rarely enough that you're pushed to find new killer builds in the seemingly weaker cards you've been dealt. Just often enough that some runs make you laugh out loud, the absurdity of the damage machine you've constructed going to your head. That kind of balance is rare, and it's a hell of a thing when a game gets it this right."

Dan Marshall: "I'm a sucker for gold in a jungle. Any story about gold and some jungle and hopefully an old map and I am ALL IN. Uncharted 4 was just breathtaking from start to finish, I blitzed through it for no other reason than that I simply didn't have the necessary willpower to stop playing. Amazing performances and set-pieces, and enough gold and jungle bits to tickle my adventure thrillbones. Perfect."

Keith Stuart: "Just a wonderfully, assuredly executed narrative game with characters you genuinely care about and a perfect interplay of drama, place and action."

Rami Ismail: "Titanfall 2 is a genuine tour-de-force by a developer that had everything to lose and everything to prove. Even years after release, the game holds up in terms of action design, and it is still staggering in how varied and diverse the gameplay is, how well the narrative and the mechanics intersect, and how genuinely good everything feels."

Ralph Fulton: "For me, Respawn were the developer of the generation and this was their peak - the most constantly inventive single-player experience of the generation by far."

Heather Alexandra: "First-person shooters have gone through a miniature renaissance in the last five years or so, largely thanks to retro 'boomer shooters' like Dusk or Amid Evil. However, there've been a few genuinely amazing games in the AAA space as well, and Titanfall 2 is both the best of the bunch and the most underappreciated. Everything players take for granted while playing Apex Legends was perfected here. Combat is quick and beautiful in ways that even the Doom revivals can't compete with. The solid core comes with some of the most memorable levels of the last decade. Titanfall 2 is the truest modern successor to Half-Life and I'd much rather play this than pretty much anything else out there today."

Chris Plante: "Released in episodes across this decade, Kentucky Route Zero presented a prescient critique of the United States in decline. Laura Hudson wrote the definitive take for Wired."

Yussef Cole: "Defined the generation, not just in the ways it pushed interactive fiction forward but also in the way it stays relevant to the conversation thanks to its episodic model. Technically began at the end of the last generation but it manages to feel both timeless and timely, it has advanced and kept pace with the zeitgeist, and still managed to surpass most of what's out there with its final instalment."

Sam Barlow: "The journey along the titular highway plays games with perspective and voice that I've never seen before or since."

Chris Plante: "Filmmaker Christopher Nolan has spent his career trying to untangle the messy questions of time and its impact on us: the ways that time expands and contracts, how it sculpts our memory, the manner in which it dwarfs our lives and yet, to each individual, is so precious. For better and worse, Nolan has relied on the same tools as AAA video game makers: superheroes, guns, wars, and NPCs who exist to vomit exposition. I believe the best Nolan-esque experience of this decade wasn't made by Nolan. Outer Wilds, a universe-spanning, time-looping, heart-breaking drama set across an alien universe, is a marvel, and a reminder that small teams can accomplish big things. It's as complex, confounding, and even as explosive as a Nolan film, but it trades heavy weaponry and violence for heart and soul."

Tom Francis: "Among so many special moments in games in the last seven years, if I try to pick one that I wouldn't trade for anything, it's from Outer Wilds. It's being dumped back at the start of its time loop again, for the twenty-somethingth time, the whole game world reset except the knowledge in my head and my ship's log. Looking up at the same view of the same solar system I've seen every time, and seeing one, tiny detail. Something I couldn't have seen the first time, even though it was already there. And saying, out loud: "Huh, weird." And then: "Ohhhhhh! OHHHHHHH!" I don't remember what noises came out of me after that, because my brain was doing somersaults through a collapsing mental model of the game's constructed history, false assumptions falling away, huge revelations shooting up fully-formed, open questions resolving each other in a chain reaction of comprehension, answers finally clicking into place. My whole body got chills. Piecing together the secrets of this beautifully hand-crafted solar system as an astronaut-archeologist-detective was a delight like nothing else I've played."

Yussef Cole: "One of the few games to fully commit to existential horror, while keeping its tone so light that the horror creeps up on you even as you expect it. You aren't supposed to save the universe as much as live in its denouement, and your infinitesimal role is made further evident in every interaction. No other game feels like this."

Derek Yu: "Bloodborne is simply one of the best games ever made, period. It's a masterclass in how to make an action-exploration game by the best in the business, with one of the most compelling and frightening worlds I've ever had the pleasure to experience."

Greg Kasavin: "Though From Software had long been refining its 'Souls' game format by the time Bloodborne came out, Bloodborne presented such an engrossing world and faster, more responsive action that I ended up somehow liking it maybe even more than Dark Souls and Demon's Souls before it. From has certainly been one of the most influential developers this generation."

Simon Parkin: "Dark Souls laid down the chunky rhythms of combat, and the clockwork manner of world-organisation, but Bloodborne, Hidetaka Miyazaki's gothic horror interpretation of his own fantasy Ur-myth, has a texture and feel entirely of its own. It juxtaposes brutality and grotesqueness with High-Church intricacy and mystique. An exquisite monster."

Yussef Cole: "Most From Software games have a level of craftsmanship that is hard to match, but Bloodborne combines execution with sheer, undaunted imagination. Blood moons, frightening beasts, Lovecraftian nightmares, stuff games are well versed in, but nothing else comes together as uniquely and memorably as Bloodborne does."

Erik Wolpaw: "Soulsborne games are the best games, and this is the best Soulsborne game. End of story."

Victoria Tran: "You know this was going to be on the list. I knew it was going to be on this list. I'm not usually satisfied when I explore game worlds, but Breath of the Wild made me climb every peak, scour every rock, spend way too much time catching horses, and absolutely love every minute of it."

Keith Stuart: "What I love about this game is that it's an open-world adventure in the truest sense of the phrase: you can just wander around and discover stories and narrative threads without having to follow some grand and over-elaborate narrative arc. Everywhere you go there is something breathtaking and surprising."

Dan Marshall: "This is obviously one of the best games ever made. Tonally it's not my thing, the dialogue and voice acting is kind of creepy, but the actual gameplay is just astonishing. We all know this. It's at its best when the leash is off and you're setting your own objectives - I'd argue it could do away with the traditional 'mission' structure and just let you roam free, but what do I know. There's absolutely nothing bad about the moment-to-moment gameplay. It's slick and thrilling and tactile and just an absolute joy to play from start to finish. "

Jason Schreier: "Breath of the Wild takes the polish and charm of a Zelda game and combines it with the 'say yes to the player' attitude of immersive sims. My favourite types of games are the ones that reward you for experimenting and being curious, and Breath of the Wild delivers and then some."

Simon Parkin: "Another Zelda game had no right to be this fresh or important, especially one built from the constituent parts of a dozen preceding open world games. Yet, Nintendo and, one must assume, that secret army of Oompah-Loompahs who work behind its factory gates, have a talent for trimming the bloat and nonsense from other company's ideas. Yes, Breath of the Wild perfects and reimagines, but it also takes its own path, laying down a grand adventure that feels essentially intimate. It is, in fact, truly possible to set off in any direction, to see where the road takes you and you alone. You're never encumbered by the baggage of too many designers' whims and ideas or even, surprisingly, the series' own legacy. My children and I still wish, aloud, whenever we are stood high atop a hill, that we could jump into the air and glide away. Breath of the Wild gave us this hope, the sort that leads a person to view their own world with fresh eyes."

Keza Macdonald: "Breath of the Wild is what Zelda always felt like in my imagination: boundless, mysterious, playful and secret-stuffed. For a series that I've grown up with for 25 years to surprise me so much was totally unexpected."

Sam Barlow: "What does it mean to explore in a videogame? Whatever it meant before, Zelda: Breath of the Wild has redefined it."

Apex Legends

Keith Stuart: "I think it's the perfect battle royale game and a perfect first-person shooter in mechanical terms. The way you move through the world and interact with items, enemies and objects is so seamless and beautiful; it's a masterpiece of 'gamefeel'. "

A Short Hike

Victoria Tran: "A small, joyful experience that is everything I hope to see more of in future games to come. It's tender and relaxing while still encouraging you to do your very best as you careen the skies. (With an equally enjoyable soundtrack!) Not every game needs to be a violent, combat-based, 100-hour experience. I'm LIVING for this surgence of cozy games we've been seeing."

Celeste

Heather Alexandra: "In my time as a professional critic and reviewer, Celeste was the only game I covered which I could not list negatives for. As someone who worked hard to examine games for all their rough edges, that feels like a miracle to me. So let's say it: Celeste is good. It is, in fact, great. It is an immaculately made game with an earnest heart at the center. Nothing has felt so good to play or given players such precise and natural control over their character. It's possible that nothing will ever match Celeste's platforming chops."

Clash Royale

Ralph Fulton: "I've played this game every day for the last two and half years, and I speak to my clan of strangers more often than I speak to my friends."

Destiny

Rami Ismail: "Destiny is the game that might've defined more of this generation than most people realize. It's easy to point at PUBG and Fortnite and say, well, these games defined our era of games - and of course, they did - but Destiny is actually a precursor to a lot of what gaming is today. Seeing the game and its sequel go through its many ups and downs with the bravely experimental crew at Bungie at the helm has been nothing short of awe-inspiring."

Dishonored 2

Tom Francis: "Games with rich systems, inventive abilities, and emergent outcomes haven't been in short supply this generation. But something magical happens when you have all those things in a first-person stealth game. When you're in the world, alive to it, afraid of it, creeping through its rafters and concocting a plan to break it to your design. Dishonored 2 achieves that like nothing else, in a world that feels captivating and distinct. And in a genre about giving you interesting spanners to throw into interesting machines, Domino is the most versatile and delightful tool we've ever seen. Link anyone to anyone, and their fates are shared. It opens up a world of strange tricks with double-kills, dropkills and doppelgangers, but the icing on the cake is how it interacts with scripted moments. Karnaca is bristling with scenes of cruelty and murder, and Domino makes it more than passive worldbuilding. Once you see what's going to happen, you can quietly link the bully to his victim - and wait."

Yussef Cole: "Refines everything that made the first one so special. Widens out the possibility space, makes it more fun and dynamic to perform in non-violent and stealthy ways. Introduces levels which are denser, and more intricately designed spaces. Even the themes see some maturation and development as we get to muck around in the on-the-ground realities of empire rather than simply observe it from afar. Also the time travel level."

Divinity: Original Sin 2

Jason Schreier: "I'm a sucker for meaty RPGs like Baldur's Gate and Skyrim, and Divinity: Original Sin 2 is this generation's heir to the RPG throne. (Sorry, Witcher 3.) What really makes Divinity Original Sin 2 stand out is that every battle matters -- there are no filler encounters, and you're constantly making interesting decisions as you fight monsters, explore new areas, and uncover the game's sprawling story."

The FiveM mod for Grand Theft Auto 5

Brian Hicks: "Some might argue a modification of an existing title isn't a game. Some might argue that modders are not game developers. Regardless of how you end up on those subjects (it is, they are), you'd be hard pressed to deny the impact that the FiveM team have had on emergent gameplay and storytelling by content creators. Astute game developers should be paying attention to the phenomenon that is 'GTA Roleplay' and why the FiveM platform has fostered some of the most in-depth virtual worlds that in turn have created some of the most shareable stories in streaming and videos, reaching an audience that any developer could only be so lucky to garner the attention of."

Fortnite

Simon Parkin: "PUBG established the framework (or, more precisely, transposed it from Koushun Takami's novel to video game format) and, arguably, Call of Duty: Warzone has perfected it (albeit in the series' typically brittle, abrasive way), but it was Fortnite that shunted the genre onto culture's mainstage, a spot shared by vanishingly few games. It captured the imaginations of a generation of schoolchildren, for whom its candy-coloured, parent-friendly hills and valleys have become the digital equivalent of the local park. Lately it's become a desirable marketing platform for the entertainment megacorps, a thousand IP deals that have made the world feel a bit like a giant billboard. Its heyday is past (and the recent spat with Apple, which brought billionaire politics into the digital playground, has cheapened the fiction, despite supposedly noble intentions) but no game has left such a broad impression on the wider world."

Forza Horizon 4

Erik Wolpaw: "I love open-world caRPGs, and Forza Horizon 4 is the best one. I've heard some people like Horizon 3 better, but they're officially wrong. There's something to be said for the more streamlined Burnout Paradise, which I also love, but which is too old to qualify for this list. Plus, I'm a sucker for the grind, which Horizons has tons of."

God of War

Keza Macdonald: "My favourite bits of God of War were the off-quest explorations of mythological places. The fallen giants! Muspelheim! I also never thought I would have any kind of feelings about former lump-o-muscle Kratos, but here we are."

Gorogoa

Sam Barlow: "A piece of pure magic, awe-inspiring in its conception."

Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft

Greg Kasavin: "I played Hearthstone by far more than any other game this generation. This unassuming card game nonetheless is a technological marvel in how it offered cross-platform play across devices, and extremely quick and easy online matchmaking. Steady support from Blizzard over many years has ensured Hearthstone has stayed fresh, all while seemingly dozens of would-be competitors have come and gone."

Hollow Knight

Jason Schreier: "Sometimes a game just has a perfect core mechanic, and everything else is gravy. Even if Hollow Knight didn't have such a great atmosphere, killer music, and so many fun secrets, it'd still have the best damn nail swiping in the business."

Inside

Ralph Fulton: "The only game of the generation to truly legitimise use of the word 'Kafkaesque', with a twist that still shocks."

Into the Breach

Sam Barlow: "Only a handful of titles per generation can do for their genres what Into the Breach did for its - and in a genre that is so settled and so mature! Masterful."

The Last Guardian

Simon Parkin: "An AI companion is a dicey bet. One false move - a butting into a door frame, a blundering from cover - and the illusion fizzles. So it was with Trico, the minibus-sized creature whom you must cajole into aiding your escape from the tumbledown prison city where you and he are mutually trapped. For those players who managed to avoid those wrinkles in the programme that caused Trico to behave like a rogue robot, Fumito Ueda's beautifully observed pastoral adventure was exceptional, the perfect blossoming of the director's themes of power, vulnerability and cooperation laid down in his previous work. Those players who made it to the end were treated to one of the strongest, most affecting and earned endings anywhere in video games, a medium notorious for its botched or absent conclusions."

No Man's Sky

Rhianna Pratchett: "Went from strength to strength. Beautiful and utterly awe-inspiring."

Dan Marshall: "This is my most controversial choice, because I honestly prefer NMS how it was at launch to how it is now, which I am aware is probably heresy. I utterly loved the simplicity of it, and I get a bit overwhelmed with all the new additions. But, I have this story about how I found myself stranded on a hell planet desperately searching a grid I'd drawn out with real paper, looking for some element or other I desperately needed in order to take off, before another barrage of acid rain swept in again. It was perfect, it was thrilling, and it wasn't scripted. It is one of my fondest memories of the generation."

Papers, Please

Rami Ismail: "Papers, Please is in my opinion the defining indie game of the generation. It is clever, elegant, polished, and profound. It relishes in its restrictions, it uses clever ways to extract maximum impact from minimal resources, and it was independently made by someone who had an artistic statement to make but managed to mix it with a commercial intent so smoothly that that, in itself, is art."

PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds

Brian Hicks: "While developers had been having success with the Last Man Standing TDM formula that came to be known as Battle Royale for years prior to PUBG (Survivor GameZ, DayZ Battle Royale, H1Z1, etc) PUBG was the first title to enter the space and really get the attention of the industry as a whole. It is thanks to PUBG that we have such outstanding experiences such as Apex Legends, Fortnite, and more. A title that changed the industry, all stemming from some of the smallest mod teams you might find out there."

Pokmon Go

Victoria Tran: "I have never seen a game that captured the public's attention so strongly before -- and encouraged everyone to meet up and go outside! It all seems like a dream now (thanks, 2020), but there's something to be said about a game that had the ability to capture the attention of people who don't normally play games."

Keith Stuart: "A very personal choice as this game has been an absolute miracle in terms of getting my autistic son out of the house and meeting other people."

P.T.

Greg Kasavin: "There has never been and never will be anything like P.T., and I think it will be studied long after almost every other game this generation is forgotten (provided anyone still has PS4s with the game installed). If nothing else, it will be remembered as one of the strangest, most remarkable artifacts of this generation of games. A beautiful and bizarre cultural artifact, and a landmark horror game."

Red Dead Redemption 2

Keza Macdonald: "I remember my time with RDR2 as if it were an actual place that I spent time living in, rather than a game I played. The demented level of attention to detail makes this simultaneously one of the most awkward and brilliant games of the past ten years, for me."

Return of the Obra Dinn

Heather Alexandra: "If we're judging puzzle games by how unique they are, Obra Dinn takes first prize. Unraveling the mystery of an abandoned ship and reliving the final moments of each fallen crew member might sound a bit strange as a concept but it makes for a one-of-a-kind Guess Who? game packed with betrayals and monsters. You're not just solving puzzles, you're building a narrative piece by piece. Other games might be harder or test your quick-thinking to a greater degree, but there's nothing else quite like Return of the Obra Dinn."

Yussef Cole: "An incredible and unique piece of interactive art. Bold aesthetics which fundamentally determine how you interpret the game. Detective-style gameplay which feels reminiscent of the early years of PC gaming, but with many decades of game design lessons internalized. Stunning attention to detail and moment-to-moment experience. Something weighty and vast, a game that's more than a game."

Splatoon

Derek Yu: "Splatoon is a great example of how Nintendo's design ethos has successfully extended to the next generation. Developed by a team of younger staff, the game is energetic and cool - a unique blend of undersea life, urban fashion, and paintball that, like all of the best ideas, is only obvious once you see it for yourself."

Tetris Effect

Heather Alexandra: "Tetris Effect is one of the most life-affirming and wonderful experiences out there. Not just in games but across mediums. It is a distinctly unique fusion of play and music, laser-focused into a celebration of culture and creativity. If you told me before this that Tetris could make me cry, I would never have believed you. If you told me that Tetris could change how I view the world, I would have laughed. Tetris Effect does all these things and more. What else could you need?"

Keza Macdonald: "Tetris, but make it transcendental. A puzzle game about the wonder of being alive on this planet."

Towerfall

Chris Plante: "Please don't tell my boss, but I spent roughly 400 work hours playing Towerfall with my coworkers. I love this game so much that I spent the first 100 of those hours playing the game on Ouya. I don't have any brainy thing to say that justifies this selection. The answer is quite simple. No game has brought me more joy and built more friendships than this one. I'm forever grateful it exists."

Undertale

Victoria Tran: "I don't think I've played a game that made me consciously explore and experience human dignity as much as this. I laughed out loud, cried, hoped, cried some more, and then felt the most uneasy horror I've ever felt in a long time. Undertale changed what we could feel in games since it's come out, and for that it's on my list. I JUST FELT SO MUCH. Some say I'm still crying to this very day."

The rest is here:
The top 10 games of the generation - Eurogamer.net

Epic Games: Three New Free to Play games revealed on Epic Games… – The Sportsrush

Epic Games: Watch Dogs 2, Football Manager 2020, Stick it to the Man! Now free to download and play on Epic Games Store.

Epic Games continues its efforts to lure players to its store by releasing new games every week. Earlier GTA V online was made free to play on its store and it was quite the rage. Epic has continued this process by announcing 3 more free to play games.

Lets take a look at the newly announced free games

Over the years FM is released on the steam store. Fans of the football simulation game have only increased and it has become a cult classic. Now it is also available on the Epic games Store. Of note: the game includes cross-network play with the Steam version. You can also bring your Steam save game across to Epic and continue your progress.

The excellent sequel to 2014s Watch Dogs, Watch Dogs 2 continues your adventure as a computer-hacking vigilante, this time in San Francisco. It is developed by Ubisoft. Being an A-list game like Football Manager, Watch Dogs 2 is quite popular among players and fans.

This one is among the craziest side scrolling puzzle game. You are Ray and live in a world made of paper and stickers. After an accident, you wake up with a giant pink spaghetti arm sticking out of your brain that gives you the ability to change your world by folding, tearing and moving stickers. Now you can even read minds. So, stick it to the Man offers countless hours of fun.

In total fans can save up to $118 dollars worth of games this week. Epic also announced that from next week, RollerCoaster Tycoon 3: Complete Edition will be available for free. Players need to hurry up as the games are only available till September 24th 8:30pm.

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Epic Games: Three New Free to Play games revealed on Epic Games... - The Sportsrush

Successful Leamington gaming company is making a new game combining sudoku and Tetris in adventure mode – Kenilworth Weekly News

Screenshot of TENS! on the Nintendo Switch.

A successful games publisher in Leamington that has doubled in size in the past year is set to make its first foray into console gaming.

Up until now, Kwalee has solely been focused on publishing mobile games, having released global hits such as Draw It, Shootout 3D, Rocket Sky! and Bake It, which have collectively been downloaded well over 400 million times.

Now the team is set to release TENS! in late 2020 on Nintendo Switch, an updated version of the 2017 mobile game from Kwalee.

Kwalee describes TENS! as 'combining the tricky number puzzling of sudoku with Tetris-style block-dropping, before adding plenty of character into the mix with a single-player adventure mode, challenging boss battles and intense local multiplayer'.

It also represents a return to console platforms for Leamington native and CEO David Darling CBE, who as a co-founder of Codemasters launched classic gaming series such as Dizzy, Micro Machines and Colin McRae Rally.

Mr Darling CBE said: Within the past year, weve more than doubled in size and this rate of growth goes to show not only our success, but our ambition to keep creating and trying new things.

"As many of us are avid players of the Switch, releasing a game for the platform was a natural step for us to take.

"TENS! is a game weve always been proud of and felt it translated to these platforms really well, especially with all of the new added value weve built into the game.

The original creator of TENS!, Kwalees head of design and development Simon Platt added: Mobile gaming is still very much what were about here at Kwalee, but as we approach our 10th anniversary in 2021, we want to keep challenging ourselves and trying new things.

"Ever since the first release of TENS! back in 2017, we have wanted to do more with this innovative and fun puzzle game. TENS! for Nintendo Switch gives us the opportunity to push the concept further than ever before with additions such as competitive multiplayer and challenging boss battles. Im excited to see the reception and for what the future holds for us on the Nintendo Switch!

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Successful Leamington gaming company is making a new game combining sudoku and Tetris in adventure mode - Kenilworth Weekly News

Can You Break A Very Expensive Centrifuge? – FiveThirtyEight

Welcome to The Riddler. Every week, I offer up problems related to the things we hold dear around here: math, logic and probability. Two puzzles are presented each week: the Riddler Express for those of you who want something bite-size and the Riddler Classic for those of you in the slow-puzzle movement. Submit a correct answer for either, and you may get a shoutout in next weeks column. Please wait until Monday to publicly share your answers! If you need a hint or have a favorite puzzle collecting dust in your attic, find me on Twitter.

From Quoc Tran comes a curious case of centrifugation:

Quocs lab has a microcentrifuge, a piece of equipment that can separate components of a liquid by spinning around very rapidly. Liquid samples are pipetted into small tubes, which are then placed in one of the microcentrifuges 12 slots evenly spaced in a circle.

For the microcentrifuge to work properly, each tube must hold the same amount of liquid. Also, importantly, the center of mass of the samples must be at the very center of the circle otherwise, the microcentrifuge will not be balanced and may break.

Quoc notices that there is no way to place exactly one tube in the microcentrifuge so that it will be balanced, but he can place two tubes (e.g., in slots 1 and 7).

Now Quoc needs to spin exactly seven samples. In which slots (numbered 1 through 12, as in the diagram above) should he place them so that the centrifuge will be balanced?

Extra credit: Assuming the 12 slots are distinct, how many different balanced arrangements of seven samples are there?

Submit your answer

From Oliver Roeder, who knows a thing or two about riddles, comes a labyrinthine matter of lexicons:

One of Ollies favorite online games is Guess My Word. Each day, there is a secret word, and you try to guess it as efficiently as possible by typing in other words. After each guess, you are told whether the secret word is alphabetically before or after your guess. The game stops and congratulates you when you have guessed the secret word. For example, the secret word was recently nuance, which Ollie arrived at with the following series of nine guesses: naan, vacuum, rabbi, papa, oasis, nuclear, nix, noxious, nuance.

Each secret word is randomly chosen from a dictionary with exactly 267,751 entries. If you have this dictionary memorized, and play the game as efficiently as possible, how many guesses should you expect to make to guess the secret word?

Submit your answer

Congratulations to Seth Cohen of Concord, winner of last weeks Riddler Express.

Last week, you were helping the folks from Blacksburg, Greensboro and Silver Spring, who were getting together for a game of pickup basketball. Each week, anywhere from one to five individuals showed up from each town, with each outcome equally likely.

Using all the players that showed up, they wanted to create exactly two teams of equal size. Everyone was wearing a jersey that matched the color mentioned in the name of their town. To avoid confusion, they agreed that the residents of two towns should combine forces to play against the third towns residents.

What was the probability that, on any given week, it was possible to form two equal teams with everyone playing, where two towns were pitted against the third?

Since there were five possibilities for the number of players from each of the three towns, that meant the total number of outcomes to consider here was 555, or 125. Some solvers, like the Highlands Latin School statistics class in Louisville, Kentucky, analyzed all 125 cases, finding the number of cases in which two towns combined to have the same number of players as the third. The probability was then that number divided by 125.

Meanwhile, many solvers worked backwards, starting with all the different ways to have two numbers add up to the third, and then counting up the corresponding number of permutations. For example, the towns could have had one, three and four players respectively, since 1+3=4. There were then six total ways to assign these numbers to the three towns: 1/3/4, 1/4/3, 3/1/4, 3/4/1, 4/1/3 and 4/3/1.

In total, there were six ways for two whole numbers between 1 and 5 so to add up to another number between 1 and 5. Here they are, along with how many ways each set of numbers could be assigned to the three towns:

Adding these up, there were 30 total ways for two towns to be fairly matched up against the third. Since there were 125 total outcomes to consider, the probability of a fair match was 30/125, or 24 percent.

For extra credit, you looked at a broader version of the puzzle, in which each town had anywhere from one to N players, rather than just one to five. Just as the denominator in the original riddle was 53, here it was N3. But finding the numerator was trickier work.

Solver Nicholas Robbins (from Blacksburg, Virginia!) and Alberto Rorai both supposed that Blacksburg happened to have the most players among the three towns. If Blacksburg had two players, there was only one way for the other two towns to make a fair match (1+1). If Blacksburg had three players, there were two ways (1+2 and 2+1). If Blacksburg had four players, there were three ways (1+3, 2+2 and 3+1). This pattern continued all the way up to when Blacksburg had N players, when there were N1 ways. Counting these all up gave you 1+2+3++(N1), or N(N1)/2.

But wait! That was only when Blacksburg had the most players. What about Greensboro and Silver Spring? To account for them, Alberto multiplied by three (since there were three towns), which meant there were 3N(N1)/2 ways to have two numbers add up to the third number.

That was the numerator for our probability, while the denominator was N3. Dividing them gave a final answer of 3(N1)/(2N2). Sure enough, this checked out for the case when N equals 5, giving the expected answer of 24 percent. But as N got bigger, the chances of a fair match went down.

When the towns move on to softball, theyll definitely need a new system for assigning teams.

Congratulations to Mikolaj Franaszczuk of New York, New York, winner of last weeks Riddler Classic.

Last week marked the return of the Tour de FiveThirtyEight. For every mountain in the bicycle race, the first few riders to reach the summit were awarded King of the Mountain points.

You were racing against three other riders up one of the mountains. The first rider over the top would get 5 points, the second rider would get 3, the third rider would get 2, and the fourth rider would get 1.

All four of you were of equal ability that is, under normal circumstances, you all had an equal chance of reaching the summit first. You were riding for Team A, one of your opponents was riding for Team B, but two of your competitors were both on Team C, meaning they could work together, drafting and setting a tempo up the mountain. Whichever teammate happened to be slower on the climb would get a boost from their faster teammate, and the two of them would both reach the summit at the faster teammates time (minus a very small fraction of a second).

As a lone rider, the odds were stacked against you. How many points were you expected to win on this mountain?

First off, if there hadnt been any teams (i.e., all four riders were on their own), then the 5+3+2+1 points, or 11 points, would be evenly split among the four riders, on average. That meant you would have expected to get 2.75 points.

But the fact that there was a team threw a wrench into this analysis. Fortunately, like last weeks Riddler Express, this could be solved by working through a few cases. If you were Rider A, the other solo rider was B, and the two team riders were C, then you could concisely write the outcome of a race like ABCC (i.e., you came in first, then Rider B, then the two teammates). However, an outcome like CABC would turn into CCAB, since the slower teammate C would catch up to their partner.

Without further ado, here are the 12 total outcomes had the teammates not worked together, along with how they then finished by working together. In parentheses are the number of points you earn for each case.

Averaging these together meant you could expect 29/12, or about 2.417 points on average. Several solvers, like Emma Beer and Sandeep Narayanaswami, grouped some of these 12 cases together (e.g., one-fourth of the time you came in first, regardless of how the teammates did) for an even more efficient calculation.

Meanwhile, Phil Rauscher noticed that this result was exactly one-third less than 2.75, the expected number of points when there was no team. Phil took this a step further, showing that whenever there are N racers, you can expect to finish one-third places further back on average when two of your opponents are teammates. This is because your placement will only be affected when you would otherwise have finished between them (not when youre ahead of both of them or behind both of them), which happens one-third of the time.

The Tour de FiveThirtyEight continues to be a grueling test of endurance and cleverness. Ill see you at the next stage!

Well, arent you lucky? Theres a whole book full of the best puzzles from this column and some never-before-seen head-scratchers. Its called The Riddler, and its in stores now!

Email Zach Wissner-Gross at riddlercolumn@gmail.com

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Can You Break A Very Expensive Centrifuge? - FiveThirtyEight

GAMES OF THE WEEK – The 5 best new mobile games for iOS and Android – September 17th 2020 – Pocket Gamer

It's that time again! Time for another entry into our long-running GAMES OF THE WEEK series.

If you're looking for the best 5 games which have hit the iPhone, iPad or Android stores this week then you've landed yourself at the exact right place at just the right time. Lucky, lucky you.

With this article, we skirt around the droves of subscription services (Apple Arcade, Google Play Pass, GameClub, Hatch, and all of their friends) which have launched onto mobile platforms over the years. We also don't factor in things like Steam Link or Google Stadia which allow streaming to handheld devices - and would open up this list to almost every game under the sun.

What that means is that our list is a finely curated list of brilliant, fresh titles which you can download and play without subscribing to, or installing, any third-party initiative. Of course, there are some great games on those services, but, let's focus on the stuff that you can grab right now.

This week we've got everything from jumping arachnids to a physics-based wrestling game, that said we do also stop off at a sword-flinging arcade game, a beautiful art-puzzle game and a brilliant battle-chess game along the way.

Remember, if you're looking to check through some of our previous selections then you can always do that at our Games of The Week Hub, it's a great way to find games to fill out that empty storage space on your phone. Or, if you like your news in bitesize chunks, delivered straight to your palm then maybe follow us on Twitter or join our Discord.

Anyway, without any further delay, click on the big, blue button below to find out more about what we believe to be the top five of the games which released on mobile over the last week.

CLICK HERE TO VIEW THE LIST

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GAMES OF THE WEEK - The 5 best new mobile games for iOS and Android - September 17th 2020 - Pocket Gamer

All the Australian Indie Games Featured At PAX Online – Kotaku Australia

PAX is always the best time to check out what new titles the Australian indie games scene has to offer. Just because we cant walk the hall this year and meet everyone, doesnt mean there arent games to be played and/or Steam wish-listed.

So, without further ado, here are all the Aussie indie games you can check out at PAX Online this week:

Release date: 2021

Demo: Yes

Made for: PC

Link to PAX listing: X

Genre: Racing, simulator, strategy

Description: The aim is to achieve the fastest sector times using a combination of real time strategy and racing.

Release date: Q4 2021

Demo: No

Made for: PC, Nintendo Switch, PS4, Xbox One

Link to PAX listing: X

Genre: RPG

Description: A post-apocalyptic RPG.

Release date: January 2021

Demo: Yes

Made for: PC

Link to PAX listing: X

Genre: Action and adventure, horror

Description: Collect adorable creatures and explore a world where not all is as it seems.

Release date: TBA

Demo: Yes

Made for: MacOS, PC, Xbox One

Link to PAX listing: X

Genre: Puzzle

Description: A noir game about the beginning of the universe, with gods and puzzles.

Release date: Out now

Demo: Yes

Made for: PC

Link to PAX listing: X

Genre: Puzzle RPG

Description: A retro arcade-style game set in the bronze age.

Release date: 2021

Demo: Yes

Made for: PC

Link to PAX listing: X

Genre: Puzzle

Description: Not your typical colour-matching, balloon popping game. In Hamster Scramble you need to catch hamsters and throw them at the puzzle board in a race against time and another/or player.

Release date: Soon

Demo: Yes

Made for: iOS, MacOS, PC

Link to PAX listing: X

Genre: Action and adventure, puzzle

Description: This point and click adventure has a story thats fun for the whole family.

Release date: 2021

Demo: Yes

Made for: PC, Nintendo Switch

Link to PAX listing: X

Genre: Action and adventure, party, music and dance, RPG, simulation

Description: Its kind of like Overcooked, but with magical potions and Indigenous culture woven in.

Release date: Q4 2020

Demo: Yes

Made for: PC

Link to PAX listing: X

Genre: Action and adventure

Description: A 90s inspired comedy game about a murderous vacuum cleaner. Its basically your dogs worst nightmare (but it looks really fun).

Release date: Soon

Demo: Yes

Made for: PC, Nintendo Switch, PS4, Xbox One

Link to PAX listing: X

Genre: Action and adventure, fighting, party, music and dance, sport

Description: Who wouldnt love a fighting sports game that combines soccer and kung fu films?

Release date: Out now

Demo: No

Made for: iOS, MacOS, PC

Link to PAX listing: X

Genre: Action and adventure

Description: A cinematic visual novel set in a Melbourne caf where the dead and the living can mingle. (Editors note: Of course the only caf in Melbourne open during stage 4 lockdown would have people dying to get in)

Release date: Soon

Demo: Yes

Made for: PC, Nintendo Switch, PS4

Link to PAX listing: X

Genre: Action and adventure, puzzle

Description: Set during WWII, the Nazis have unleashed a curse and now a professor who specialises in the occult and his assistant must solve the mystery and save the world.

Release date: May 2021

Demo: Yes

Made for: PC

Link to PAX listing: X

Genre: Action and adventure, arcade

Description: Battle lunar-bots in VR and save the world.

Release date: Out now

Demo: Yes

Made for: PC, Nintendo Switch

Link to PAX listing: X

Genre: Puzzle RPG

Description: Solve a murder on Paradise Island, a world outside reality and objectively better than Love Island.

Release date: Soon

Demo: Yes

Made for: Android, iOS, MacOS, PC

Link to PAX listing: X

Genre: RPG, simulation

Description: Its an RPG where you get to play as a dinosaur, with couch co-op.

Release date: Out now

Demo: NO

Made for: Android, iOS

Link to PAX listing: X

Genre: Arcade

Description: A free-to-play 33 brawler with tanks and team play.

Release date: 29 September 2020

Demo: Yes

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All the Australian Indie Games Featured At PAX Online - Kotaku Australia

Cubism Review: A VR Puzzle Game With All The Right Pieces – UploadVR

In classic puzzle game form, Cubism is simple to understand but increasingly hard to master. But do its pieces fit together to form a perfect shape? Heres our review of Cubism, available for Oculus Quest and PC VR.

The basic premise of Cubism is as simple as it gets: you are presented with a wireframe of a 3D shape and several smaller blocks in varying (and sometimes odd) shapes. All you have to do is fit the blocks into the wireframe, making sure every space is covered, nothing sticks out of the frame and every block is used. Easy, right?

If youve heard of Cubism before, its probably in relation to controller-free hand tracking. A small demo of the game was available on SideQuest last year, with controller-free hand tracking support added when the feature was still in beta and very few other games supported it. The demo was great fun at the time, but in many ways might have sold Cubism a bit short. While the core gameplay is the same as that demo (excluding hand tracking support, which isnt available at launch), the real meat of the game comes in the later levels. And trust me, its a lot more engaging, and more difficult, than you might expect.

The levels are split into different sections, each focusing on a different shape type or theme as the basis for the wireframe. They start as flat shapes, then progress to folds, then pyramids, then a 33 cube and so on, each getting increasingly more complex.

The first few levels of each section ease you in, but the last two or three are always much harder. As you progress through each section, the overall difficulty gradually increases as well. I was convinced that the difficultly ceiling couldnt be that high for a concept so simple, but I was very wrong. The campaign wont last you hours upon hours, but the later levels definitely start taking considerably longer to solve. For some of them, I spent what felt like 20 or 30 minutes just trying out different combinations I couldnt tell you the exact time it took, because I became so mesmerized and lost in the game. Depending on how fast you are at solving the puzzles, your play time might vary.

But as the levels get harder, they dont get more frustrating, which is crucial. It never comes to the point where you want to rip off the headset and give up. For a puzzle game (and as someone who usually has a fairly low tolerance for them), its an incredible achievement. The concept of Cubism is so simple and never changes, so the solution always feels just moments away. There is nothing complex about the method of solving the levels if you can just place the pieces in the right position, youve beat the level. Thats it.

Its this simplicity that is key to why the game works so well you feel like youre always about to make a breakthrough, even if you wont actually solve the puzzle for another 10 minutes. There were several moments where I became almost possessed by Cubism, falling into a flow state where I just had to keep going until I found the right combination.

The levels fall perfectly into the pick up and play category of VR. This is a game that you can easily jump into for 10 minutes to solve one or two puzzles. It really hits the sweet spot of a relaxing yet challenging VR game that doesnt require much physicality or time.

The only real frustration I had was that positioning a block will sometimes require you twisting your arm into a strange position in order get it into the orientation you want. Its an incredibly minor issue (and one that the advanced controls, detailed further down, attempt to fix) but it still felt odd at times. You do have a huge degree of control over the orientation of the wireframe itself, which you can rotate and position however you want, but that doesnt alleviate the sometimes-awkward one-handed positioning of a block.

Another key piece in the Cubism puzzle is the soundtrack, which is absolutely perfect. Its simple, light and slow classical piano, which creates a relaxing and calming atmosphere. The music even fades out when you go to slot in the last piece of a level, ready to play the celebration music if youve got it right.

The piano theme carries through the whole game menu selections are accompanied by piano motifs, and placing a block in an invalid space will be brought to your attention by a soft ding of a piano note. It all feels very cohesive and is super effective at setting the mood.

While the game can be played straight out of the box with no problems, theres some nice customization options available too. Theres advanced controls (that let you rotate blocks with your joystick) and a dark mode, which changes the white background to a dark grey, if you want to avoid late-night eye strain.

Despite the SideQuest demo, Cubism will launch on Quest without support for hand tracking. However, an improved version of hand tracking support is planned to arrive in a future release. It will be a welcome addition for the Quest version of the game, and might provide a solution for some of those positioning quirks I mentioned earlier.

Everything about Cubism feels consistent and rock solid. It runs like a dream on the Quest, and the puzzles scratch that itch of being easy to understand but increasingly difficult to solve. The difficultly curve feels perfect and overall theres very little to complain about. Its not the longest game in the world, but that also means that the concept doesnt overstay its welcome. Theres also huge potential for DLC expansions in the future.

Just like its puzzles, Cubism is a perfect, complete package where everything fits just right the minimalist design, the reserved soundtrack and its simple nature all come together to create a really fantastic and polished end product. If youre a fan of puzzles that put your mind to work, then dont sleep on Cubism. It might seem basic, but solving each level is infinitely more complex than youd expect and the satisfaction you get at the end is incredibly rewarding.

Cubism launches September 17 for $9.99 on Oculus Quest, Oculus Rift and SteamVR with support for Valve Index, HTC Vive, Oculus Rift and Windows MR headsets. This review was conducted on an Oculus Quest, using the standalone version of the game. For more on how we arrived at this score, checkout our review guidelines. Are you looking forward to Cubism? Let us know in the comments below!

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Cubism Review: A VR Puzzle Game With All The Right Pieces - UploadVR

ARY AND THE SECRET OF SEASONS Review: An Adventure Of Puzzles And Problems – GameTyrant

When it comes to the puzzles themselves, they are definitely pretty interesting. Some seasons provide no water where there is plenty while others do provide water where there is none. This can be used to move around more easily throughout areas for both yourself and certain objects. Then you have the winter season to work with which will freeze the top of the water, even if that water only exists within the season orb. Utilizing these seasons in the puzzles was an awesome choice and easily my favorite aspect of this games whole set up.

You will also come across crystals that remove the orb power and cancel your season orb. These sections will test your platforming and overcoming skill, so be ready to think outside the box. But mainly, this is where you will end up using your slingshot the most as you will eventually gain the ability to shoot a season dome spawn with the slingshot, which became handy really quickly.

Given that the story and gameplay style is fitting for kids, the cartoon style used for the artwork is very fitting to the game. They did send out a patch for the games culling and processing issues, but even after the patch I still came across some problems. Dont be surprised to see the wrong season randomly glitch on the screen or for there to be lag in the cutscenes themselves.

Again, given that this game has an overall style that is for kids, the sound effects and music used was very fitting to the game. I enjoyed the music used and found it to drive that adventurous feeling that these games are trying to provide. However, I did come across a glitch near the end of the game where the music just stopped altogether and ended up with no music during the games final moments.

There are tons of side quests and collectibles all over the world of Valdi, so there is plenty of reason to go back through it. While defeating enemies doesnt provide any reward on its own, there are plenty of enemies around for the player to face off against if they want to. I can see players putting more time in this game than just doing the main questline.

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ARY AND THE SECRET OF SEASONS Review: An Adventure Of Puzzles And Problems - GameTyrant