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Review Backbeat - A Unique, Virtuoso Puzzler Steeped In Funk And '90s Cool
Sax, lies, and videotape
When you think “music game”, you probably think “rhythm action”. Well, Stockholm-based indie team Ichigoichie is here to confound your expectations with Backbeat, a funkily fiendish puzzle game about the intricacies of playing in a band. Ichigoichie’s first game was 2019’s Hexagroove, where they were already...
Review BROK The InvestiGator - Impressive, If Slightly Awkward, 'Point-And-Kick' Adventuring
Spinning bird click
BROK the InvestiGator gets right to the point: you begin the game in a burning room. You naturally start pointing and clicking to solve a simple puzzle. This leads to another puzzle: Alligator PI Brok urgently exclaims, “I need to get past that door!” Before your grey matter cogs can even get a-whirring, a dialogue box tells...
Review Colossal Cave - An Obtuse, Outdated, Unfriendly Reimagining Of A Fascinating Text
“You are standing at the end of a road before a small brick building. Around you is a forest. A small stream flows out of the building and down a gully.” Those are the opening sentences of the foundational 1976 text game Colossal Cave Adventure. Originally created by Will Crowther and extended by Don Woods, it ran on a...
Review The Pathless - Slick, Open-World Traversal Transitions To Switch Solidly
A Link to the Path
Having hit it out of the (water) park with its debut ABZÛ in 2016, Giant Squid landed The Pathless on PS5 just as the console launched in November 2020. The game provided the kind of audiovisual spectacle that would satisfy early adopters hankering after something to show off their next-gen kit, so you’d be forgiven for...
Mini Review Trek To Yomi - Arrestingly Cinematic, But A Trek All The Same
Slog to the Nether Regions
Years in the making, Trek to Yomi is the vision of indie developer Leonard Menchiari, backed by Polish studio Flying Wild Hog and publisher Devolver Digital. Essentially a side-on slash 'em up, its hook is its spectacular aesthetic: feudal Japan and the samurai code recreated through cinematic camerawork in striking black...
Review The Excavation Of Hob's Barrow - A Chiller With Echoes Of LucasArts' Point-And-Click Prime
Indy Jones bar t’at
‘Ey up, adventure fans! Are you hankering for a grave-robbing escapade reminiscent of Indiana Jones? But do you wish it were set in Yorkshire, trading jaw-dropping Incan ziggurats for drizzly moors? Well, have we got t’ game for you! The Excavation of Hob's Barrow puts your clicking finger in the shoes of one Thomasina...
Soapbox Crossing The Line: How I Helped Corrupt The Animal Crossing Economy
New Horizons for NMT fungibility
It's midnight by the pier. I check I’m alone, feel nervously into my pocket and count the money with my fingers. It's all there: 40 massive sacks of coins. Big pocket. I flip up the lid of the wheelie bin and dump the lot. 4 million bells erased from the universe and no one need ever know. How did it come to this?...
Mini Review Papetura - A Perfectly Crafted, Bite-Sized Puzzle Adventure
Paper view entertainment
The incredible indulgence of watching a blockbuster movie is that every second of it cost tens of thousands of dollars to produce. Each minute, a couple of million dollars of production glitz is poured into your flickering eyeballs, while you stuff your slack jaw with popcorn. Papetura is both exactly like that and nothing...
Review Inscryption - This Ingeniously Devilish Deck-Builder Is Still Ace On Switch
The delight of Daniel Mullins’ games is the way they obliterate expectations. If there’s a problem with having such a distinctive creative voice, though, is that we've been trained by his previous games to expect the unexpected. And that's why Inscryption's arrival on Switch is such a treat: as the first of Mullins' games to hit...
Mini Review Super Kiwi 64 - An N64-Style Platformer Ripe With Tricksy Energy
Is it a bird? Is it a plane? Right first time—it was a bird
Super Kiwi 64 feels like it’s up to something. There's a tricksy energy about it that’s impossible to ignore. Players of Siactro’s earlier games might be expecting that, but this isn’t just more of the same. Super Kiwi 64 is weird in its own special way, presenting a fresh guided...
Mini Review Railbound - A Cute Locomotive Puzzler On The Perfect Platform
You have to draw the line somewhere
Railbound, the latest title from Polish studio Afterburner, makers of Golf Peaks and inbento, is a super-cute puzzler of polished presentation and deceptively monstrous difficulty. It starts ever so innocently, asking for a little railway line to connect a carriage to its engine, and sings with toots and chuffs as...
Mini Review A Little To The Left - An Evocative, Imaginative Tidy 'Em Up
How’s it hanging?
Trailers, screenshots, and previews of A Little to the Left paint a picture of a tidying game about making things neat – and a cat interferes and cats are nice. That’s not inaccurate, but there’s a lot more going on in Max Inferno’s first game. Presenting you with one-screen scenes of real-life objects like books,...
Review Lunistice - A 32-Bit Platforming Dream That Gives Sonic A Serious Run For His Money
Ever since game fans collectively realised that crunchy polygons were worth getting nostalgic over, PS1-core indie games have been growing into the new pixel art. With Lunistice, one-person shop A Grumpy Fox has delivered a shining example of this modernised lo-fi aesthetic. Sparkling in chaotic but coordinated palettes of...
Mini Review Save Room - RE4 'Inventory Tetris' Writ Large, Though Not Large Enough
Ever thought inventory management in 2005’s Resident Evil 4 is like a game in its own right? Well, in the internet age, everything happens eventually, so here's that game. In Save Room from Fractal Projects, you have a limited and specifically shaped inventory space on the left and a load of guns and stuff on the right. Simply slot...
Review It Takes Two - Not Quite The Perfect Marriage, But A Satisfying Switch Port
Buckle my shoe
Marriage isn’t always perfect. Sometimes, as here, two presumably decent, hard-working parents, whose relationship you know nothing about and whom you can afford only the most general human empathy, find the joy of matrimony fades. So they must support their daughter as they carefully share their decision to separate. However, in It...
Review Voodoo Detective - Stylish And Low-Stress Monkey Island-Inspired Adventuring
Voodoo you think you are?
You may have heard of a little game releasing on Switch this month – a point-and-click graphic adventure featuring Voodoo mysticism, set in the Caribbean and with music by Peter McConnell, composer on Monkey Island 2? That’s right! It’s Voodoo Detective, the magical, mystical debut from Short Sleeve Studio, hot on the...
Review Return To Monkey Island - An Impeccable Encore For An Adventure Gaming Icon
Look behind you! A three-game series!
In 1990, Ron Gilbert created the seminal point-and-click adventure The Secret of Monkey Island. It grabbed hearts and hasn’t let go for 32 years. In 1991, he concluded Monkey Island 2: LeChuck’s Revenge on a bombshell cliffhanger. In 1992, he departed Lucasarts, and the secret third part of his trilogy went...
Mini Review Lost In Play - A Fantastic Adventure Game That Cleverly Sidesteps Genre Pitfalls
Lost in plaaaaaaaay
Graphic adventures can’t seem to settle themselves. Most new games seem to have to start at first principles and decide on their own verbs, loops, control scheme, puzzle types, difficulty, hint system… and it feels like there are more misses than hits. Which makes it all the more impressive that developer Happy Juice Games...
Review I Was A Teenage Exocolonist - Beautiful, Generous, And Too Nice For Its Own Good
I Was a Teenage Exocolonist, the latest game from indie publisher Finji, developed by Northway Games, is a nice game. It looks nice, sounds nice, features nice characters being nice to one another, and is so nice to the player that you’ll breeze right through it – for better or worse. This is a game where the sheer word count and...
Review Shin chan: Me And The Professor On Summer Vacation - The Endless Seven-Day Journey - An Irresistible Adventure
The NeverEnding Story
If “Kureshin × Bokunatsu” a) makes sense and b) sounds appealing to you, and if c) you haven’t already bought this game in the year since it was released in Japan, then we can keep this review nice and tight: buy this game! For those not residing in that modest nub of the Venn diagram, let’s see if you’ve moved there...
Review Strange Horticulture - An Odd Occult Puzzler That Blossoms Into A Fantastic Mystery
It’s a grower
Strange Horticulture takes on some big challenges. It’s a carefully authored story that wants to be driven by interaction, and it’s a single-scene play space that wants to create immersion in a whole world. It’s such a tricky line to walk between structured gameplay that’s interactive but dry and a carefully managed story...
Mini Review Hindsight - Another Beautifully Moving Hit For Annapurna
Don’t look back in anger
If you played the excellent Neon White recently and were surprised to learn it was published by Annapurna Interactive, brace yourself to be completely unsurprised with this one: they don’t come much more Annapurna-y than this. Hindsight is a story that plays out through gentle interactions, with no complex objectives or...
Mini Review Growbot - A Musical Point-And-Clicker, Superficial But Sumptuous
The Tree Laws of Robotics
Growbot is a good old point-n-clicker in the classic style: screen-sized scenes to be pixel hunted, each one providing some combination of puzzles, items for solving puzzles, world-building, and story progression. The loop is “solve puzzles, unlock more puzzles”, with the added pay-off of the explorable world growing as...
Review Blade Runner: Enhanced Edition - A Cyberpunk Classic, Compromised On Switch
Zoom and enhance… Yuck! Zoom out!
Cyberpunk is an inherently old-fashioned genre. Its iconic works draw on futuristic ideas that have either become unremarkable, like essential spheres of life based on tech owned by megalomaniacal corporations, or been superseded, like an obsession with cybernetic enhancements instead of codified social status...