When a shooter is at its best, everything just feels right. Controls are snappy, shooting is satisfying, the environments are fun, and getting a “frag” is appropriately rewarding. Keep each of these elements in mind, and then toss PlayStation VR into the mix, and that’s how it feels to dive into Telefrag VR.
Telefrag VR is a 1v1 arena shooter from Anshar Studios, which is no strangers to finding success in virtual reality. We reviewed its last excursion, Detached, and came away impressed. This trend continues here; it’s very clear the team just gets VR. An arena shooter straight out of the past using the technology of the present, Telefrag is impressively slick on all fronts. Sidestepping and dashing are wonderfully fast, and it makes the matches more frenetic than they would otherwise be. You can turn the dashing and sprinting into smooth motion in the comfort settings, but even if you can stomach the smoother gameplay, we recommend not doing so. The game just plays better without it, and we found it much more fun.
It can’t get much better than making an impact with your very first title as a studio. Etherborn, from developer Altered Matter, is an environmental puzzler that makes impressive use of its simplicity while looking good in the process thanks to a neat visual aesthetic. It’s a great example of our initial statement, and so we can’t help but wish there was even more of it.
Gravity, its pull, and positioning are the three biggest factors you’ll need to consider while attempting to solve the slew of puzzles on offer here. Your objective is simple - reach the end of the level where a portal will transport you back a hub world that scales a tree - but reaching that closure is what provides the challenge.
With this third and final episode in Assassin's Creed Odyssey's The Fate of Atlantis saga, the story of Alexios or Kassandra comes full circle. Judgment of Atlantis ties everything together more effectively than we thought it would, and although we can't say the same for the modern day stuff -- more on that later -- this is a fitting end to the grand adventure of the Eagle Bearer.
As the title suggests, this finale takes place in Atlantis, a city where Assassin's Creed's godlike Isu race live in harmony with lowly humans. Or at least, that's what Poseidon -- Atlantis' ruler -- has printed on the tourist brochures. The reality is that beneath its pristine exterior, Atlantis is succumbing to the kind of corruption that's destined to end in catastrophe -- and that's where your hero comes in.
We're pretty big fans of Stranger Things, the hit Netflix series about spooky shenanigans in small town America. The sumptuous visuals, wonderful characters, and compelling story keep us hooked, and we're always left wanting more. However, as much as we enjoy spending time in Hawkins with Dustin, Eleven, and the whole gang, the game sadly doesn't hold a candle to the show it's based upon.
Stranger Things 3: The Game, as you might've guessed, is an interactive retelling of the show's third season, presented as a retro, isometric adventure title. While the presentation is fitting of the 80s themes and setting, there's very little to get excited about. Initially taking control of Mike and Lucas, you're guided through a gated tutorial segment before you're able to fully explore the town for yourself.
Dragon Quest Builders 2 is a delightful sequel that -- pardon the pun -- builds on its predecessor in a lot of welcome ways. This isn't a huge leap forward by any stretch, but if you enjoyed the first Dragon Quest Builders, then you're probably going to love this.
Right off the bat, Builders 2 does a great job of easing you into your new role as the world's most creative hero. One of the most charming tutorials in recent memory gets you up to speed with the basics, and from that point on, the game introduces new concepts and tasks at a steady pace. Titles like Minecraft, where you're given a huge amount of creative freedom right from the word go, can be incredibly daunting, and so the streamlined, story-focused approach that Builders 2 takes is brilliantly judged.
The EA Originals program has been going strong these past couple of years. As its most high profile release, A Way Out was a fairly major success thanks to its unique take on co-operative gameplay, while smaller titles such as Fe and Unravel have helped to somewhat diversify EA’s portfolio beyond sports titles and Battlefield. It’s a positive initiative, but it looks like we’ve stumbled upon its first dud. Sea of Solitude, from German developer Jo-Mei Games, has something to say, but its message drowns amongst an ocean of indifference. It’s just sort of okay.
Corneila Geppert and her team set out to create a game based on loneliness, and it shows. As Kay, you’ll explore a vast stretch of sea aboard a rowing boat - with the kicker being that these waters are inhabited by monsters. They hit a lot closer to home than you might think, though, as those beasts of the deep inherit the voices and personalities of Kay’s family members and closest friends. It’s an exploration of problems and issues that were right there before her very eyes, but were never picked up on due to the protagonist’s inconsequential battle with young love.
PlayStation VR is seeing quite the resurgence recently; it seems like every month in 2019 we’ve been treated to an excellent new game or experience to enjoy when we put on our headset. Sairento looks to continue that hot streak, and offers a short but sweet burst of ninja justice on PSVR.
Do you remember when you played the original Metal Gear Solid back in 1996 and first encountered the Cyborg Ninja cutting a bloody swathe through a corridor of armed guards? Sairento is the closest approximation of that, and good lord it’s fun. Playing as an enhanced ninja of a group called the Silent Ones, you’ll run, slash, and gun your way through enemies in their droves across the streets of a neon-lit Japan. A conspiracy runs deep within your clan, and you’ll uncover it one bloodstained mission at a time. All-in-all, Sairento’s plot is just the right shade of dark without feeling too oppressive, and despite the serious subject matter, the gameplay is easily the reason to blast through mission after mission in one sitting.
And breathe. Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night – the long-awaited Koji Igarashi-helmed spiritual successor to Castlevania: Symphony of the Night – is finally here. After a worryingly long gestation period, some Kickstarter troubles, and numerous delays, we were concerned that Bloodstained was destined to disappoint. Fortunately, you can rest easy: Ritual of the Night is fan-bloody-tastic.
In Bloodstained we play as Miriam, a woman who has awoken from a decade-long coma at the precise moment that an unsightly castle filled with nasty beasties has appeared on the horizon. Miriam is a shardbinder – a human infused with crystals allowing her to harness demonic powers – and while most of her kind were wiped out as she slept, she and another survived the cull. The other shardbinder has gone well and truly off the deep end, hell-bent on revenge against the humans who wronged him, and so Miriam must set off on a quest to bring his evil machinations to an end.
Sherlock Holmes: Crimes and Punishments is one of the most underrated games of the PlayStation 4’s early days. Its blend of personality, detective work, and hard-hitting conclusions should have taken the title much further than it did during a lacklustre 2014. That magic touch was most definitely lost on its open world follow-up two years later, but developer Frogwares hasn’t given up on the concept just yet. The Sinking City is the studio’s greatest game yet, but that only goes so far when the experience is never far away from a technical hick-up.
Something fishy is going on in Oakmont, and that’s not just because of the Innsmouthers that have taken up residence there. After a devastating flood cut the city off from the rest of America, people across the country have been drawn to the district through haunting visions and outbreaks of hysteria. Detective Charles Reed is one of those unfortunate souls, but with all sorts of sleuthing skills at his fingertips, he makes port and sets about cracking open the case.
We're sure the irony of taking a fake holiday within the confines of virtual reality isn't lost on Owlchemy Labs, a studio that revels in the absurdity of what it's making. Job Simulator was one of PlayStation VR's first games, a series of silly sandboxes stuffed with interactive objects and madcap characters. It's about as far from real work as you can get as you goof around, throwing staplers across the office or replacing a car's wheels with doughnuts. This irreverent, open ended play is exactly what you should expect in Vacation Simulator, but with some clever additions that make it feel like a more cohesive experience.
On the face of it, this looks like a pretty straightforward sequel. The game is comprised of three typical holiday destinations, as well as a luxurious hotel suite, that those witty little robots have cobbled together to simulate the human practice of vacation. It's all presented in a similar way; the floating bots want your help to engage in all kinds of activities across each location, and there's a huge array of things to interact with. It's wonderfully tactile -- even menus are integrated into the world around you.