Alternate history meets futurist technology and a meaningful story in Wolfenstein: The New Order.
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Wolfenstein: The New Order | PS4, Xbox One, PS3, Xbox 360, PC | Retail and download | $79.95 - $99.95 | Breaking somewhat with series tradition, The New Order looks to deliver a legitimately interesting world and narrative alongside its crazy alternate-history Nazi technology and solid (if very familiar) gunplay. Players that just want to shoot things won’t be disappointed, as there are ample opportunities to do so in a manner both satisfying and (occasionally) gruesome, but it’s the storytelling that sets The New Order apart.
In a version of 1960 overrun by fascism and institutionalised violence, protagonist BJ Blazkowicz is once again tasked with single-handedly taking on the Nazi regime, but this time it’s all couched in storytelling much more subtle and reflective than you might be used to in an otherwise by-the-numbers shooter.
Stunning art punctuates the pitch-perfect battling and jazz-infused futurescapes of Transistor.
Transistor | PS4, PC | Download only | $27.95 | Taking control of a voiceless songstress, wielding a talking sword and on the run from overlords of a computerised metropolis, Transistor drops you into the middle of its hacker-punk drama with no explanation of the narrative or gameplay.
The trust the developers put in your ability to work things out has plenty of potential to pay off though, as thoughtful exposition and the constant encouraging remarks from your weapon and companion make exploring the environments and taking on malicious computer processes very rewarding.
The combat’s a twist on a turn-based RPG system that Grandia and Final Fantasy fans will especially appreciate, where you can pause the action and plan out when and where to deploy your various hacking functions.
At least six concurrent playthroughs of Super Time Force beat up on this imposing octopus boss.
Super TIME Force | Xbox One, Xbox 360 | Download only | $19.95 | While plenty of games mess with the idea of time and consequences, Super TIME Force integrates it directly into the gameplay. Standard run-and-gun action is combined with the ultra-stylish ability to scrub backwards VHS-style, creating multiple instances of your characters that play through the level concurrently, essentially giving you access to a huge army of time-travelling soldiers.
While the novel system sounds complex, it means dying is no longer an annoyance but an opportunity to move back and do better, possibly saving your past self in the process and strengthening your attack power.
The best part of each level comes after its completion, where a replay shows your playthrough from a linear time perspective, turning your half hour of frustration into a minute of impossibly skilful destruction as a wave of your various selves pop in and out of existence to run all over your enemies. Hilarious writing and a cast of Saturday-morning caricatures is the icing on the cake.
Kirby's new hypernova ability is a force to be reckoned with.
Kirby Triple Deluxe | 3DS | Retail and download | $68 | Nintendo’s pink puffball returns with another adventure aiming more for simple fun and interesting ideas than challenge or complexity. As expected Triple Deluxe delivers a Kirby with the ability to float over entire levels and inhale almost any enemy, but what the game lacks in challenge it makes up for in charm and variation.
Each of the dozens of properties you can absorb by sucking up your enemies (from ordinary fare like fire and ice to more interesting powers like ninja and beetle) comes with a new set of abilities to learn and wield against your adorable foes. Kirby veterans will be pleased to know several new properties have been included this time around, including the ever-satisfying archer.
Flanking the main game are a multiplayer versus mode that has you selecting your favourite ability to take on all-comers, and a musical rhythm game featuring the grouchy King Dedede.
Fans of super old-school horror titles rejoice.
Alone in the Dark | iOS | $1.29 | Very clearly influenced by the work of HP Lovecraft, Alone in the Dark made a big splash in the PC gaming scene when it was released 22 years ago. Now, for anyone with an interest in the classics, one of the original horror experiences returns on iPhone and iPad.
Unavoidably outdated graphics aside, the main disappointment here is that a touchscreen is no replacement for a mouse and keyboard. Once accustomed to the less-precise control though, everything's here and accounted for in all its low-fi glory, to be enjoyed with genuine nostalgia or perhaps with a side of irony. The game sees you entering a dusty old mansion made of some very rudimentary three-dimensional shapes in an attempt to solve the puzzles and mysteries within and escape with your life.
This game is the progenitor of so much of what we now call the survival horror genre of games, and fans of Resident Evil especially will see a lot of very influential design here hidden among the comically bad voice acting and weird text adventure-inspired interaction system.