This Kiwi game has gone global on Playstation


A month ago, Sustainable Coastlines released a video game called Pick Up Quick! in collaboration with Playstation. The game allows people to virtually clean litter from Kiwi coastlines in Nelson and Kapiti Island and was populated using data from real beach cleanups.

Seems simple, right? Well, it is. But it’s also gained a bunch of traction overseas.

Since the game was released it has been played more than 3000 times in more than 50 countries and been streamed to more than 100,000 people.

Data from real litter clean-ups at the selected coastlines is used to inform each level of the game so players can compare the rubbish they collect with what was collected in real life. 

Leading the creation of Pick Up Quick! has been Stacey Bartlett, a 25-year-old school administrator from North Canterbury, with further expertise provided by Media Molecule. 

“I’ve always loved creating things, be it drawing, animation or crochet, and I’d been experimenting with Dreams for a while when Media Molecule approached me,” says Stacey. 

Dreams is a game creation system for the PlayStation 4, which includes Art’s Dream, a game developed in Dreams by said company, with access to other games and user-generated content.

“I’ve been playing PlayStation since I was eight so was excited to be asked, if a little nervous, but I worked closely with the Sustainable Coastlines team to try and make the coastlines as realistic as possible.” 

Stacey, who also goes by the username Ividusk, hopes Kiwis will relate to what they see in the game and look at ways to reduce their impact on the environment. 

“I want people who have visited Tāhunanui Beach in Nelson to play the game, recognise the beach and understand the scale of the problem and then take action to stop the litter getting there in the first place,” she added. 

Co-founder of Sustainable Coastlines and the Litter Intelligence programme, Camden Howitt, says litter is a major threat to Aotearoa and through education and grass roots action, we can tackle the issue at scale. 

“Across the country we’ve been mobilising Kiwis to become Citizen Scientists to collect the rubbish on our beaches and publish the data,” says Camden. 

“Pick Up Quick! brings that experience to a much wider audience, educating and inspiring them to take action on litter and become Citizen Scientists in real life.”

The Litter Intelligence programme has so far seen almost 350 surveys completed across the country by approximately 4,000 Citizen Scientists, but more are needed, particularly in remote parts of New Zealand. 

“The level of detail in the game is seriously impressive and it’s a clever use of our data. If everyone who plays the game starts thinking a little harder about their impact on the environment and the changes they can make, then we’re another step closer to solving our litter problem,” added Camden. 

“What Stacey has achieved is incredible, she’s a talented creator,” says Siobhan Reddy, studio director at Media Molecule. 

“We’ve seen some pretty wonderful creations within Dreams and this is right up there, the community aspect of gameplay that encourages education and understanding is really impressive.” 

“We’ve featured it on the global Dreams homepage, it shows what’s possible so we’re hoping it encourages people to get creative as well as think about their environmental impact – wherever they are.”


Vetrix is the VR Tetris Everyone Should Have in Their Library

Good VR games are rare, rarer still are decent introductory experiences to scrub VR users who are looking for a quick experience to get up and started with. Vetrix covers all those bases, and it’s only NZ$8 so you’ve got no excuse not to pick it up.

It’s dressed up like the original gameboy version of Tetris, but it’s additions to the formulae are enough to distinguish it away from clone status.

The last example of 3D tetris that is at all relevant was made way back in 1989 by the legendary original creator of Tetris Alexey Pajitnov. It was called Welltris, and it was the first sequel to what is essentially a perfect game, and well, it sucked. It really sucked. I hate it. It’s a top down view of the well, with the blocks you drop essentially blocking your view of what’s going on. For years the formulae has been to stick to what made the original concept great, and merely extruding the blocks a little for games like Tetris Effect, which admittedly is also a great VR experience. Fuck, yeah ok, I guess you need that in your VR library too if you don’t already.

Vetrix on the other hand has had the freedom to remove some of the key elements of Tetris to make a more suitable experience that uses the VR space to it’s full potential. The well is now two blocks deep, 8 high (?), and 10 across. blocks appear on a plate adjacent to the well that you then pick up and place into the well/playspace. There’s no gravity so you can literally place blocks anywhere, even in the very top corners. To destroy a row you have to fill that entire row as usual with the added challenge of that row now being two blocks deep. the rows above then move down one, as you’d expect. As you go along coins will appear in the rows that move into the playspace. These take up space and are essentially bonus blocks you get extra points for destroying. The coins are on a timer so you can miss out on their bonus score if you aren’t quick enough.

This leads to some situations where you have to decide whether you want to start building rows from the top, knowing full well that you could easily create garbage rows for yourself later on down the line when they eventually make their way to the bottom of the space. It’s very much high risk high reward. And so far it’s payed off for me well enough, last time I checked I was 3rd on the board for high score. These gigantic scoreboards are available to be seen at any time, as they loom over your arena on either side of you. One for each mode, Time Attack and High Score.

I usually end up double handling each block, grabbing with my left hand, rotating it enough for it to be in a comfortable position for me to make any more final rotations on the block with my right when I go to slap it in place. Everything in the world is adjustable, so you can grab the well and put it in front of you whether you’re sitting or standing, same goes for the spawn plate for the blocks. If you’re starting to get a messy well you can spin it around easily enough to see what’s going on around the back.

Blocks are all the standard fare, except no reverse versions of any of the blocks, because you can just automatically do that anyway when you flip them over. There are two new blocks though, a single mino which is super rare, but always a godsend for clearing out a garbage row that was beyond saving, and a new piece which would be impossible in the old game because it makes use of the Y dimension.

There are a bunch of different colour palettes you can switch the game between, meaning there should be something you find works for you. Personally I go for the brown saturated look, but there’s always the gameboy classic pea green if you want to really rock it old school.

I was able to get some complete newbies to VR playing it with no trouble at all, as well as some utterly drunk moderate VR users.

All in all, I totally recommend Vetrix. It adds new layers of strategy to a game I love, while also adding so many new elements and design choices it should really not be compared at all.


Diabotical Is Out Tomorrow & It’s the Arena Shooter We’ve Been Waiting For

I can’t help but write breathless clickbaity style titles for shit I really dig, and Diabotical is definitely one of my dug shits.

Recently I’ve been exploring current Arena shooters out, Unreal Tournament 4 is dead in the water after it’s dev team got gutted to go work on what would later become the Fortnite Battle Royale game mode. It’s main AAA competitor Quake Champions is loaded with Season Battlepass bullshit, and just feels… Bad? The gameplay feels crap, and I don’t know why. Even with decent ping I feel like death just happens at the wrong moment.

But fortunately for me I got in juuust in time to have a crack at the final Beta before launch for Diabotical a couple weeks ago. All I can say is, I had a great time. But I will endeavor to say more.

First of all it has all the ducking and diving mechanics you’d expect to see in an Arena shooter, rocket jumping, and quick dash to get out of the line of fire quickly. You play as these little egg robots with maps that look like they fell out of Overwatch. You can play with your robots colours and cover it in stickers to make it your own, with hilarious results. I forgot to screenshot the ahegao face I managed to get on mine.

Game modes come with your standard lineups of deathmatch stuff and instagib. Macguffin mode gives your team a little bit more of an objective to get a thing into the enemies base, with some brutal back and forth. Wipeout is a team mode where each death makes your respawn timer go up. The goal is to get a complete team wipe for a win.Menu-wise it has a shit ton of control stuff you can tweak, it’s ridiculious, but obviously geared towards the truly competitive. Basic stuff also includes complete control over your hud elements and their placement.

There’s a decent amount of weapons, with crazy button mapping, but eventually it starts to make sense. The game runs smooth as a dream, and I’m pretty keen to see how well I do in my competitive placements. If my performance in the beta is anything to go by, it’s going to be a real travesty.


Does Flight Simulator 2020 Show the Beirut Disaster Aftermath?

A lot of ink has been spilled over how great the simulation of the entire earth is in Flight Simulator 2020, but how quickly does it update? Well it uses Bing Maps as it’s primary data source which updates every 28 days. It also uses up to the minute weather and air traffic data. So with all those things turned on I set off to do a quick flyover of Lebanon’s beautiful city of Beirut to find perhaps the planets most notable geological change in recent memory. The explosion ripped through the city on the 4th of August and shocked the world. This disaster took too many people with it and served as an exclamation mark for protesters over how authorities there are corrupt as well as criminally negligent.

I guess I could have saved us all some time by just going and Binging it but what’s the point in having this state of the art flight simulator if I didn’t find something to do with it.

It’s a beautiful day there at the moment and Beirut Airport is only a couple minutes south of the city, so going due north from takeoff got me to ground zero in no time.

It looks like currently the maps have not updated and the aftermath of the Beirut explosion is not yet visible inside Flight Simulator. Notably the grain silo that withstood the explosion has had it’s height miscalculated. However, these shots are a document of a less painful time, a snapshot of the past when mushroom clouds were something taken on 16mm film in the pacific, and not on iPhones from peoples homes.


Warframe Photo Tour

The following imageset contains spoilers for anyone who hasn’t dropped like 100 hours into Warframe. With that said all those shots were taken in 2018, so this is all your own fault if you haven’t uncovered these secrets yet. If you haven’t played Warframe before though and you’re planning to, I suggest skipping this post till you have.

I’ve dropped a ton of time into Warframe and have still only scratched the surface of what it has to offer which vets who have spent 5000 hours in it will tell you is “nothing!”. I’ve seen this weird unattainable desire from gamers wishing their game had infinite content, but I don’t think there is any hobby or mechanical ruleset on this planet that could possibly keep the human mind sated that long without eventually crumbling into an existential crisis. If you can spend thousands of hours in a thing before getting bored, that seems about as reasonable a lifespan as you can hope to achieve with anything manmade. Especially if it’s F2P.

I fell out of the Warframe cycle after getting burned out when Nightwave got introduced. I aced season 2 I believe and then cut and run, popping in occasionally to see the new stuff. Season stuff kind of fucks me up playing games. If the reward at the end seems good enough I’ll grind myself into a fine powder trying to get it, destroying anything I like about it. That’s currently what I’m doing with Black Desert, and it’s what I’ve done in the past for PUBG and Fortnite. To a lesser degree Overwatch, but that was much lower stakes, getting the 3 loot boxes from arcade each week.

But I’m pretty happy to check out the new world getting released at the end of this month, it sounds pretty trippy what with day night cycles controlled by giant worms. hopefully I can take some good shots. As long as I don’t burn myself out grinding rep with the local factions.


Playing Black Desert Online in 2020, a newbies opinion

Recently I jumped back into Tera, only to be told that “what are you, some sort of fucking idiot? If you aren’t queuing for dungeons what are you even doing with your life?”

What that translates to is relegating the open world to a lobby you hang out in till you’re ready to jump into an instance with 2 other people for some crazy experience. It sort of kills what I love  about MMOs, mostly the Massively Multiplayer bit. Sure the giant world is still there but, I dunno. The wind has gone out of the sails there. So I struck out to look for a new MMO.

(Most if not all screenshots in this post are taking with Remastered settings turned on.)

I picked up Black Desert Online a while ago while it was on a sale (checks email receipts) for $6 at the beginning of 2018. Holy shit. At the time I bounced off it pretty hard because I was barraged by menus and a bunch of systems that looked scary and deep. I made it to the first camp after the tutorial and quit. I installed it two more times over the next couple years and usually looked around for a little bit before uninstalling again. The hole that Tera left in me needed filling though so a couple weeks ago I tried one more time. I decided I’d just concentrate on the little prompts it gave me for quests and just tunnel vision my way through, not letting myself get bogged down too much. It payed off! And after looking at some beginners intro videos later on, it seems to be the advice everyone gives going in.

This game can only be described as lush. You’ll be walking down a believably bustling street and then find out you can push a door open to a busy tavern full of sailors waiting to be hired, all without hitting any loading screens. There’s just so much happening! The amount of different animations that have gone into this game is astounding, right up there with the best open world single player RPGs. Did they really need to do animations of an Orc patting its child on the back sitting by the campfire moments before I blitz through to farm XP? There’s a performance setting to turn down how many players are on screen, but with the amount of NPCs inhabiting this world, I don’t think you could feel lonely even if no one else ever logged in.

The world is pumping though. Player driven carts storm past laden with goods, AFK fishers clog waterways and ports, and dozens of people are clumped around the trade market NPC, who acts as your portal to all the goods you can buy and sell on the open market, setting trade buy and sell orders for the things you have made, gathered, or mined.

Combat is really well done, maybe one of the most engaging I’ve had in an MMO. Your discouraged from binding attacks, instead operating on button combos like you’re playing Tekken Lite. No point and click humdrumness here.

The main story questline is a bit garbled, but it feels natural enough leading me around the world so far. Bumping into sidequests is always fun as well, and doesn’t feel as gross checkboxy as some MMOs do for some reason. The quest rewards can be pretty sweet though, giving you plenty of scrolls for timed XP bonuses and more inventory slots. In about two weeks of veeeery casual playing I’ve made it to about level 40. I’m on a growth newbie server which means I can’t be PVP’d by anyone and they go ham raining XP bonuses on me. Oh yeah, there’s PVP and apparently you can’t turn it off, It’s just that kind of game and you have to deal with it. Although apparently there’s no real penalty for dying to another player, and they lose karma for doing it.

There appears to be little to no instancing in this game, everything you do occurs in the main world. There’s no fast travelling, but the game encourages you for having plenty of alt characters, which are considered all part of your “family” and can all work toward common goals. You can easily share items and stuff between them, and veterans have alts parked all over the world so they can easily jump into them to complete a task. For instance people generally have one character set up as a cook, who never leaves any one of the houses you own to do cooking that supports your workforce of NPCs who are literally out there in the world farming, carting, or gathering for you.

You need housing for NPCs, and fortunately you can buy pretty much any building you can see. You can have up to five as personal lodgings that you can go all Sims on in terms of furniture and work stations. Then the rest you can turn into factories for your workers to slave away in. I haven’t dived into it yet, but creating a well oiled machine of a trade empire seems to be a big part of the game for a lot of people.

Exploring is rewarding, with this thing called a node system, which is generally an NPC you can talk to that creates connections between all the places in the world for you. Connecting nodes between two cities for example means you can create a trade route, or move items between the separate banks which are in each city. Striking out into the wild a little and you can find hidden nodes that unlock a regions crops or mines for you to send your workers to.

For a game with such a good combat system you can go a long time between fights if you want to, instead grinding life skills, or chatting to NPCs. Exploring a city and talking to all the NPCs gives you knowledge of the area, and gives you something to talk about to other NPCs. Talking shit to them about their friends down the road can make them more friendly toward you and open up new questlines and shops.

I’ve gone 800 words without even talking about the graphics, which are fucking beautiful, and ironically about the only thing I have a problem with at this stage. There’s plenty of graphic settings so you should be able to get this running on a potato if you have to. There’s also two hyper settings, one of them called exactly that, which will cut your framerate in half easily, even on a beast of a machine. The other is the Remastered mode, which at first blush just makes all the boobies shiny and cranks up the exposure (of light, not the boobies, you need to pay good money for that), but at the same time makes water, grass, and armour look delicious. I have found that even on the lowest settings my gaming rig can chug when I walk into the main square of major cities full of players and NPCs alike.

It also has atrocious pop-in, and not just in the distance either, shit will be popping in and out right up until you’re right next to it. It’s kinda fucked. But that seems to be the price we pay for having zero loading screens after booting up the game.

I think it says something about a game when I say I was worried I was going to hit level cap too soon. Well it turns out there’s no level cap, although they make it practically impossible to level very fast after a certain point with things really slowing down after you hit 56 and no lifers making it to the insane heady heights of 65.

People kind of see this game as an oddity, and are demanding things like raids and dungeons so it can be like every single other MMO out at the moment. But honestly to me, it feels more oldschool than anything else. It feels like Runescape of all things (controversial I know, I’ve seen people pick up their pitchforks over that comparison)Except with graphics that are adamantly trying to melt your GPU. Watching “quality of life features” added to a bunch of my favourite MMOs over the years have only really put them on life support, and for some of those, their plug has been pulled. Maple Story 2, I’m looking at you, and I’m vibing the end of Tera as well soon enough. But for now I’ll be AFK fishing on Black Desert while on company time.


The Last of Us 2, is it Worth it?

The Last Of Us was a Playstation 3 swansong, released some six months before the Playstation 4. It garnered rave reviews and was quickly re-released on the newer console. Seven years later and we have a sequel arriving in a similar set of circumstances. Worth the wait?

TLOU2 picks up four years after the original, with Joel and Ellie having built something of a life in Jackson, Wyoming. Without giving too much away (presuming you’ve not played the game and avoided the huge pre-release storyline leak), shit hits the fan pretty fast and soon you’re diving into the post-apocalyptic, zombie-infested world on a quest for revenge. 

The first ten or twenty minutes of the game are spent gazing at the sun shafts piercing through foliage, how water reacts to a character walking through it or how good the lighting effects are. That’s standard fare for a big AAA release like this but, thankfully, I didn’t spot the immediate demonstration of how good the shadows are. That’s the “slowly rotating fan with a backlight to show how the blades cast a shadow”, for those unaware.

It’s funny, sometimes it feels like developers like Naughty Dog grew up at the same rate millennials like myself did. I grew up on Crash Bandicoot and as Naughty Dog, the Playstation and myself moved into new phases in life, the games became more adult. Consider Jak and Daxter which, despite being cartoonish and fun, was more mature than Crash. Then came Uncharted, which was all the best parts of Indiana Jones with none of the copyright infringement. Finally, we have The Last Of Us, which is so grown-up it barely has a UI.

That maturity is reflected in TLOU2, which is so detailed at times it almost forces you to stop and explore. I noted early on that one particular shop in the deserted city of Seattle was quite a long ‘side mission’, complete with lore, supplies and collectables, and it probably went completely unexplored by a lot of players. There is so much effort put into this game that can easily go unseen. 

Every gate you pass through opens up more to explore, more stuff to find and more to get depressed over. Because damn, this is a sad future. Little notes from long-dead people condense the slow descent into insanity into a five-second read, remarks about “man, they got tortured bad” upon finding a body and the constant, quietly frantic need to find ammunition just to survive are constant. But, at the same time, Ellie and other characters aren’t completely desensitized to it, because they’re still human. Breaking up the desperate fighting for her life are interludes of mournful acoustic guitar playing, freakouts befitting a normal teenager and dealing with loss. 

It’s a fantastic game. It’s not perfect though; I felt like stealth killing an enemy should drop at least a bit of ammo, given I know they have it, the pace can be somewhat slow at times and some of the mechanics (like jumping a gap) felt a bit janky but those are easy things to get over. What the game does right more than makes up for it. Possibly the biggest tick is making Ellie gay, something that got a lot of bigots very angry. Unfortunately, they review bombed TLOU2 on aggregate websites like Metacritic, despite this being 2020. I guess the sexual orientation of a video game protagonist is the worst thing to happen to these idiots all year… Despite it being 2020. Naughty Dog is definitely in the right here and I’m bloody glad it hasn’t retconned anything in light of the backlash.

So, worth the wait? Definitely. Like I said, it’s not a completely polished gem of a game but man, it’s hard to think of another game that comes close. Certainly nothing from this year so far.


Control – Photo Tour

I recently picked up Control during the Epic Sale, it’s been a game I’ve had my eye on for a while, snaking into my field of view via the various architecture blogs, podcasts, and videos I occasionally visit.

All these screenshots were taken ingame with no added filters, and not during any cutscenes, only using the ingame photo mode which allows free camera control.

It’s a mint game, letting you explore The Oldest House, a monolithic piece of brutalist architecture located somewhere in New York, but can only be found by people looking for it. It’s exterior (as well as the design philosophy of the enterior) is inspired by the Long Lines Building, which itself has mysteries revolving around it. People think it might be the location of an NSA mass surveillance operation codenamed TITANPOINTE.

But back to the game, you play Jesse Faden, a girl who’s just showed up to the Bureau of Control to chat to them about why they ran off with her brother when they were kids. It’s an X-Files style government agency which is doing it’s best to keep the oldest house and it’s denizens contained. I’m geeking out about the mythology of this place because it’s honestly the greatest part about the whole game. The Oldest House is one of those rare but beautiful examples of the world itself being a character.

The game does a good balance of upgrading your character without getting bogged in menus, and over the course of your playthrough you pick up the ability to throw things around the room (possibly the most OP ability, especially when you’re catching rockets and grenades out of middair and hiffing them back), mind control, flight, shielding, and a couple others I may have forgotten.

Combat is generally fun up until a boss fight, where you can expect to be severly punished for being shit at games. Your health bar isn’t the most resilient thing in the world, and you’re just a cute redhead, you can’t take many hits. And if you do, the only way to regen health is by killing dudes and grabbing the health pickups they drop, forcing you to be aggressive in your movement.

The storyline for the main campaign (prior to the DLC story stuff which picks up directly after where it leaves off) is a bit rushed. It feels like you do a big finalle and then you literally get a voiceover going “and then all the shit sorted itself out and also there’s a bunch of questions we dangled in front of you that we’ll never answer, lol.”

Soundtrack is so-so, with only one exception when a decent track comes on during a run and gun delve through an infinitely shifting hotel.

But apart from that, it’s a greatride, which I can recommend to anyone who likes the idea of the potentiality of everyday objects being the portals to other worlds.


An Amateurs Guide on How to fix Systemic Racism in the States

This morning, after reading the headlines I was left sitting on my commute wondering, how the fuck do you fix the situation? And I mean at a base level. Say you were the president of the USA, instead of the enraged chimp who currently presides, what could you actually do? Magically turn off racism? I turned to the only person I knew who would be presumptive enough to have any answers, Kristof. He has no formal education in these matters and has no right to be listened to, but in this day and age when has that ever stopped anyone?

How does one fix systemic racism in the national police force. I feel like any actual steps that institutions would take in real life would not placate the mobs :/

I think these particular riots could have been defused early on (and perhaps even now) by charging all the officers involved in the George Floyd incident. The bigger picture… It’s obviously very tough.

The officer that got him got charged like, 3 days after right? That’s like 3 months quicker than usual.

There were 3 other police officers who stood by and did nothing. No charges have been brought against them at all.

Now, on systemic racism found in the US justice system and the normalisation of violence against black people:

The issue here isn’t so much that the system is racist. It’s that many of the people within that system (talking about the police force now) are racist. This is mainly because they are drawn from the general population, many of whom are (surprise) racist to one degree or another. (bear with me, this is going to take a while)

If my question took more than one paragraph to answer I’d be calling bullshit. so consider me beared.

So if you’re looking to tackle racist attitudes and mindsets within the police force, you really have to begin with the whole population. Which I’m sure you’ll see is just not possible, short of incremental changes over the course of centuries, and that only with the right kind of leadership, in successive governments. Good fucking luck. However:

That’s not to say that something can’t be done. I believe any effective answer rests not on targeting racism, but in aiming toward two other things:

One is independent accountability for the police. This would not be particularly easy in the United States, as it doesn’t actually have a national police force (unless you count the FBI) but 50 different state police forces. However, I believe it would not be legislatively impossible with the right political will (coming from both Congress and the President). A national, independent body which assessed allegations of police misconduct, and passed on its findings directly to the courts. This would avoid much of the “we had an internal review and it’s pretty much fine, forget about it” bullshit that goes on.

A bit like the one NZ has right?


Secondly, the culture within the American police forces needs to change. While of course there are good, conscientious, compassionate officers, I think you’d be hard pressed to deny that many in the US go into the police so they can, not to put too fine a point on it, swing their dick around and play soldiers. The main issue with the soldier mindset is that it’s based on an adversarial model. Them and us. Enemies and allies. That is not what the police force should be. Their motto is protect and serve – but many people feel they need to be protected from the police, and we have seen that thrown into stark relief with recent events. The police should not treat, or think of, the public as their enemy. How would this kind of culture change be enacted?

I believe that an image overhaul, combined with fundamental changes to their training programs, would be a start. In terms of image, in recruiting and how senior police communicate with the public, take away all the “fuck yeah, let’s serve some justice, getting the job done” gung-ho type rhetoric, and replace it with a strong emphasis on building safe communities, showing practical compassion, and caring for those who can’t care for themselves. To the type of people who are looking for an ego boost and a power trip, this will make a career in the police look like it’s for pussies. It’s not going to play into that Rambo power buzz. And of course if criminals get the same impression, they won’t have it for long, because you’re not going to take away guns from the police in America, and they will still be trained to use them effectively. But they’ll realise that because they’re on the sharp end of it, not because cops are talking big on TV and recruitment ads look like male macho porn. As to the training, overhauls around dealing with potentially life threatening situations are clearly required, but I feel like I’m not qualified to specify exactly how this should best change.

Thank you for coming to my TED talk.

How many terms would Obama need to serve to make this happen?

A black president won’t change a thing. 🙁

But with Obama and a supportive Congress, the groundwork for reformation could be laid within two terms.


Sludge Life Photo Tour

I spent pretty much the last week and long weekend chucking time into either Deep Rock Galactic or Control. So I wasn’t expecting that the game I’d be really wanting to show off here would be Sludge Life, a Devolver Digital published title which keeps Devolver’s strong brand pumping. It’s free on the Epic Store for a limited time, an entire year until the Switch port comes out.

At it’s core it’s a free roam exploration game about just tagging shit and talking to amusing locals. The world all feels tied together as funny stuff you hear from people is usually manifested in the world itself. Lots of people talking about a two butt holed cat? You’re gonna find out how that happened! (that isn’t even hyperbole).

If you ever spent time in games randomly trying to break the level or get up into spots that don’t look like they should be accessible, then this game is right up your alley. Along the way as you find spots to tag you’ll find items like hanggliders and cameras to make your life easier, as well as apps to load into your phone with an additional game to play, which really isn’t half bad, despite the NPCs opinions on it.

The aesthetics feel like Jet Set Radio and Tekkon Kinkreet had a baby together, and honestly, the screenshots don’t do it justice to how cool it is to inhabit.

Also the music is fucken kiiiiiller! Such good vibes, It’s done by DOSEONE, which you might be familiar with if you played through Enter the Gungeon or Nidhogg 2l. Anyway, you can find and support the OST here.

My only big issue with the game is that turn acceleration by default is waaaay too intense for a controller.

I’ve left the menus and stuff out of these shots, relying instead on the ingame camera to take photos rather than Bandicam or OBS.

If you’re looking for a chill out game where you can just explore and 100% collect stuff then you should definitely make space for all 666mb of it (was that on purpose?)

I just now realised that I hadn’t cranked the settings as high as they could have been, and I also turned off the VHS filter, if you find that sort of thing obnoxious. Here’s how the game looks with all that sorted out (just quickly jumped in and took some comparisons.)