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Survive Mars? It took me the best part of a day to decide where to land. And with good reason: there's a lot of stuff to think about from the very off here in this wonderfully detailed planet colonisation sim. I'm not sure that on my most recent attempt at surviving Mars - spoiler: I didn't - I was any quicker at finding a parking spot than I was on my initial outing.

There's a sort of voodoo pelican guy in Flinthook - I think it's voodoo, and I think it's a pelican. Anyway, this guy lobs flaming red skulls at you whenever you meet, and those skulls! Oh my! Those skulls are just the loveliest things. They're like the skulls in Towerfall: 2D art and animation of sufficiently magical quality to convince the mind that you're actually looking at a 3D asset as it spins towards you. I could get hit and killed by those flaming red skulls all day. Just as I could be killed by the insouciant guy who throws blades at you, spreading blades that fly from the hands of an insouciant guy whose very demeanor allows the pixel art to convey with real certainty that this character is definitely French. A French knife-thrower in space, a voodoo pelican with an endless supply of skulls. Flinthook is special.

You hear them before you see them - the awful croaking of the flap-handed poison frogs, the cosmic rattling death-baa of a squat and villainous ram. It's a tiny detail, but it brings so much to proceedings: when you enter a new chamber, seconds after you find yourself locked inside again, a game about shooting is briefly, regularly, a game about listening. What's coming next? Oh god, it's frogs! Luckily, I have exactly the right tool for dealing with frogs.

Mario is a simple guy. He wears overalls and a spiffy cap. He's got a brother and a couple of close friends. He can run fast and jump high. In his various quests to save princess Peach, he makes use of all of these attributes and relationships, yet none of them tell us anything about who Mario really is.

The 4X game is the Sunday papers genre: you spread out, prepare yourself for the long, luxurious haul, and tackle this glorious unwieldy thing, thick with features wanted and unwanted and packed with colour and far-flung intrigue. Your favourite part in it will be some aspect you were not expecting, and yet the whole thing is wonderfully awash with calming familiarity. I am still surprised that the new Civ does not drop a leaflet for life insurance when you pick it up and shake it.

The noise of flies fills your ears as you step down from the highway in search of shade. The body of a great white bull lies sprawled in the dirt among bits of rope and broken board, his hide blazing in the sunlight. You approach, covering your mouth, and recoil. The bull's chest - it's not maggoty flesh but beaten metal, held together by rivets the width of your thumb. Through tears in the beast's flank you see swarms of tiny brass pistons, shooting back and forth in a blur. The bull raises his head abruptly to regard you. Then he clambers to his feet, creaking like a furnace, and ambles back onto the road. The buzzing rises to a peak. When the air clears, the animal is gone.

I have heard All Walls Must Fall described as a blend of real-time and turn-based tactical action, set in a retro-futuristic Berlin in which the Cold War never ended and where all matters of consequence unfold in the procedurally-generated nightclubs favoured by gay time-travelling superspies. Deep breath. Influences cover everything from Twelve Monkeys and X-Com to Invisible Inc, Superhot and - when it comes to the wonderfully grungy animation that chops together 2D character models and low-poly 3D backgrounds - the old Paddington Bear children's series that was so memorably narrated by Michael Hordern. It all sounds a bit complicated really. But it isn't. When you get into a fight here, All Walls Must Fall is gloriously, deliriously, skull-shakingly straightforward.

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