Picture of Christian Donlan

Christian Donlan

Features Editor

Chris Donlan is features editor for Eurogamer. His heroes include Eugene Jarvis, Errol Morris, and Linus Van Pelt.

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Ubisoft has announced a release date for its weird and charming toys-to-life game Starlink: Battle for Atlas. The game will be landing on PS4, Xbox One and Nintendo Switch on 16th of October, and Switch players will be able to play with Fox McCloud through the entire campaign including missions exclusive to Fox as add-on content.

You'd think if anyone had an interesting take on a game like Cyberpunk 2077 it would be William Gibson. And sure enough, @GreatDismal had a verdict on the trailer pretty early in proceedings yesterday: "The trailer for Cyberpunk 2077 strikes me as GTA skinned-over with a generic 80s retro-future," he wrote, "but hey, that's just me."

Graveyard Keeper is a wonderful thing, even in its current alpha state. You can tell what you're in for just by glancing at the patch notes on the home screen: "Fixed crash when extracting brain/fat/etc." I love that breezy "etc." "Fixed camera freeze when talking to Astrologer." And the home screen itself is no less delightful than the patch notes: night-time in a medieval village done up in pixel-art. The edges of a church and a waterfall are picked out in blue, lit by the nearby moon. It is a calm, but somehow potent view: the promise of morbid adventure. It reminds me a bit of that sense of expectation you get wandering around Melee Island at night.

Tower defence games are tricky things, I reckon. At their worst - and their worst is generally still pretty entertaining - they can feel a bit like clicker games. You buy stuff and place stuff and the enemies obligingly shuffle on through your maze, but the challenge has been eaten away by the sheer overwhelming force on your side and so you're left just watching the numbers change - one side's health being whittled down, another side's loot slowly pooling. You get a hint of the hidden life of maths, sure - the way that one enemy, placed in the middle of a line of troops, will make it much further on their health than those in front or behind do - but it's an empty, sugary sort of game when the designer's attention starts to slide.

I am the absentee parent to a bunch of Poké-bullies. The only phrase for what these guys are doing - and it is a phrase I have had to dredge from ancient childhood - is duffing people up. They're at it right now, Poké-villains, Poké-jerks. As I type this, they're kicking in a Weepinbell. It is almost a relief when I run out of battery.

There is an easy kind of brilliance to Nintendo at its best - although I'm sure there is nothing easy at all about creating this sort of impression in the first place. Anyway, it's down to a sort of pulling together of all parts of a game's design, reeling things in until what you have in your hands in rich and coherent and easy to understand. Last week Nintendo was showing off its forthcoming single-player stuff for Splatoon 2, and the sense throughout was of that richness, that coherence, and weirdly enough, the welcome surprises it can allow for.

You could probably build a fairly tedious argument around the premise that video games have two key parental figures. There's pen-and-paper RPGs on one side, with all the stats, the loot, the character sheets and the narrative choices. And then there's pinball on the other, a sticky bar-room game that favours reaction-time and dexterity and intricate layout design, that rewards you - and draws you in - with glorious sounds and lights. Pen-and-paper RPGs gave us Baldur's Gate and Deus Ex; pinball gave us Mario and GTA (the original GTA actually started out as an explicit riff on pinball, I gather; a little of this survived via the in-game text that aped the wonderfully garish displays of pinball machines). Or, you could forget all that and play Yoku's Island Express, a platformer with more than a little RPG to it, in which you control a dung beetle postman who hops around an island not using a jump button and a dash move, but by bouncing from one point to another while being whacked with flippers.

Some things in life are so innately delightful that I just can't spend enough time thinking about them. Leaf blowers! Tennis ball lobbers! The little motorised food lanes you get at sushi restaurants. This last one, gloriously, has been the key inspiration for Sushi Striker: The Way of Sushido, a puzzle-battler that it's been hard to ignore since its hectic singalong trailer erupted onto Youtube a while back. I'm playing through the game's opening chapters right now - we'll have a review up soonish - and the whole thing is a treat. Sushi Striker does sushi proud, certainly, but it also does those motorised food lanes sushi likes to live on proud too. Hooray!

There is something about a bright red airplane buzzing over endless blue seas that is not easy to put out of mind. I saw a screenshot for Above a few weeks back - or maybe it was a GIF; this is a game that has a real power when glimpsed in GIF form - and part of me has been with it ever since, moving in low over the calm waters until my fixed wheels sparkle with seaspray and my propeller sends up tumbling cords of froth.

To say I bounced off SpyParty after a morning might make it sound like I did not enjoy myself, or that the game's many pleasures failed to have much effect on me. In truth, I found those pleasures astonishingly effective. SpyParty, for me, is the sweetest torture imaginable. I played a morning's worth of matches if that, even so, I felt myself teetering on the very edge of terrifying depths, and so I fled.

FeatureObituary: Rick Dickinson, industrial designer of the ZX Spectrum

"You had to be incredibly inventive and imaginative."

It's probably fitting that Rick Dickinson's interest in design was first kindled by Lego. Speaking to Edge magazine in 2004, the industrial designer behind Sinclair's iconic 1980s home computers, who died of cancer earlier this week, explained how toddler ambitions to be a train driver and a lorry driver were put aside when he discovered those colourful blocks with their magical clutch power. "Lego had [just] launched their brick system, in Denmark and Germany," he explained. "And since part of my family was German I used to play with Lego all the time." Building Lego bridges gave way to building Lego spaceships; the fledgling designer was already learning practical skills that would become absolutely crucial later on. "I built things out of Lego," he remembered, "but with it being a square brick format you had to be incredibly inventive and imaginative."

Dark Souls on Switch just got delayed

Praise the sun "this summer".

Bandai Namco has just announced that Dark Souls: Remastered is being delayed on Switch. The game will be releasing on PS4, Xbox One and PC on the 25th of May as planned, but the Switch version has been pushed back to "this summer."

I have no idea what the best Hitchcock is. I suspect it's probably Shadow of a Doubt. It was his favourite, so you'd think he would know, and it's got that glorious, time-freezing moment when Uncle Charlie turns to address you, mid-speech, eyes meeting across the ages and you feel somehow caught, somehow complicit - you feel the way, I gather, that Hitchcock felt his entire life.

FeatureWhy Fortnite should definitely nuke Tilted Towers

Snow-Balls have flown their Arcs...

This week's big Fortnite news - and there is big Fortnite news every week - is that Tilted Towers might be getting nuked. Well, not nuked exactly, but hit by a meteor, a biographical event from which it is unlikely to emerge unchanged. Meteors often explode with a strength measured in relation to nuclear blasts, and there is a lovely decisive finality to the phrase, so let's go with it. Tilted Towers might be getting nuked. And it should get nuked. Fortnite should definitely nuke Tilted Towers.

One oppressively hot October day in New York City, the writer Olivia Laing went to the Whitney to see Nighthawks, the famous painting of a diner by Edward Hopper. In her recent book The Lonely City, Laing talks about what it is like to see a very famous painting in real life for the first time.

FeatureWarGames is weird, occasionally boring yet somehow always fascinating

Thoughts on the first episode of Sam Barlow's follow-up to Her Story.

At the end of the first episode of Sam Barlow's reimagining of WarGames, I got to look through all the choices I had made along the way. And the weird thing is, I didn't think I'd made any. I was thinking of choices that paused the action for a second and gave me a decision to think about and then act on. I was thinking of the big (literally) show-stopping moments in games like Life is Strange. What I should have been thinking about, perhaps, is a question of influence. You nudge WarGames around while watching it unfold. You nudge it through the very way that you watch it. It's fascinating stuff. It's also occasionally boring at times, and generally a delightful oddity.

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.

FeatureFortnite on mobile: it works!

Now Drake could play it on his cellphone.

I have Fortnite on my iPhone SE. The complete thing? Well, the Battle Royale part, anyway: the part that is currently taking over the world. And it works! It works surprisingly well. It's a little more basic to look at and I'll need a while to get properly comfortable, but I suspect Fortnite might well conquer the touchscreen much as it's conquered everything else.

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