One of the most noticeable things about 2011's release schedule is the stunning decline in the number of boxed products to review. Outside of the obvious big name candidates like Portal 2, Brink, Virtua Tennis 4, Operation Flashpoint Red River, Mortal Kombat and Lego Pirates of the Caribbean, it's tumbleweed out there.
Out of the last 50 reviews on Eurogamer (at time of writing), more than half have focused on games and post-release content you can't even buy in shops, and it's a trend that's only going to continue.
Indeed, this week alone, three titles that might have otherwise been prime roundup contenders have been elevated to full review status - partly because Gatling Gears, Mount & Blade: With Fire & Sword and Hydrophobia Prophecy deserve our full attention, but also as a direct consequence of the lack of worthy boxed products being released. Last week it was the same story, with Bangai-O, Mythos and Cargo! all getting an extended focus.
How are you reacting to the changes in the market? Are you more selective of your boxed purchases now, and more willing to take a punt on several downloadable titles to fill the void? On that note, allow me to present this week's selection of downloadable goodness.
Is there a living soul who didn't think Machinarium was delightful puzzling genius? If there is, they're probably just being big old trolls.
Well, these contrary types are definitely not going to approve of the fact that this similarly adorable offering is also riding high in the Mac App Store Top 5. If, like me, you completely missed its original appearance back in 2005, don't worry. It hasn't aged a day - and is now cheaper to boot.
In typical Jakub Dvorský style, this wordless point-and-clicker involves plenty of patient probing as you try to coax a sorrowful gnome into rescuing his kidnapped pooch.
Much like Machinarium, the appeal is a heady combination of the game's beautiful art style and sublime animation, and the warm humour that results from messing around with anything you can interact with.
Sometimes the solution is far from obvious, and maybe the game could do a slightly better job of helping you out of a dead end. But, hey, Google is your friend, and more often than not, you'll get there in the end anyway.
If you're in the mood for a bit of old fashioned cause-and-effect adventuring, you should definitely throw some loose change in Amanita's direction. You wouldn't want a kidnapped dog on your conscience.
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