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Plain Sight

Visionary?

Having to keep moving to survive in a deathmatch game is nothing new, but looking badass and graceful while you fling yourself around at top speed does feel weirdly novel. Looking good is, in fact, one of Plain Sight's party pieces. Each robot leaves behind a neon trail which gets twisted into curls and tugged into straight lines with each confused jump or furious charge. A scrap of four robots dashing and backflipping away from one another viewed from your own erratic, airborne perspective is a thing of wonder.

In fact, the first thing I recommend you do if you buy Plain Sight is turn off the chipper brass soundtrack, which totally undersells the experience, and play something big and beautiful from your own music collection instead. I went with Jónsi's Go, and the game was transformed. My non-gamer girlfriend called Plain Sight one of the most beautiful things she'd ever seen, and I think it might be the prettiest game I've ever played.

The combat's final twist is another wonderful piece of design. Shattering another robot like a stomped biscuit doesn't actually contribute to your score in and of itself - it only nets you their energy. Every robot spawns with 1 energy. Smash a pair of robots, you'll end up with 3 energy. If one of them then respawns and kills you, they'll end up with 4 energy.

The more energy you have, the bigger you get, meaning you can chuck yourself about quicker and travel further. You become more fearsome with each kill, basically, and each subsequent kill comes easier and easier.

In the future all games will feature only robots, and the idea that we shot at other humans for fun will be repellent. Probably. Maybe. Maybe not.

The way you translate energy into points is by self-destructing. A tap of the E key doubles your robot over as uncontrollable power (or remorse?) builds inside them, and then you detonate into a perfect sphere which has a size in accordance to your stored energy. Also, for every robot you catch in your blast radius, your score is multiplied once over.

This is a solid gold game mechanic. It's spectacular. There's the thrill when you've amassed a wealth of energy and are just looking for someone to catch in your lethal explosion. There's the exquisite pain when you're skewered by some little 1 energy robot a split second before you explode, and he gets all of your energy. There's the heroic "NOOOO" moment of when the robot you were hounding abruptly detonates at the exact moment you get your lock and charge straight at him, and you end up disappearing into his apocalyptic sphere and doubling his score.

Finally, your score itself has an extra purpose too. Any points you earn can be spent upgrading your robot (only for the rest of the match) with anything from double and triple jumps to a shield or a shortened detonation time. Neatly, there are three supercharged upgrades waiting patiently for you at the end of all the defensive, offensive and movement upgrades. Get all the offensive upgrades and you'll unlock the upgrade that causes your explosion to actually suck in nearby enemies. Nasty! The nice thing about this is that it encourages players to specialise, which is always interesting.

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Quintin Smith avatar

Quintin Smith

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Quinns has been writing about games for a decade. If you see him online, please be gentle. He'll be using a shotgun no matter the circumstances and will not be very good.

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