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What we've been playing

A few of the games that have us hooked at the moment.

26th of November, 2021

Hello! Welcome back to our regular feature where we write a little bit about some of the games we've found ourselves playing over the last few days. This time: crows, cards and a thrilling spin on Zelda.

If you fancy catching up on some of the older editions of What We've Been Playing, here's our archive.

Death's Door, Switch

Aoife and Ian's very enjoyable let's play of Death's Door gives you a good idea of early gameplay.

John Updike, in a quote I am sure I have used before, once described short stories as rooms on whose walls false doors had been painted. It's a lovely though, and one that carries across quite literally to a lot of games. I thought of this a few days back when I fired up Death's Door on Switch. Is there a better hub name in all of games than "The Hall of Doors"?

Even without such sonorous locations, I knew I was going to like this game. I am fully in love with corvids, those strange, rickety ingenious birds who seem to lurk on the edges of ill omen. To play as one is almost too much! And to play as one in a world like this, the colour drained away except for splashes of hot pink violence, an ossuary landscape of scorned cliffs and grey beaches.

The danger with Death's Door - and I knew this going in - is that faced with its intricate landscapes I step away for a few days and find myself unable to pick up the threads. As a result, I am determined to see the whole thing through in a series of sustained sessions. A plodding crow, I will move forward as consistently as I can, and see where the doors lead me.


Clash Royale, iOS

Champions. I won't be getting any of these cards for an age.

I've been off sick a lot of this week, lounging around with a non-Covid cold, reading Geoff Manaugh and Nicola Twilley's thrilling book on quarantine practices through history - it's called Until Proven Safe and it's BRILLIANT - and playing lots of Clash Royale, a game I binge on in between long periods of deleting it and trying to get on with my life.

Things always change in Clash Royale. Last time I played it for any length of time I had made it into the higher leagues, the themed arenas behind me and all the cards accounted for. Now I've been bumped down to the Rascal stage, and there are a bunch of new cards, champions, that won't be available until I hit the maximum level, which seems unlikely to occur any time soon.

But Clash remains a true joy: each three minute game a frantic blast of strategy and luck as I try to take down enemy towers before they can take down mine. I've been thinking this week about the Minion Horde, a card I don't think I have ever taken out of my deck: it chews through defences, and works beautifully with Clone when the wind is in your favour. In other words, I am so deep into Clash Royale now, I can never fully step away - no matter how long I delete it for.


Unsighted, PC, Game Pass

Unsighted is just fantastic.

Few things in gaming are as iconic as the puzzle chime in The Legend of Zelda, so to hear an almost exact replica in another game immediately pricks up the ears and tickles the nostalgia.

Unsighted, a game from two trans Brazilian devs, is indebted to Nintendo's series. The chime, the puzzle design, the dungeon structure - it's all there. There's even a spinner item ripped straight from Twilight Princess. And there's a dose of Dark Souls too: die and your currency will be waiting for you to collect if you can make it back.

Yet Unsighted also manages to transcend its influences. Its cyberpunk world is rain-soaked and mournful, a world where automatons have had their life energy sucked out by evil humans (of course). Puzzles and key items are well implemented, with chips and implants allowing for character customisation (very Nier!). Its pixel art is detailed, colourful and evocative. Its anime characters are full of queer energy, a lesbian love story fuelling the adventure.

And the music! The electro-jazz soundtrack delivers bop after bop, ensuring that no matter how many times you die against that tricky boss (and this game is certainly tricky), you'll be keen to dive straight back in. This is one of the best Zelda-likes since Hyper Light Drifter. Oh, and you also get a dog companion to fight alongside you. Yes, you can pet them.

Ed Nightingale

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