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What we've been playing

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

30th June, 2023

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: alien worlds, ducks and New Game +.

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

The Invincible, PC

The Invincible is a very colourful game. I wish all sci-fi was this pretty.Watch on YouTube

There are two games The Invincible demo reminds me of. One is Call of the Sea, the mysterious tropical island adventure, and the other is In Other Waters, the otherworldly exploration game. And I loved both.

Like them, The Invincible is a walking-pace game about exploring a mysterious other place - in this case another planet. I'm not sure exactly where you are or what you're supposed to be doing, beyond looking for an expedition that went missing - the demo drops you in part-way and doesn't especially backfill the story - but it doesn't really matter and I expect some mystery is part of the point.

What you know is that you're a biologist who's exploring a planet while relaying what they/you find to a handler - your mission commander, perhaps. Every time you find something notable, then, you have a chat, exploring what your find could mean, and there are dialogue options you can play around with.

There's no combat that I've seen so your interaction with the game depends a lot on fiddling around with retro-futuristic devices instead. You flick switches and turn dials as you try to piece together what's been going on - and there's a neat mechanic whereby pushing the mouse sideways (on PC) gradually turns a dial. What was the former expedition running from? What is this apparently sedate planet really hiding?

So far, I'm impressed - I keep thinking about it. I love the golden age of sci-fi as a setting and it's recreated here beautifully, all chunky polished-chrome robots and transport containers that look like massive Smeg fridges. I also really like how slowing the action down allows intrigue to bubble up more naturally, and meshes the objective of both the player and the character, to find out more, as one.

I'll keep an eye on this one, then. I'm eager to see more.


Ducky's Delivery Service demo, PC

Ducky's Delivery Service - a duck delivering mail
Ducky's Delivery Service.

Finding this demo was actually a happy accident. It was a warm evening and I had a few spare moments to fill - what better way to do that than unwind with a game? Tears of the Kingdom was in time-out after I repeatedly got obliterated by a certain enemy, and Animal Crossing was not the vibe for that night. So, browsing Steam it was. And then the Ducky's Delivery Service demo caught my eye.

I may be a bit biased because I adore ducks. I think they're awesome and their little attitudes just make them even more lovable. In this demo, I got a taste of what it would be like to be a small duck with big dreams - to run my own delivery service. Granted, I spent all of my time in the demo in the first area called Oak Town, but I really felt like I didn't need to rush forward to different levels to have a positive experience.

When you first get to an area, you need to advertise your business by delivering flyers, which also lets you get a feel for the lay of the land and how many obstacles lay in your way such as windmills. Then, you can re-deliver the flyers in Time Attack to try to beat your own time or a set time limit. Admittedly, I spent a good hour doing this to try to get a Silver rank but, in my haste to deliver parcels, I may have seriously damaged the duck by crashing into walls.

After getting your business out there, you can deliver parcels. The bigger the parcel you deliver, the faster you deliver it, and how damaged it is will determine your overall score. If it's less damaged and you deliver it in a fast time, you'll get a better score upon delivery (something certain delivery companies could learn really...not bitter about a recent delivery at all). However, if you're feeling like you can push your ducky delivery skills, then you can always throw your parcels at the intended mailboxes and hope for the best. I tried this and the recipient was not happy after the parcel bounced across the floor. Low scores all around!

However, if that all sounds like too much stress for you, then the practice mode is just as fulfilling, as you can still fly around and deliver parcels but you do so without the threat of losing hearts when you bump your head or drop a parcel near the wrong house.

There's a wonderful simplicity in flying around to deliver parcels against a backdrop created by a rather charming art style. However, simple does not equate to easy or dull - the controls still pose a challenge because you need to be wary of bumping your duck's head on the ceiling, crashing into obstacles or flying into windmills. You need to do a good job quickly, efficiently, and safely - which turned out to be a lot harder than it initially seemed.

Overall, so far, Ducky's Delivery Service feels like somewhere you can go for a wholesome experience when you feel the need to dig into a new game without the pressures of defeating enemies or running from imminent doom. You can choose to be competitive or you can simply let the wind flow beneath your wings. Also, who wouldn't love a little duck with big dreams, wearing a propeller hat?

The full version of Ducky's Delivery Service is due out on 20th July, 2023.

Marie Pritchard

Final Fantasy 16, PS5

Final Fantasy 16Watch on YouTube

I can't get enough of Final Fantasy 16. For me, its mix of Game of Thrones, Devil May Cry and Final Fantasy has proven utterly intoxicating and I can't put the controller down.

I'm now in the process of a New Game+ Final Fantasy Mode playthrough, which so far hasn't been all that difficult. Enemy levels are higher, sure, but by this point so is Clive, and decked out with the best equipment. Most alarming is when big creatures rock up in early levels: I faced a chimaera in an early forest area that threw me.

The game isn't without its problems, sure. The story meanders in its second half as it moves further into fantasy (doesn't every game in the series?); its character progression and crafting systems are too linear; and there's a lack of enemy variety to force players to rethink their strategy.

But when it's good, Final Fantasy 16 really dazzles. The focus on character makes for a compelling plot, its cinematography and voice acting are best in class, action combat satisfies in its dance of precision dodges and flashy abilities, and it all crescendos beautifully towards the spectacular Eikon clashes. As a series, Final Fantasy has always experimented with its own boundaries, and FF16 pushes those boundaries further than ever. That's what makes it so divisive, but isn't that also what makes it so exciting?


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