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What we've been playing

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

An Art Noveau-styled image of a feminine character on the edge of a fest, with a pipe in hand, peering out beyond the camera. They're wearing many layers of what looks like fantasy garb.
Image credit: Songs of Silence / Chimera Entertainment

6th October, 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: pizzas, songs, and witches.

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

Songs of Silence

There's a strong Art Noveau vibe running through Songs of Silence, and it's very nice to see.Watch on YouTube

I love this whole cosy game movement - games that aren't too taxing but sound nice and feel nice. They're the game equivalent of lo-fi beats to chill to, if that means anything to you, and I am all for them.

Landing squarely in this bracket is Songs of Silence, a fantasy, army-building, tactical, kingdom conquest game. It's in the same vein as something like Heroes of Might and Magic, to give you a guide. But it's not to be confused with the excellent and thematically similar Songs of Conquest.

Being a cosy game, Songs of Silence is lighter in terms of the strategical pressure it places on you, but there is still plenty of game to get hold of. There's army recruitment and upgrading, and making sure you've got enough reserves to manage longer campaigns and so on, and there's a rather unique take on combat.

It's all largely based around cards, which represent your units' special abilities and your magical powers, and in battle, it's these you play in real-time whenever their cooldowns allow you.

Your horsey units might come with a charging attack, for instance, and it's up to you to use it on a certain area when the battle is under way. Likewise, whatever buffs and heals and damage abilities you might have. You often have the tools you need to tip the balance of a battle, it's just considered timing and placement that's needed. So you see, there is some skill there if you're after it.

Beyond that, it's a rich and warm world - painted in a very appealing way - for you to roam around and find powerful new items and units in. All while characters talk to you and tell you a story you can pay attention to or not. Regardless, it's a pleasant place to be.

There's a Songs of Silence demo available in Steam Next Fest now.


Witchfire, PC

Double double, toil and trouble, Ian is rubbish at Witchfire.Watch on YouTube

There are plenty of comparisons you can make between Witchfire and other games. It's got the aesthetic and levelling of a Souls-like, its looter-shooter loop is like a single-player Hunt: Showdown, and its Roguelite merry-go-round reminds me of Returnal. Altogether, though, Witchfire is its own quite appealing thing.

In it you play as a 'Preyer', a kind of magic-wielding, gun-toting witch hunter, who's hired by the church to go to war with the witches and their phantom army. And that involves going into locations full of clusters of enemies towards a final boss who guards the area. Kill them and a new map opens to explore... Or at least that's what I assume happens anyway, because this game is brutally hard and even after about four hours of play, I'm still getting my (m)ass kicked on every attempt.

In typical Roguelite fashion, every time you die, you lose all your good loot and have to start again. The maps stay the same but enemy placements and numbers change each time you revisit an area, as does the location of your escape portal that takes you back to your home base, where you can trade in witchfire to level up. Witchfire is earned from killing enemies but if you die, you also lose that too - hence the Souls-like part. However, you do have one chance to go back and reclaim this currency where you fell.

Unfortunately, because of the difficulty of the game - which throws waves of fast, highly precise and massively aggressive enemies at you - and because of your characters' slow speed, pitiful stamina and ineffectual starting weaponry (you don't even have spells to begin with) you will die a lot. And this turns the game into a bit of a grind.

The only way to successfully level up in the early hours, at least, seems to be to use guerrilla tactics and fight smaller groups without alerting bigger groups, or higher level enemies, and then running away through the exit portal before you die. But this gets dull quickly. And even this approach can go completely tits up if a witch spots you and casts Calamity, which makes a fight ultra challenging and often ends in yet more tears.

I really want to love Witchfire but it's doing its best to drive me away with its savage difficulty. I'm happy to try for a few more hours but if it doesn't click soon, I fear it's going to lose all of its hex appeal.


Pizza Possum, Switch

Do possums actually eat pizza? Watch on YouTube

Friday night means one thing in my house: pizza! Once I shut down my laptop, I make my way to the kitchen to fire up the oven and chop up some pineapple (because no matter what anyone else says, pineapple absolutely belongs on top of pizza).

Last Friday, the meal wasn't quite enough. I still felt we needed something else to round off the evening. So, sticking with the theme, I decided to give Pizza Possum a go. This is a cheerful new game about cheeky possums who eat everything they come across. In it, you play as either a possum, or a raccoon with a blue hat on - or both if you're playing in co-op - and you have to get to the top of a mediterranean-like town to eat Bella Chonki's giant pizza.

While that might sound easy, it really isn't. Between you and this oversized marriage of cheese and dough are many locked gates and patrolling doggy guards who, understandably, do not take kindly to hungry rodent plunderers. You will need to try and eat enough pieces of bread and fruit to earn keys to unlock the gates before they catch you.

My son and I had a great time playing Pizza Possum. We giggled and squealed our way through the town's many tiers, weaving through vineyards and splashing through fountains. Pizza Possum probably doesn't have a huge amount of replayability, but for a bit of mischievous and silly fun on a Friday evening, it was bellissimo!


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