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What we've been playing

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

25th of March, 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: foxes, footsteps, and some ingenious sound effect design.

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

Tunic, Xbox

Ian's spoiler-free review of Tunic!

Remember a couple of weeks ago when I said that I wasn't playing any new releases as I just didn't have the time right now? Well, as it turns out, I will make time if a new game comes out and it presents me with an adorable small fox that you can kit out with a sword and shield.

So, yes, I have been playing Tunic, and it is wonderful.

As it has just come out, I am still not particularly far through. But that is OK. Tunic doesn't pressurise you to keep on going if you need to pause, and I have taken great joy at the end of the day by curling up on the sofa in my pyjamas and enjoying a hot chocolate while I explore the colourful and isometric world.

It is harder than I was expecting it to be, but I do not mean that as a negative. In fact, if anything it is a positive. Finding a different way round an enemy to then come back with a new weapon or understanding of said enemy is incredibly satisfying.

But gameplay aside, I also love how Tunic looks and sounds. It is comforting, even in battle, and a lovely way to spend an hour or so when the work day is done.

Victoria Kennedy

Dark Echo, iOS

Dark Echo.

Dark Echo came to me as a recommendation from the writer Emad Ahmed. It's fascinating stuff. It's a game about sound, but also about the imaginary visuals sound might create. And it's horror - oh wow, is it scary!

The idea's very simple. You move around a dark screen, feet clipping and clacking against the ground as you go. Each footstep sends out beams of light that bounce off the walls and give you a kind of bat's-mind view of the surroundings.

Early on that's enough: navigate this dark world and find each level's exit. Soon, though, red lines appear in the dark, which are enemies. The first level in which an enemy heard me and started to chase was something I will never forget.

I'm still playing, and it's still throwing in new ideas. Dark Echo is a treat - but quite a nasty treat. It's proper horror. Be warned!

Chris Donlan

Kirby and the Forgotten Land, Switch

Kirby and the Forgotten Land trailer.

The Kirby demo on Switch is a bit of a treat. I've been playing it for hours.

One of the things that really grabbed me, though, wasn't the colours or the sense of simple fun, or even the inventive twists that are thrown in every few minutes. Kirby has incredible sound effects.

I don't know quite how to describe it. There's the orchestral soundtrack, which is lovely, but then there's your movements as Kirby - every jump, every grab of a coin. At first I was like, Oh, they've layered in 8-bit sound effects! But I listened again, and that isn't quite it.

It's sort of an idealised version of what an 8-bit sound effect might be. Ping! Dink! I think it makes for a wonderful juxtaposition, anyway: you have this rusting, fully textured world, and this dramatic score, and then over the top, something harking back to the early days of games, something almost entirely abstract. Anyway! I'll keep playing - and I'll keep listening.

Chris Donlan

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