4th 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: ocean liners, the post-human landscape and a bit of sci-fi parkour.
If you fancy catching up on some of the older editions of What We've Been Playing, here's our archive.
Life for me has been incredibly busy of late. As well as starting at Eurogamer, I have just moved house and as such when I am not working, I am mostly trying to locate where I put my pots, pans, bedding, marbles etc.
As such, my spare time has been somewhat limited. I am so desperate to join in with the many already experiencing the wilds of the Forbidden West with Aloy or become an Elden Lord in the Lands Between, but I equally want to wait until I have the time to fully immerse myself in these worlds which, for now, I simply do not have.
So, instead of biting off more than I can chew, I have opted to play some smaller, more digestible games. And one of these games has captured my attention in the best way. That game is Overboard.
I first heard of Overboard when it was mentioned off-handedly on a podcast many moons ago. As someone who has a soft spot for Agatha Christie's Poirot it sounded right up my street.
Set in the 1930s, Overboard players take on the mantle of Veronica Villensey, a former starlet and unhappy newlywed. Veronica must use her charisma and cunning to get away with the murder of their husband Malcom while on board the SS Hook, a luxury cruise liner traveling from England to America. Players have eight in=game hours to cover their tracks, form alliances and possibly even frame someone for their crimes.
Overboard has been an easy game for me to pick up and put down whenever I have a spare moment. So much so that I have started treating it a little bit like Wordle. I give myself one run through each day when I take my morning break. So far, I have managed to get away with murder, and pin the blame on another unsuspecting passenger. However, I am yet to succeed in tying up all my loose ends. Perhaps I will manage that tomorrow...
Far: Changing Tides, Switch
This is Anthropocene gaming, I reckon. Far: Lone Sails saw you scudding over the grey surface of a ruined post-industrial world in a sort of creaking land-ship that needed endless care and attention to keep it running. The sequel starts with you under water, and for the first few minutes I simply got used to floating around in the wrecked landscape, diving, breaching the surface, moving between grottos and sunken attics.
It's beautiful, and it chimes perfectly with a book I've just finished reading, Islands of Abandonment: Life in the Post-Human Landscape, by Cal Flyn. Islands looks at a range of environments around the planet where humans have done something wretched and then left. The book examines the way that nature reappears, on World War One battlefields, Scottish artificial mountains of chipped rock, and even the woods around Chernobyl.
Perfect stuff for games, and I can't wait to spend the next ten hours or so moving through Far's artfully rendered shipyards and old refineries. After a while paddling around I started moving in earnest - up over rooftops in submerged tenements, down in the pools created between factory buildings. I've just found my craft, which in this game is a vast red boat. Pushing through the doors of its hangar and out into the damaged world is already one of my cherished memories of games in 2022. Who knows what I'll find next.
Ghostrunner, Project_Hel expansion, PC
What a great idea for an expansion: to let you play as one of the bosses you encounter in the game. It's not the boss and I was initially a bit confused about that, but it's one you meet along the way. What I love about it is how the attacks and abilities you once studied, in order to defend yourself against them, are now the attacks and abilities you rely on to win. Now, you can leap really high into the air; now, you can produce a kind of Sonic Boom with your sword; now, you've got a kind of barrier shield around you. What a great way to recycle content you've already made for a game.
But it's more than that, too. It's a chance to also tell the story from a different perspective, to show how this being became an agent of the enemy in the first place. And Ghostrunner does this so well. I really enjoyed how it told a story the first time around, piping it into your ears intermittently as it built the idea of a world and 'bigger things' around you, but never slowing you down to acknowledge it. And here again, there's a voice in your ear, only this time it's conditioning you to become the ruthless tool you evidently do become.
Plus, it's just really nice to be back in Ghostrunner, in that blend of acrobatics and speed and puzzling, jumping around, slicing enemies up - it just works so well together. And it oozes style. It's an impressive spectacle to be a part of. And this appears to be a proper, expansion-weight reason to do it all again. So far, I'm impressed.