9th of July, 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: fast travel, cars, and lovely chirps.
If you fancy catching up on some of the older editions of What we've been playing, here's our archive.
Hollow Knight, Switch
I sometimes like to think - warning: I'm boring - about a video game city designed entirely from parts of different video games. Who would make the post offices, the fire stations, the roads? One thing I am certain of is the underground network: the lines would belong to Mini Metro, but Hollow Knight would get the stations.
Hollow Knight's Stagways are essentially a form of fast travel, wrapped up, as fast travel often is, in a nice regular series of discoveries to pace out your explorations. But they're so much more! Returning this week I was reminded that the stations are beautiful - wrought iron and moonlight carving out little spaces of calm in amidst the hectic chittering of the rest of the game.
Queen's Station is my favourite, a midnight garden of art nouveau delights, with hanging signs and glittering details. It's Queen's Station that I return to first whenever I'm coming back to the game after a long absence: it helps orient me a little, sure, but in its detailing, its lonely visual storytelling and hints of past grandeur, it serves as a reminder of why Hollow Knight is much more than "just" a Metroidvania. It's a place - a series of places. And some of them are magical.
Thanks to what I can only presume is licensing shenanigans with the ACO, when iRacing released its calendar of big special events earlier this year the biggest of them all - the 24 Hours of Le Mans - was missing completely. Given my love of the real thing, and how iRacing's take on it got me properly back into the service last year, the disappointment was very real.
But, there is hope! For this season only, iRacing spun up a fresh series of 24 hour races with Le Mans as the centrepiece, the virtual race sitting precisely between when the event's typically run in June and its pandemic special August date this year. Which is all I needed to get my special racing deckchair out of the sheds - and brush off a handful of slugs who now call my wheelbase home - and get down to some serious practice.
I'm running with some slightly more serious racers this time around, so my more pedestrian approach of old probably won't cut it anymore. We'll likely be in a split well beyond my ability levels, so holding onto the exhaust pipes of the opposition will be quite the feat during my stints, but it'll be nothing less than a pleasure guiding the Dallara P217 around La Sarthe and ticking the laps off, feeling all that aero push you through the Porsche curves at ungodly speed. Ooooh, I'm getting tingles just typing about it. Excited? You bet I am.
Twofold Inc., iOS
Twofold Inc. is one of those games I am always sort of playing. It's a puzzle game by Grapefrukt, a designer who is clearly touched with genius. Rymdkapsel is an all-time classic, a base-building game involving resource management and Tetris pieces, a challenge that can draw you in for hours before letting you go. Twofold is a game about clearing blocks of colour by lining them up, but it's so much denser than that, so rich with complications and things to steadily realise.
This week though I've really just been enjoying the sounds. Grapefrukt's games all have incredible audio, from the basketball drumming of Holedown to the sizzling disco lasers of Rymdkapsel's enemies. Twofold Inc. lives in its chirps and burrs and clicks as you manipulate blocks, move rows and columns, and clear chains of colour with a neat sweep of the finger.
And in the background is this weirdly 90s guitar music - the sort of thing you'd get from someone on the 4AD label, someone with a connection to Hersh or Donelly. This week I've been listening closely and I've realised that you can sort of hear the fingers moving over the strings at times - a weirdly human touch for such a stellar, futuristic game.