27th of May, 2022
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 oceans, arenas of light and mountaineering.
If you fancy catching up on some of the older editions of What We've Been Playing, here's our archive.
In Other Waters, Switch
God, I love the Ordovician. A period in which earth, as I understand it, was just balmy oceans filled with molluscs and all that slithery stuff. A geological period I would happily dive back into - just give me one of those rubber swimming pool rings to sit on and I'm off.
In Other Waters is one of those games that doesn't really feel like anything else, but at times I glimpse the Ordovician in it, very fleetingly. We're on an alien world - an the Ordovician was an alien world really - afloat in the oceans. Life bubbles and swarms around us, and as we learn to manipulate the game's wonderful interface - a busy quick-change machine that gets so much out of the Switch's buttons and triggers - we learn to explore, and maybe come to understand a little of what's happening here.
I'm still early on in things - I have only just reached a prompt to go deeper underwater - but I'm transported. This is not an original thought, but In Other Waters uses an abstract interface and a handful of carefully chosen colour harmonies to deliver one of the most involving, panoramic, densely writable sci-fi settings I have ever encountered.
And now? Deeper I go. What a game.
Radiangames is a studio whose work is not to be missed. For the last few evenings I have been not-missing it with a vengeance.
Devastator is a classic Radiangames work - fast, dazzling, precise and wonderfully crafted. It's a twin-stick shooter that uses the sharp-edged light of Geometry Wars, but actually plays nothing like it..
Quadrants is the mode I love the best - by which I mean it's the first mode I tried and I cannot pull myself away from it. You zip smoothly around the digital arena as orange death blooms in from every corner. The screen is divided into quadrants, and every so often the furniture in the quadrants evolves.
It's a bit like Pac-Man: Championship Edition with its rewriting mazes, but in truth it's mainly like Devastator. Quadrants is a three-minute mode I only rarely get to the end of, and yet every time I play it I find something new. A chicane where my rebounding bullets make the screen almost unreadable. A teleport.
Here's the thing, though: Quadrants is only part of what Devastator has to offer. Hopefully I'll get to see the rest soon. After a few more games of Quadrants, I think...
Climbing Flail, iOS
There aren't nearly enough video games about mountaineering. Luckily, one of the few that does exist is Climbing Flail.
Climbing Flail is a riot. It uses the pull-back-and-release controls of the Twitter app to channel a kind of devilish elasticity into proceedings as you fling your ragdoll mountaineer up from one colourful handhold to the next.
Navigate buzzsaws and weird red monsters, reach safe spots and dive into the abyss: everything that you probably shouldn't have to deal with when climbing a real mountain is present here. My favorite part is that, when you reach the top, you go right back to the bottom and start again. Why? Because it's there.