8th of July, 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: Sonic, Egypt, and a proper classic.
If you fancy catching up on some of the older editions of What We've Been Playing, here's our archive.
Sonic Origins, PS5
Sonic was my first love. The Master System game was my introduction to gaming and I became obsessed. Wearing Sonic clothes. Writing Sonic stories. Doodling Sonic everywhere - I can still do this by heart. And collecting tons of editions of Sonic the Comic, which is probably what got me here to Eurogamer eventually.
So when I saw Sonic Origins was on the way, I knew I had to play it - least of all because, despite owning these Sonic games as a child, I never actually finished them. I was consumed by those chequerboard fantasy lands and azure skies, but not once did I see the end credits - even when I left my console on overnight in the absence of a save file.
Well, I'm proud to say I've now finally completed Sonic the Hedgehog (1) some 25-odd years after first playing it. But nostalgia is a powerful thing and it can go both ways. As the iconic Green Hill Zone music stirred up, I was immediately transported back and muscle memory led me through those loops and dips. But the first game in the series really lacks refinement. It's a game that ironically seems to punish you for going fast: Sonic moves slowly, too many levels rely on precise platforming, and the placement of spikes and enemies is just punishing.
I love the new animations in this compilation. I love seeing all the artwork in the museum. And I can't wait to play the rest of the games in the collection. But I can't help but play these games now with a critical eye. It's a stark reminder that I'm not that kid anymore.
Assassin's Creed Origins, Xbox
Last week, I was full of the lurgy and feeling very sorry for myself. However, one of the small wins of being ill is letting myself plop my bot on the sofa and busy myself in a game or two while I ride out the fever and chills. So, I did indeed embrace the paracetamol sponsored chaos that interrupted my average week and settled on down with Assassin's Creed Origins.
I have to say, when you are feeling cold and uncomfortable, it is nice to immerse yourself in a world that is filled with palms swaying in the warm breeze and attractive people being ridiculously athletic (yes, I scaled a pyramid as soon as I was able to leave the game's tutorial section).
Admittedly, the onslaught of crocs and hippos I could have done without, especially as I was not aware of them the first time I ventured into the game's watery depths. But never mind... after all, it turns out Bayek is still a nifty fighter even when the laws of physics would traditionally work against us average human beings.
However, superhuman strength and off-the-charts parkour skills can only do so much for Origins' leading man (at least when I am in control), as he does still take fall damage. This is something that, ever since the release of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, I have struggled with. I now have it hard-wired into me that if I can climb the climb, I should also be able to glide the glide in the style of Link.
This is not the case in Assassin's Creed Origins, and Bayek, I am sorry for repeatedly having you fight off hordes of angry soldiers (and wildlife) to then just hurl you off the side of a cliff or building and to your death! I will try to do better for us both as we continue on with this journey through Egypt together.
Also, yes, the first time I met Cleopatra, I did start singing "coming at ya!" over and over again in my head. I surely can't be alone in this... right?
Might & Magic: Clash of Heroes, Xbox
When I think about the birth of my son, a handful of memories spring to mind: my wife bouncing up and down on a birthing ball, how quick it all happened, holding him in my arms, and the clip-clop of the bony-skulled skeletons in Clash of Heroes.
It's funny how some games are like those smells that transport you to a different time and place. Clash of Heroes does that to me, and it did it to me this week when I downloaded it on my Xbox Series S after browsing Game Pass in a bid to find something new to play. Capybara's strategy puzzle masterpiece transports me back to the maternity ward at the Royal Sussex in Brighton. I see the sight of the shoreline from level 13, I hear the reassuring beep of the baby's heart monitor, and I remember that you really do need to activate your Knight on turn one if you want to get ahead in the game.
To pass the time, my wife and I played Clash of Heroes on an iPad. It was pretty competitive: my wife would always choose Anwen and her ridiculously powerful deers, who would leap over my defensive walls to ruin my best laid plans. Her quick-to-fire archers would seemingly always kill my elites before they had a chance to get going. All the while her Emerald dragon, who she somehow managed to activate on turn two at the latest, would loom large over the battlefield, like some smirking, impending doom. My wife wasn't one for chains, but she was one for fusions, and it was her fusions that would wear me down. I'd pick Godric, most of the time, and try to frustrate my wife with lines of defensive walls. Cowardly play, really, but I didn't care. Winning was all that mattered, even in the labour ward. Oh, and the birth.
We were in the middle of a game of Clash of Heroes, in fact, when things started properly happening. We put down the iPad to focus on what really mattered. It was over so quickly, I remember. I cried. I held my son for the first time. He wrapped his tiny hand around my little finger. I held my superstar wife. "Well done, darling," I said. "Now, whose turn is it?"