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What we've been playing

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

7th of October, 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: rock climbing, the country life, and a handy umbrella.

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

Crux: The Great Outdoors, iOS

Crux: The Great Outdoors trailer.Watch on YouTube

One of the things I am always up for in a video game is mountain climbing. Mountain climbing, rock climbing, bouldering. These are the things I wish I did in real life. It's the video game as wish fulfilment.

My mother was a huge fan of mountaineering, and out house was filled with books by mountaineers and climbers. What's fascinating is that everyone seemed to approach the task differently. They're all one-offs, if that's possible. No Venn diagrams overlap.

So it is with climbing games. My daughter loves Climbing Flail, in which you sort of rubber-band your way up a mountain moving from one hold to the next and losing limbs as you go. This week I discovered Crux: The Great Outdoors, which could not be more different.

Crux sees the wall you're climbing as a series of nodes, and you use one side of the screen to move your hands and the other to move your feet. It takes a lot of getting used to, but when it clicks I feel like I've learned something deeper about the challenges of real-life climbing. As abstracted as this game is, it delivers a sense of climbing as being a sort of orchestration of all the different parts of you. It's wild.

Chris Donlan

The Good Life, Xbox

The Good Life trailer.Watch on YouTube

So, this is an odd one for me. I have been dipping into The Good Life on and off for a while now, and I can’t tell you what it is about the game that keeps luring me back in because, in truth, I can’t say I particularly like it.

I initially started playing it while I waited for something else to happen - perhaps I was waiting for the oven timer to ’bing’ for my supper? I honestly don’t know. But anyway, I digress.

In short, I saw it on Game Pass and thought I would give it a whirl simply because I liked the name and it reminded me of the show called The Good Life that I watched with my mother when I was younger. Admittedly, not the best reason to choose a game, but that is what it was.

So, as I have already said, I am not a huge fan of the game itself. And yet, despite this, there is something endearing about it. Perhaps it is the cosy village setting. I have always been quite partial to the rural-living seen in shows such as The Vicar of Dibley and The Darling Buds of May. Perhaps it is the animals in there, of which there are many (I won’t spoil anything). Perhaps I am just enjoying the easy-going mindlessness it allows me to savour between the chaos of work, family, pets, and just life in general.

Who can say, certainly not me. However, later on this evening I will probably dip my toe back into this unusual and yet familiar setting while waiting for my pie to finish cooking in the oven, even if I don’t really know why I am there.

Victoria Kennedy

Gunbrella demo, PC

The Gunbrella trailer.Watch on YouTube

Gunbrella is fabulous. It's my favourite demo from the current Steam Next Fest; I am just so glad I found it. Welcome to a pixelly action-platformer painted in sepia tones and with a hint of Steampunk to it. You move from town to town taking on quests and pushing back the forces of villainy. Mainly you ponder how lucky you are to have a gunbrella in your life.

The gunbrella is primarily a weapon. But it's also an umbrella. You can open it out and you suddenly have a whole new world of options.

Deflection? Sure. Perfect for timing just right to take down turrets. But also traversal. Jump up and open the gunbrella and enjoy a sudden updraught. I already love spotting an enemy on a platform above me, and then gunbrella-ing into range, dropping out of the sky just behind them.

What else? Rail-riding! This is always money in the bank. Use the gunbrella to zip along clothes lines and race through the skies. Move about the enemies beneath you before they've even spotted where you were.

The Gunbrella demo is surprisingly generous. You get a decent chunk of adventure with a few quests, a bit of the dialogue system, and a lovely puzzle about moving bookcases. All of that is fabulous. But the reason you turned up is for Gunbrella's gunbrella. I am counting the days until this game is properly out.

Chris Donlan

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