27th of May, 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: Grindstone, sacred geometry, and suspiciously sexy rhythm.
If you fancy catching up on some of the older editions of What we've been playing, here's our archive.
Capybara's toothsome and inexorable Grindstone - easily the best puzzle game of the last few years - popped up in a lovely PC version on the Epic Games Store this week, which was all the excuse I needed to give it another whirl. (It debuted on Apple Arcade and can also be found on Switch.) I'm not going to elaborate on the game's exquisite balance of risk and reward or its savagely crunchy and satisfying chain-making gameplay - you can read my Essential review of the Apple Arcade release for more on that. What I want to highlight here is the Fortune Grind, a new daily challenge mode which for my money knocks the existing Daily Grinds into a cocked hat.
The Fortune Grind replaces the exit door for a random level with a wheel of fortune which can be spun seven times by hitting it. The longer the chain you can put together leading into the wheel, the higher the multiplier applied to what it spits out, which could be grindstones, or same-coloured Creeps, or enemy Jerks - some benevolent, some hostile, but all affording the possibility for more hits and longer chains. You can see how perfectly this amplifies the game's already vicious spiral of risk and reward, in a single, bite-sized chunk you can start your day with. It's brilliant - and I haven't even mentioned the gameshow jingles and jeering crowd sounds yet.
Grindstone is an authentic modern classic. I implore you to try it out - even if an influx of PC players means an end to the unrealistically high leaderboard placings I've been enjoying this week...
I will struggle to beat the official blurb on this one: Engare is "a game about motion and geometry" from Iranian developer Mahdi Bahrami (who has something new and similar, called Tandis, coming "soon"). It's built on the foundations of Islamic art and sacred geometry - the foundations that we still use, in some ways, today - and that is celebrated for the way in which it seems to reveal something about the universe. This is how I think I understand it, anyway, as I'm no expert - but what a way to think of art. To reveal something about the universe. This is the sensation of completing a puzzle in Engare, in one small way: there's a rhythm to it, a little point in space and time where things align and flower outwards, blossom from the flick of a mouse. Simple and hypnotic, and always revealing.
Muse Dash, PC
"It's cute and it's a rhythm game," were the selling points of my partner for this game. I didn't really think much of it - it was also on sale, and has overwhelmingly positive reviews on Steam, so why not? The game's very anime in style, you play as a young heroine beating waves of cute enemies to the beat of the songs. If you look closely, the characters are also incredibly cute and sexy. I should have known those reviews meant something was up.
Boob physics aside, I am really enjoying this game so far. I honestly thought this was just going to be one of the on-sale games that I'd play over a weekend and forget about after, but now I'm 20 songs in, my character has some cute bunny girl outfit going on, and Pancake is Love stuck in my head.
Felisha Dela Cruz