13th January 2023
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: cyberpunk, improved pool safety and a bit of venting.
If you fancy catching up on some of the older editions of What We've Been Playing, here's our archive.
Citizen Sleeper, Xbox
Over the Christmas holiday I finally introduced my partner to one of my favourite films, Blade Runner, which became a springboard for all things cyberpunk and an excuse to finally catch up on this Eurogamer recommended gem.
For fans of the cyberpunk genre, Citizen Sleeper ticks plenty of boxes: androids on the run, bounty hunters, corrupt corporations, hacking celestial cyber-entities, the horrors of capitalism. Yet rather than viewing all this through a harsh, cold lens, Citizen Sleeper’s human stories are warm, poignant, and intimate.
That’s testament to the beautiful writing that enchanted me from the start. I was drawn into the fate of the Sleeper; felt empowered to revolt against the controlling corporation; and made it my mission to assist a father and daughter to a better life. Like a good book I couldn’t put Citizen Sleeper down, eager to see the next cycle play out, turning the pages of each chapter with fervent interest, not wanting to break the magic with a pause. It was 2am and ten hours of non-stop play when the credits rolled.
The game’s melancholic tone is underlined by a deeply pensive electronic score that ebbs and flows with the emotion of the writing, mirroring my own feelings with every dialogue decision. A dice system smartly adds a tabletop twist to gameplay, giving urgency to each story thread demanding your attention - even if that does eventually peter out to a more serene experience. No matter which ending you strive towards, Citizen Sleeper is a bittersweet meditation on humanity among the stars.
The Sims 4, PC
We may only be a little shy of two weeks into 2023, but already this year I have been present at numerous births, deaths and marriages.This is all thanks to my return to The Sims 4.
I used to play a lot of The Sims when I was a teenager, and, yes, I was that person who recreated my crush in Maxis’ chaotic life-simulator. I am older (although perhaps not all that much wiser) now, and decided it was time to dip my toe back into this world that allows me to pretend I am some sort of overlord puppet master.
I had forgotten until recently that The Sims 4 has found a workaround for the many like me who use the pool as a cunning way to rid themselves of annoying Sims. Its nonsensical characters can now simply pull themselves up and out on the pool side if I choose to take away the ladder. Hmm.
Regardless of this slight hitch in my streamlining plans, however, I have enjoyed reigniting my love for The Sims - even if it does mean I am now spending my evenings watching my in-game family getting a full night's sleep when really I should be in bed myself (told you I wasn’t that much wiser).
Allow me to vent. Allow me to hide in a vent. This is Among Us, which I play quite a bit because my daughter loves it. And it's the new mode - I think it's called Hide and Seek - that turns the basics on its head a bit.
Among Us is traditionally a social deduction game. A bunch of players move across a map doing tasks for the common good. But amongst them are a couple of imposters who are steadily killing people off. The objective for the imposters is to kill everyone. The objective for everyone else is to work out who the imposters are and vote them out.
Fine. But Hide and Seek - if that's what it's called - is very different. Everyone knows who the imposters are from the start. You have to stay out of their way as you do your tasks. No social deduction, just a proximity tracker and a reduced field of view, which makes going about your jobs very tense. Oh, and you can hide in vents if you get cornered.
What I love about this is the speed at which it plays out - speed which both enhances the game and makes it far more difficult. I've had several tense moments where I've been pootling along doing my jobs and my tracker buzzes like wild and then I've seen the killer flit past without noticing me.
Is it as good as the standard game? I don't think it's meant to be. It's something to play in between regular rounds, I reckon. It's tense and a bit frightening and it's worth checking out.