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What we've been playing

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

10th February 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: Talking cuffs, cards that play themselves, and mole mits.

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

Forspoken, PS5

Here's the Digital Foundry take on Forspoken.Watch on YouTube

Can everyone just stop hating on Forspoken for a second? Look beyond all those memes about the dialogue and there’s a really decent game experience underneath.

And no, I’m not going to pretend I like the dialogue. Bathos is not my preferred style of humour and the quippy lines here only serve to undermine what is otherwise an intriguing fantasy world - I just wish the developers had the confidence to take it more seriously. The game is so desperate to tell you its story it becomes overly talkative and forces you to stand still and endure conversations with poorly animated NPCs. I sigh at every trip back to Cipal, the central city for crappy chit-chat.

Yet I love the core concept of Forspoken: a mysterious world of magic and dragons; a matriarchal society led by corrupt sorceresses (hi Final Fantasy 8!); and a witch-esque lead character who can leap over land at high speed, summon the elements, and buff her powers with nail art in sacred blood. There’s an arcane thrill to combat once Frey’s devastatingly overpowered abilities click, and simply bounding through the open world, exploring subterranean dungeons, discovering flying cats, and crushing mutated creatures is a delight. Moreover, Frey is a likeable protagonist well-performed by Ella Balinski.

My biggest gripe? After all she’s been through - and without a plug socket - how the hell does Frey still have battery for her phone?


Marvel Snap, iOS

Marvel Snap.Watch on YouTube

I was pretty sure I wasn't going to write about Marvel Snap again. All the people I've played alongside have quit by now, and it feels like people are starting to get annoyed about the cost of progression and the pay-to-win feeling of being matched against someone who just has better cards. Also, The Leader.

Then, yesterday I unlocked a new card, Agatha Harkness. I have no idea who this is in the comics, but as a card she's fascinating indeed: 6/14, which is a nice return, but also she starts in your hand and "plays your cards for you".

Could that be right? Turns out, yes, it is right. First match she played for me and straight-up steamrollered the opponent. Second was a comedy of simple errors, starting with playing Medusa in the wrong lane, and culminating with a deployment of Iron Man in an empty lane where there was no score to double. We lost, and hilariously so. Note the "we".

Third game we won again, though Agatha still made some questionable moves. The thing is, by now I'm feeling - for the time being at least - that Agatha's simply too interesting, and too much fun to leave out of the deck. This is Marvel Snap to me, then. It's a card game, but it's also a laboratory of weird synergies, where the decks you make are ultimately little machines you piece together one interlocking part at a time. I can't quit. Not yet. Agatha won't let me. Whoever she is.

Chris Donlan

Zelda: The Minish Cap, Switch

Watch on YouTube
Game Boy and GBA games on the Switch!

What a game this is. Zelda in the hands of Capcom, and yet it still feels like a classic Zelda - reverent yet inventive. Over the years I've come to prefer the handheld Zeldas because I have less time and they have less room to use. The Minish Cap is a miniature marvel even before you shrink in size.

I've only just started in again, but I've already realised that what I'm most excited for on this playthrough is the items. Capcom's game might have some of the best items to collect in any Zelda, come to think of it. There's the Gust Jar, that really makes you feel like you're wrestling with a tiny tornado, and there are the Mole Mits, which are such a pleasure to chug along with.

I didn't have a replay of this in mind for this year, but that's the pleasure of Nintendo's online offering, I think. Next up, I want to properly play the Oracle games when they finally drop.

Chris Donlan