Video games! Now more than ever, they’re a dependable source of entertainment and escapism. At the end of last year you could look to April, blissfully unaware about the oncoming state of the world, and worry that there were just far too many PC games coming out to get through in the short amount of time you have between working and sleeping in the late-stage capitalist nightmare world we live in. But, now that coronavirus is here, a lot of us who are more fortunate are working from home, and April is just around the corner… there’s f*ck-all coming out, isn’t there?
Well, not quite! A few of April’s most anticipated releases, like Cyberpunk 2077, have since been delayed, it's true, but we still have a few big chunky titles coming next month, just not as many. This means that our upcoming April releases spotlight is going to err more on the side of indie than triple-A, but I have a good eye for good indie games, so you can rest assured that while you might not have heard of some of these games before, they’re absolute treats that you’re sure to enjoy.
The Resident Evil 3 Remake
The Resident Evil 2 remake last year knocked everyone’s collective socks off, both because of how genuinely fantastic it was and because Mr. X--blasting through the walls at any given moment like the Kool-Aid Man if he got filled up with concrete and became a noir detective--was f*cking terrifying. But let me tell you, if you thought a honking big cinder block in a trilby was the epitome of horror, just you wait until you get a look at the Hellraiser-esque, veiny nightmare fuel that is Nemesis, the roaming antagonist of this year’s Resident Evil 3 remake, the original of which was my Resident Evil game, and was responsible for giving me the coolest nightmares ever.
From the gameplay we’ve seen in the recently-released demo, it’s received the same treatment as last year’s remake, adopting an over-the-shoulder perspective instead of retaining the tension-building but ultimately very clunky fixed-perspective camera and tank controls. I’d go on some frenzied rant about how great those fixed perspectives were at adding atmosphere, and, “How dare they change the thing I like it was much better in the old days,” but I did dip back into Resi 3 near the end of last year and y’all, it really doesn’t hold up.
And take a look at the Nemesis! The early promo shots weren’t exactly flattering, but here he looks even more horrible but in a good way than he did in the original! His face is melting off the side of his sodding bicep! Jesus.
Fallout 76 Wastelanders
I, like a seemingly vast majority of people, had honestly lost all hope and/or interest in Fallout 76. It had a catastrophe of a launch, and in the two years following it have seen such ridiculous sh*t as players being able to spawn the Brotherhood of Steel’s airship from Fallout 4 into the map while on public servers, all of the nuclear silos in the game suffering from their own equivalent to Y2K and breaking when we made it into 2020, and in-game civil wars between those who do and don’t have a $13/mo Fallout 1st subscription, which allegedly fosters a pay-to-win environment and locks much-requested private servers behind another paywall beyond the retail cost of the game.
But I’m a huge sucker, so, a part of me wants to see if Fallout 76 Wastelanders and its introduction of actual walking talking NPCs with quests to give you and conversations to have with actually does something to upset that negative track record. Yes, Fallout: New Vegas is my favourite modern-day Fallout game so I shouldn’t really get my hopes up about this at all. But even in the Bethesda Game Studios-developed Fallout games, the NPCs and the stories they have to tell are still absolutely stellar in a lot of ways, so there’s every chance that Wastelanders actually transforms it into a game that I find compelling.
Hell, the Fallout 76 community are doing a lot of interesting things even with the game as it currently is, so who knows? I just want to believe, you know? I don’t want games to be bad, I want them to be good! We’ll see.
The Gears Of War franchise didn’t have the most spectacular start when it came to spin-off games. More like Funko Plop. But there are no amorphous plastic blobs in sight in Gears Tactics, which looks genuinely a lot like XCOM (and not just because it’s a tactical turn-based affair) but if one of the blocky-armoured and really unlucky soldiers was voiced by John DiMaggio.
What separates it a touch from XCOM is, apparently, being able to stand out in the open, waving your arms about, and calling enemy locust forces sh*theads. That’s the teenage edge so essential to the franchise which lacks rather a bit in Gears Pop, for example, probably because here, there’s a more active involvement in development from The Coalition, who have been at the helm of the series since Gears 4.
There’s not really much else to be said about Gears Tactics, at least for now. I wouldn’t be surprised if it ends up being pretty much what it says on the tin. Perhaps we’ll get a little more information between now and its release?
Alder’s Blood looks edgy as f*ck. Turns out God is dead and he’s just a big floating corpse with all his guts strewn out and all these spindly arms sticking out instead of wings, and because of that there’s all this nasty Lovecraftian sh*t running about the place that you, a Chief of a clan of a new class of human called Hunters, have to go and mess that nasty Lovecraftian sh*t up with some nets and rocks. How f*cking dire.
Alder’s Blood feels in a similar wheelhouse to Darkest Dungeon. Existentially, things are all messed up, and you have to manage and order around a group of people trying their best to un-mess-up everything, but they’re probably going to die before that happens. That’s quite nihilistic, but expected given one of the game’s big themes is that God is dead and we have killed him; mister wots-his-face in the trailer who’s gone a bit barmy having found this out even has a moustache to rival ol Fredrich Nietzche’s.
The big difference here is that it’s tactical-strategy with a huge emphasis on stealth; primarily because all of that aforementioned nasty Lovecraftian sh*t is a lot, lot nastier than you or your squishy hunters are. It seems like there’s a lot to Alder’s Blood, and unlike the turn-based combat of Darkest Dungeon which never really suited me much, this tactical stuff is way more my jam, so I’ll absolutely be giving Alder’s Blood a crack when it releases.
In Other Waters
What if HAL-9000 was the AI of a deep-sea exploration suit with a xenobiologist trapped inside it, and also wasn’t a genocidal dickhead? That’s the question In Other Waters perhaps unintentionally answers, because who the f*ck would ask that question, but here we are.
I’ve already given In Other Waters a look as part of our Rezzed Digital coverage, which you’ll see the card for now, and let me tell you, it’s beautifully serene and inspiring of a great deal of curiosity. Your only means of communicating with Ellery, who has been sent to a planet to explore its sea floor, is by indicating a yes, or a no. That’s because you’re a robot, of sorts, and your time is spent on the far more crucial task of scanning nearby lifeforms, collecting strange samples, and navigating through the blue and yellow minimalistic depths of a planet described to you in sometimes even poetic prose. It’s absolutely wonderful, it is. There’s not much more I can say for now besides, “It’s pretty,” and, “I really like it,” so if you want to get your scientist on down where it’s better and wetter, just do nothing besides sleep for the next three days and wake up to In Other Waters’s release.
HyperParasite oozes garish, 80’s pastiche. I say that as a compliment, because I’m a hopeless lover of the aesthetic. You’re an alien parasite hell-bent on absolutely destroying the human race, and you do that by snatching different host bodies of characters with varying different abilities and stats, and try to achieve that genocidal desire via violent roguelike twin-stick combat. So far, we only have a release announcement trailer to work from, but I can absolutely tell you about three things I like the look of right off the get-go.
One is that one of your potential host bodies looks remarkably like Mr T, all-round badass and genuinely awesome IRL person. I’m a bit heartbroken that T’s body is being used and abused John Carpenter’s The Thing-style, but excited that I indirectly get to play as him. The second is the great big honking businessman robot with rocket feet and a giant hand that’s got gun fingers on it. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a better physical representation of Capitalis-- The third is how fluid it all looks. Interesting upgrade systems and spins on roguelike mechanics are always very interesting to try out, but the most important thing about a game where you’ll be doing a lot of the same thing over and over is that the core experience feels good to play. Right now I can only comment on the visuals, but it looks smooth? We’ll know for sure when the game comes out.
Disaster Report 4 Plus: Summer Memories
Disaster Report 4: Summer Memories is a, surprise, disaster survival game about the survivors in the wake of a massive earthquake destroying a city. You have to try and escape that city, finding safe routes and additional survivors in collapsed buildings, cleaning yourself to keep your stress levels low, peeing for the same reason, and you can customise your character with a bunch of different hairstyles and clothing items. It’s been out in Japan since November 2018, but getting a release worldwide on the 7th of April. Or at least, that was the initial release date, it’s now listed on Steam as coming out in “Early 2020.” I can’t possibly imagine why this game about trying to survive after a cataclysmic and almost apocalyptic event might be getting delayed.
One of the inconsequential things about Blade Runner that always got me curious was what it was like driving the hover cars everywhere. I mean, how the hell do roads work in the sky? I guess that’s what planes do, but there aren’t usually enough planes up above the clouds for one to cut another up and trigger a frenzied series of honking your… do planes have horns…?
Cloudpunk is a game literally all about that, you driving around in a horizontally vast and vertically depth-defying cyberpunk city as a courier for a, quote, “semi-illegal,” company called Cloudpunk. So for all the other dorks out there, don’t worry, the thing where somebody in the thing says the name of the thing happens pretty early on.
There’s not just driving, though, there’s plenty of walking in amongst the towering neon skyscrapers and foggy god rays of street lamps. Matthew sat with some of the developers of Cloudpunk for a guided playthrough last year at EGX Berlin, you can check out that jazzy 18-minute chunk of gameplay by clicking the card in the corner of the screen, and it looks incredibly promising, with a blocky voxel art style that collides with realistic lighting physics and particle effects in such a way that it really compliments the neo-retro setting. Cue plenty of future-honking and dystopic pile-ups.
Mojang will be doing what a lot of other developers are also doing and answering a question nobody thought to ask but everybody is now curious about; what if Minecraft was Diablo? As it turns out, it looks like it could be quite good, actually.
The UI is suitably blocky, you can wear a wolf’s head on top of your head, all of the dungeons and environments are, unsurprisingly, Minecraft-y, but if you were playing with one of those gorgeous lighting shaders turned on, and uh… well, it looks like if Minecraft was Diablo. Or does it look more like if Diablo is Minecraft? Where does it appear to lie on the spectrum between Minecraft and Diablo to you, dear viewer? Let us know in the comments.
In theory, I think Moving Out is loads of fun. Working together with your mates to shift furniture from a house into the back of a van in the quickest and most efficient way possible can be quite viscerally satisfying, like trying to carry all of the shopping bags back into your house in a single trip. In practice, that experience can also become a nightmare of unimaginable anguish the second you introduce a man who likes Toblerones and gets bad heartburn into the mix who proceeds to just start chucking cans of beans through unopened windows and eating all of the baguette before it makes it through the front door. I feel like I might’ve lost track of this metaphor…
Anyway. That’s pretty much what Moving Out is. Developers SMG Studio have basically done an Overcooked but instead of shouting at your friends while trying to cook ten different burgers, you’re shouting at your friends while you’re trying to fit a fridge through a door. There’s a range of cute characters to choose from--including a wheelchair user which is such a great and simple way of highlighting that people with physical disabilities are just as capable of manual labour as the rest of us--and it’s got a really pleasant, brightly-coloured art style that makes it really easy to identify things you need to see. Having had the chance to play Moving Out, I’m really looking forward to seeing other people enjoy the game too when it comes to PC.
Despite April being a little bit dry for huge releases, there’s still quite a lot of interesting stuff going on in games this month. Funnily enough, given everything going on in the world, a lot of them feel oddly fitting, like some sick display of Jungian synchronicity. But nevertheless, they all look like really compelling experiences that I for one can’t wait to dip into. What are your favourites in this list? Did we miss any juicy ones that you have your eyes on? Let us know in the comments section.