Games Central: The sky's the limit - for those in it for the long run
This week, No Man's Sky unleashes its near-infinite universe on PS4 gamers, ABZU dives into the depths of the sea on the same system and State Of Decay's Year-One Survival Edition staggers onto PC.
Elsewhere, Albert & Otto and Blitz Breaker light up those smartphone and tablet screens
GAME OF THE WEEK:
Title: No Man’s Sky
The sky’s the limit - for those in it for the long run
A game boasting 18 quintillion planets to explore can never be reviewed in 150 words or so, nor can it be effectively appraised after only a day or two’s hands-on experience. And, in a way, that should be what holds the most excitement for gamers who are in the market for No Man’s Sky. Early encounters with intergalactic exploration on the most epic scale certainly deliver on beautiful varied vistas. There’s an incurable itch to keep pushing yourself further and further into this vast galaxy, while the complex trading and upgrading system, that embeds itself as the core gameplay loop, if you want to make swift progress through the planetary systems, will also become highly addictive. But you don’t have to do that, and that’s the glorious point. Save for a few “required” activities to stay alive and mobile, these billions of worlds are your oyster to uncover at your leisure and on your terms. Leisure, too, is key. Don’t expect an adrenalin-fuelled space adventure, just be prepared to fundamentally redefine the boundaries of adventure in open-world/universe gaming. No Man’s Sky is for gamers in it for the long run, and it already looks like being a journey worth making.
ASIN: N/A - PS Store download
Abzu-lutely amazing underwater exploration
ABZU is a grand descent into the depths of the sea, where PS4 owners can explore incredible ocean environments with fluid swimming controls. From the creator of the beautiful Journey, this whole experience draws inspiration from the deep narrative that we carry within our subconscious, a universal myth that resonates across cultures - the ocean of wisdom. Whether you buy into this spiritualistic premise or not, the audio and visual artistry will knock your socks off as you venture deeper and deeper. Watching huge schools of fish teeming around you, interacting with your every kick and direction change, is staggering to behold, while some of the more on-rails scenarios with large creatures like whales are equally mind-blowing. The subtle narrative pointers - all delivered without dialogue - guide you on a mesmeric journey that will be lapped up like the treasures of Atlantis by exploration fans. It’s yet another exceptional example of gaming transcending into art, and the kind of title that we’ll look back on in years to come as gloriously groundbreaking when it comes to experiential entertainment.
Title: State of Decay: Year-One Survival Edition
A gold standard for zombie survival
How will you survive the zombie apocalypse? State Of Decay: Year-One Survival Edition brings the zombie survival-fantasy franchise to PC along with major add-ons Breakdown and Lifeline, all fully remastered in 1080p. New missions and other extra content - along with vastly improved visuals - do a good job of pulling you even deeper into the post-outbreak world and, as zombie survival experiences go, this is one of the best out there. Of course, it’s made all the more appealing by the budget price tag, but don’t let that cloud your judgement of the quality gaming experience on offer here. It’s intensely violent, and probably not one for gamers with weak stomachs, but the technical development and realistic challenges set before you when forging your own base, resource stash and all-round security in a world that appears bereft of all the above, must be applauded. It’s a believable, brutal world you’ll enter in State Of Decay, but for that very reason, it’s also a rewarding experience.
Title: Albert & Otto
Impressive puzzle platforming from 1930s Germany
After a successful debut on Mac and PC, Albert & Otto have now wandered onto our mobile devices, and the story is similarly satisfying. Telling the tale of a boy and his abducted sister’s magical bunny, our titular heroes embark on a journey to find her, overcoming murderous beasts and lethal puzzles by working together. And although the game might at first seem like a journey to save the damsel in distress, it is anything but. In this haunting world, you must find creative ways to progress, using the jumping and shooting powers of Albert alongside Otto’s skill for squeezing through tight gaps and holding down power switches. More skills unlock as the story unfolds, all delivered through a beautifully sharp, stark and surreal 1939 German backdrop. If off-the-wall platforming action is up your street, Albert & Otto could prove to be your next best buddies and all for just 79p!
Title: Blitz Breaker
Platform fans - jump for joy (and coins and keys)
You’ve probably heard of the endless runner gaming genre, but Blitz Breaker turns that on its head, putting you in control of a cute pixellated character who can only jump and dash. Speedily shifting left or right to dodge an obstacle in this quick-fire platforming fix is not an option, so you’ll need to test your powers of timing to navigate the perilous, pacey levels that come thick and fast, as you fine tune your use of the super-sharp controls. Early levels are more forgiving as you find your feet, but the variations on biting the dust certainly expand as you progress, with spikes, cannons, missiles, lasers and mines all waiting to make mincemeat of you. Coin and key collecting is the name of the game here, to help you unlock fancy headwear for your character and additional secret challenges within the dozens of levels included in the app. It’s tough and unforgiving at times, but in such a way that you suck it up, accept your failure and resolve to be more nimble in your next attempt. An enjoyable retro-styled addition to your platform app collection.
WHAT’S HOT AND WHAT’S NOT?
Rumours are gathering that Sony’s PlayStation Neo console will be unveiled at an event in New York on September 7. French site Gameblog carried the story, and this date will add fuel to the rumours that we may see the console this side of Christmas. The PS4 Neo will be compatible with all current PS4 games, offering increased graphical power and 4K output, also supporting PlayStation VR, scheduled for release at the end of October.
Meanwhile, in the charts this week, Grand Theft Auto V made a romping return to the top of the tree, leapfrogging Uncharted 4, which held firm at two, and LEGO Star Wars, which slipped two places to three. It was an otherwise quiet week in the top 10, with titles shifting up or down no more than one place - watch out for No Man’s Sky’s impact next week!
GAME CHART ALL FORMATS FULL PRICE
1. LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens
2. Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End
3. Grand Theft Auto V
4. FIFA 16
7. Rocket League
8. Call of Duty: Black Ops III
9. Minecraft: Xbox Edition
10. Ratchet & Clank
Leisure software charts compiled by Chart Track, (c) 2016 UKIE Ltd