May 24
By Matt Gander In Reviews No Comments

Even sites that focus squarely on retro gaming rarely talk about the Amiga’s once bustling public domain scene. Talented bedroom coders took it upon themselves to show the world what the humble Amiga was capable of, creating free-to-share games as well as tech demos often accompanied by ‘90s rave music.

Polybius feels like the modern-day equivalent of an Amiga PD game, possessing an incredibly modest ‘handmade’ feel. The connection here is creator Jeff Minter was part of that scene back in the day. Chunky pixel font menus are just the tip of the ice burg – Polybius even has a credits screen thanking the local pubs and curry houses for their hospitality, along with a reminder that the whole shebang was made in a barn surrounded by sheep.


While the basic presentation could be mistaken as amateurish, it’s clearly intentional – Minter’s inspiration comes from a fabled ‘80 arcade game; a game so psychedelic that it gave players hallucinations, nausea and even amnesia. That’s fabled in the sense that there’s no solid proof the original Polybius ever existed, putting it firmly into ‘urban legend’ status.

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May 23
By Matt Gander In Reviews No Comments

10tons’ Spellspire bears more than a passing resemblance to Letter Quest, another word game with light RPG elements. We’re all for expanding niche markets, but now we’re in the position where the only two word games available on PS4 and Xbox One aren’t massively different from one another.

There’s also the small matter of the fact that Letter Quest was recently free via PS Plus; anybody with an inkling to play a word game on their PS4 probably picked it up when it cost sweet nothing.

Spellspire is at least competently put together, and it does have a few subtle differences. The core concept remains unchanged, however. The main character slowly plods through dungeon rooms, stopping to battle every monster in their path. The longer the word you’re able to find within the ten-letter word grid, the more damage dealt to the opposition. Stages are short, usually lasting just a couple of minutes, and every so often there’s a boss with an elongated health bar to whittle down.


Between stages it’s possible to spend any gold acquired on new weapons and armour, with some items featuring elemental effects. In Spellspire’s case, you’re forced to replay levels over again to earn a star – the more stars you have, the more items available to purchase. Cloaks, magic wands, and wizard hats, specifically – the main character is an apprentice wizard, out to find what lies on the 100th floor of a monster-filled tower.

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May 22
By Matt Gander In UK Charts No Comments

Following in the footsteps of its predecessor, Injustice 2 has managed to claim the UK’s top spot.

It’s Warner Bros’ first UK number one of 2017, and the first fighting game to claim no.1 since NetherRealm’s own Mortal Kombat X in 2015.

Sony’s much touted PSVR shooter Farpoint debuts at #2, surpassing PSVR launch title PlayStation VR Worlds to become the highest charting VR title so far.

Nintendo also had a good week with Fire Emblem Echoes arriving at #5. Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is still in the top ten too, currently at #6, while Zelda: Breath of the Wild falls two places to #12.

Well-received ‘Souls-like’ The Surge made #10. It entered #6 in the PS4 chart, but had to settle for #14 in the Xbox One chart. PS4 Pro support is clearly a huge selling point.

505 Games’ Portal Knights also managed to squeeze into the top 40, albeit at #30.

May 18
By Matt Gander In New Nintendo Downloads No Comments

It’s another case of quality over quantity for the eShop this week, and that suits us just fine. There’s a major 3DS title, two notable Switch releases, two games for Wii U, and a demo of Disgaea 5 Complete ahead of next week’s launch.

The Switch also gets ACA NeoGeo: Galaxy Fight Universal Warriors (£6.39) – a Sunsoft beat’em up from 1995 – and the indie rhythm-action hit Thumper (£15.99). Thumper went down a treat on PS4 late last year, gaining some impressively high scores thanks to its hellish vibe and stylish visuals. Word has it that this Switch conversion is everything we could have hoped for, running like a hot knife through a butter-like substance.

Nintendo Life awarded it 9/10 earlier today. “Thumper is a fantastic video game, an extravagant rhythm experience that’s also a brutal assault on the senses,” they said.


Over on Wii U there’s PINBALL (£1.39) from RCMADIAX, a minimalistic affair that’s not quite pinball as you know it, and a VC release of the Turbografx’s Super Star Soldier (£5.39).

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May 18
By Matt Gander In This Week's Games No Comments

Deck 13’s Lords of the Fallen received a lot of criticism upon release, and most of it was deserved. It was a blatant clone of Dark Souls, hastily rushed out the door before the real deal arrived.

The developer has managed to redeem themselves with The Surge, however. This sci-fi ‘Souls-like’ has enough twists and novel concepts under its belt to prevent it feeling like yet another Dark Souls clone. To quote our review: “It’s challenging, well-designed, and curiously addictive – there’s always something to spur you on and keep playing, even when enduring one of its rougher patches”. We felt it was worthy of a 7/10, and aren’t alone – most reviewers dished out the same score.

Impartial as always, we should note that it has gained a few higher scores, including a 4/5 from Windows Central and an 8.0 from Polygon.


Publisher Focus Interactive also released Seasons After Fall the same day as The Surge. This 2D puzzle-platformer has been likened to Ori and the Blind Forest due to also starring a similar lead. ICXM is one of the few sites to give it the review treatment so far, resulting in a 7.5.

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May 16
By Matt Gander In Reviews No Comments

The first day at a new job usually entails watching dull safety videos about the dangers of heavy lifting and the risks of RSI. Maybe a lunchtime pint with your new work colleagues too if you’re lucky.

The Surge’s grizzled lead has a far less casual first day at work, arriving at an off-world research complex to find the entire workforce has gone insane. After receiving a shiny new exo-suit, no time is spared before blue-collar worker Warren sets about tearing his would-be workmates from limb to limb. Like the saying goes, one man’s HR nightmare is another man’s thrilling sci-fi adventure.

combat is crunchy and satisfying

The Surge comes from the minds behind 2014’s Lords of the Fallen, an (ironically) soulless Dark Souls clone heavily criticised due to failing to hide its influences. All is forgiven, however, as it’s clear Deck 13 has taken onboard the mistakes made in LotF. Most ideas borrowed from Dark Souls have had a novel twist applied, plus it has plenty of its own unique elements too. This puts it more in line with Nioh, which also managed to carve its own niche in the popular ‘Souls-like’ genre.

That said, even with taking the shlock sci-fi setting into consideration it’s still more than apparent that Dark Souls provides the bulk of inspiration. Medical bays act as bonfires, providing a place to heal, level up, and gain a new supply of health packs. Upon visiting a med bay all enemies duly respawn, appearing in the same – easily memorisable – locations every time. Medical bays also have crafting facilities, which is where tech scrap gained from each enemy is consumed; The Surge’s equivalent of souls. Here, however, there’s a panic-inducing time-limit to reach any tech scrap dropped after dying, often prompting a sense of urgency to return to where you last fell.


Tech scrap is also used to level up. Or in this case, boost the power capacity of Warren’s exo-suit. The higher the capacity, the more stat-improving implants you can use. Some of these can be hot swapped while others require a trip back to the med bay to install. It’s well worth reading their descriptions fully as there are different ways to keep the health bar topped up, including a small boost whenever a heavy-hitting finishing move is performed. As well as health, there are stamina and energy bars to keep an eye on, with energy required to perform said moves. When using light weapons the stamina bar doesn’t require a beady eye; the same can’t be said when wielding heavy weapons that take time to gain momentum when swinging.

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May 15
By Matt Gander In UK Charts No Comments

Bethesda’s DOOM didn’t take the UK chart top spot until around a month after launch, having to settle for #2 upon release.

Prey has found itself in a similar position – it debuted at #2, but this week rises to claim no.1. Unlike DOOM however, it didn’t need a price drop to get there.

We imagine many gamers were holding off until reviews went live, especially after the mixed reception from the pre-launch demo. No major new releases were out last week either, which probably also helped swing things in the sci-fi shooter’s favour.

Mario Kart 8 Deluxe – last week’s chart topper – fell to #3 with GTA V rising to #2. FIFA 17 rose four places to take #4 while Rocket League moved up to #5.

LEGO Worlds fell to #6, Infinite Warfare is at #7, Ghost Recon: Wildlands re-enters the top ten at #8, Horizon Zero Dawn remains at #9 and then at #10 it’s Zelda: Breath of the Wild.

Presumably due to price drops, Resident Evil VII and Call of Duty: Black Ops III have both shot back up the chart. The former rose from #24 to #11, while the latter went from #40 to #20.

The Division also saw a significant sales boost, rising from #38 to #21. That’s presumably down to a combination of the recent free-play weekend and a price drop to around the £15 mark.

Demon's Crystals (4)
May 13
By Matt Gander In Reviews No Comments

A low asking price isn’t the selling point it once was. Indeed, it’s unlikely even the thriftiest of gamers find themselves stuck for something new to play nowadays. Digital sales see some hefty price drops, both Xbox One and PS4 have amassed a wealth of free-to-play games over the years, and we’re sure most gamers have an unplayed PS Plus/Xbox Gold freebie or two in their digital library.

Fortunately, Demon’s Crystals has other merits beyond its meagre £3.99 price tag. This instantly gratifying twin-stick shooter is surprisingly generous with content, including several four-player multiplayer match types as well as survival and arcade modes. In arcade mode, each stage is noticeably different from the last with areas varying wildly in size, and a colossal boss lies at the end of each world.

It’s a surprisingly comprehensive package, with the only telling signs of a low budget being muddy last-gen quality visuals and a lack of online play.

Demon's Crystals (3)

The developers have been a bit frugal when it comes to artwork though, as there are heavy inspirations from Capcom’s back catalogue. The demonic female leads resemble Darkstalkers characters, and we’re pretty sure the menus use the same font as Ghouls ‘n Ghosts.

With an enemy roster comprising of cartoon-like zombies, undead knights, ghosts and other supernatural beings, Capcom’s ghoulish arcade classic is easily the biggest influence. The amusing thing here is that Ghosts ‘n Goblins’ hirsute hero did once star in a top-down shooter – Arthur was a playable character in Cannon Spike on Dreamcast.

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