18th August, 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: wingsuits, promising mistakes, and cooking people in stews.
If you fancy catching up on some of the older editions of What We’ve Been Playing, here’s our archive.
The arrival of Thronefall last week sent me back to GrizzlyGames’ first game, the trick-flyer wingsuit game Superflight.
And Superflight is wonderfully direct. You’re in a wingsuit, knocking around some procedurally created rocks. You get points for surfing close to the walls and lots of points for slotting yourself through natural windows that crop up in the rockface.
Die and it’s a quick restart. The whole thing’s a lovely scorechase with a touch of Burnout to the way that it’s always pushing you to do dangerous things. There’s a gorgeous sense of momentum as you nose-down and rush into the abyss too, an early sign that this team was bound for greatness.
I also see a hint of the team’s follow-up, Islanders, in the rocks themselves: angular, thick slabs of the stuff often done up in zany bismuth colours. Superflight’s a beautiful way to spend a morning and it’s great to know that it was the start of such brilliant things.
Clash Mini, iOS
It’s still early days with Clash Mini, but I’ve already started to notice something odd, which probably says more about me than about the design.
Clash Mini’s an auto battler in which you compete to win three rounds against an opponent. What it is really is a game about reacting to what happened last time, finessing a strategy and sometimes just outright changing it.
What I’ve noticed is that it’s much easier to respond to a round you lose than a round you win. WIth a loss there’s always a clear area to focus on. With a win, though, I find it very hard some times to see where I accidentally went right. Because of this, I start to get quite anxious after wins, because I know the next round I will have responded in the wrong way. Paradoxically, a defeat leaves me thinking: oh, at least I know what to do now.
What’s great about Clash Mini so far, of course, is the wealth of options you have when it comes to switching things up. No, that’s not quite right. Rather than a wealth of options, what you often have is a couple of bright, clearly defined choices to ponder and weigh. Anyway, I’m loving this so far. Onwards!
Baldur’s Gate 3, PC
My Dark Urge playthrough has begun. If you don’t know what that is, The Dark Urge is a special background you can choose to have in Baldur’s Gate 3, whereby you effectively become an amnesiac who also has an insatiable hunger for blood and murder. So much so, in fact, the game will wrest control from you at certain points and make you do horrendous things – providing you take the dialogue-given bait. And I do mean horrendous. I have the severed hand of a murdered party member in my bag already.
There’s so much I love about this. I believe a large part of playing RPGs is about having control, or establishing control over a world or the characters in it, which sounds a bit sinister, actually, now I write it. They’re about clearing to-do lists and solving problems in areas, and organising inventories, until everything is just so – ordered and tidy.
But what Larian is doing with The Dark Urge is taking some of that control away from you in order to instil chaos. Think of it a bit like having Venom from Spider-Man living inside of you – a monster that sometimes roars out and takes control. That’s a really brave and fun thing for a game like this to do.
It’s needed, to, because there’s a line most of us – even me, and I’m pretty evil – won’t cross unless we’re shoved over it. And not only does The Dark Urge provide that shove, it – and Larian – revels in it.
You might be staring at a corpse on the ground when Dark Urge thoughts flood your mind and you fantasise about the smell and taste of murder. You might have the suddenly overwhelming desire to splatter the ground with someone’s innards while talking to them. The other night, I dreamt about cooking a lady in her own stew. It’s hilariously disturbing.
And I’m amazed by how much of the game triggers Dark Urge gameplay in this way – it seems to be present everywhere. It’s really impressive.
So, I’m all-in on evil already in Baldur’s Gate 3. That didn’t take long. And I’ll be writing much more about it the further I go.