Tuesday 27 September 2016

Games: Find the space to tell a story

Adr1ft, (PS4/PC), 4 Stars, Age: 12+

Published 07/08/2016 | 02:30

Adr1ft for PS4 and P4
Adr1ft for PS4 and P4
Banner Saga 2

You've heard of a walking simulator, an interactive story that demands little more than shuffling around while you immerse yourself in the unfolding narrative. Adr1ft may be termed a floating simulator, applying the same mechanic to a familiar yarn about the lone surviving astronaut aboard a crippled space station.

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With no gravity and the earth-orbiting station shattered into dozens of pieces, your task involves drifting slowly through the wreckage, working out how to power an escape pod to take you home. Your spacesuit uses your oxygen supply to propel you gently though debris-strewn rooms and short expanses of open space - meaning you're constantly hunting for O2 top-ups to keep your ragged breath at bay.

Adr1ft possesses a Kubrick-esque sense of inscrutability, the frustrating lack of a map increasing the disorientation in an eerie world where up could just as easily be down. It mixes scenes of great beauty - glimpses of cities on earth far below, a giant tree growing in an atrium - with a chilling sense of hopelessness.

Its visual power made more impact in its virtual reality form on PC and gameplay-wise it's fairly trite. But Adr1ft still exerts a gravitational pull on the imagination.

Banner Saga 2

(PS4/XO/PC), 4 Stars, Age: 15+

Your raggle-taggle band of refugees are still fleeing the murderous Dredge warriors in this second raid on Norse mythology. Banner Saga 2 (pictured) repeats the formula of the first, an intricate RPG with gorgeous art and a nuanced cast of characters.

As before, there's insufficient guidance as to its combat systems and the camera angle can occasionally obscure the turn-based battlegrounds in annoying ways.

But the deeply nihilistic storyline and an expanded range of strategic options make BS2 a worthwhile sequel.

Assault Suit Leynos

(PS4), 2 Stars, Age: 7+

About as old-school as it gets, ASL remakes an obscure Sega Mega Drive side-scrolling mech shooter from 1990 - with dubious results. Poorly explained and visually a throwback, ASL makes little concession to the tastes of 2016 gamers.

It may tickle the nostalgia glands of some old-timers but there are far better ways to spend €20.

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